RED HOOK, NY – Alex Lynn made an immediate impact on the Formula E paddock by scoring pole position for his debut race in New York City on Saturay afternoon.
2014 GP3 Series champion and ex-Williams Formula 1 junior Lynn has worked with DS Virgin Racing in a reserve role since January, and was given the nod for this weekend’s inaugural New York event in place of Jose Maria Lopez, who is tied up at the Nürburgring in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Lynn was fourth-fastest in the initial qualifying heats before going fastest of all in the Super Pole shoot-out, beating Daniel Abt to P1.
The result makes Lynn the second driver to score pole position for their debut Formula E race, following in the footsteps of Jean-Eric Vergne at Punta del Este in 2014.
Formula E is just the latest part of a mixed racing program for Lynn in 2017 that has also seen him win the 12 Hours of Sebring with Wayne Taylor Racing and race for G-Drive in the WEC’s LMP2 class, taking pole position at Le Mans.
Abt will start alongside Lynn on the front row, with Vergne and Sam Bird, Lynn’s DS Virgin Racing teammate, P3 and P4 respectively.
Jerome d’Ambrosio was fifth-fastest for Faraday Future Dragon Racing ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Nelson Piquet Jr., while Oliver Turvey was eighth. Nicolas Prost and Lucas di Grassi completed the top 10, the latter missing out on a chance to capitalize on title rival Sebastien Buemi’s absence.
Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.
Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.
On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.
One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.
After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.
The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.
Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.
“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”
Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.
“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”
But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.
“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.
“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”
Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.
“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.
“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”
The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.