Victory eludes Wickens again as he finishes second at Mid-Ohio

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Robert Wickens was again in contention to take his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series win during Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver ran in the top five in the opening stint and assumed the lead on Lap 30 after Alexander Rossi made his first pit stop – Wickens pitted much earlier, on Lap 16, and used clean air to run fast laps and reduce the gap between them, which allowed him to move to the lead when Rossi pitted.

And even though Rossi was on a two-stop strategy compared to Wickens’ three stops, Wickens appeared to be better positioned in the first half of the race, as he was building the gap between them to nearly 20 seconds in his second stint.

However, Wickens was unable to make the gap big enough to stay ahead of Rossi after his second stop, and during his third stint, Wickens was balked behind the lapped cars of Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato.

Unable to pass them – they were on the alternate red tires, while Wickens was on the primary blacks – Wickens could not increase the gap between he and Rossi, and ultimately lost time to him on track.

And by the time everyone had made their final stops, Wickens sat in second, nearly 20 seconds behind Rossi.

Further, his No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda team asked him to conserve fuel in the final stint, preventing him from putting in fast laps to bring the gap back down.

In the end, Wickens had to settle for second, a chance at a maiden IndyCar victory again slipping away.

Still, despite missing out on victory, Wickens believes the three-stop strategy was the right call.

“We stuck to our guns. The strategy worked out, the problem was on my third stint there I just got stuck in a whole gaggle of cars,” he explained to NBCSN’s Jon Beekhuis post-race.

Wickens continued, “They were on reds, I was on blacks and I couldn’t make it through and lost loads of time. I was probably losing a second a lap for a good 10, 15 laps. It’s unfortunate, I think our three-stop (strategy) could’ve worked. It would’ve been racy. Probably in the last couple laps, I would’ve caught (Rossi), but nevertheless, P5 to P2, hard to complain.”

Wickens entered Mid-Ohio sixth in the championship, and remains in sixth exiting the weekend, 19 points behind fifth place Ryan Hunter-Reay.

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Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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