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Álex Palou returned to shine and secured pole position at the Portland GP. This Saturday (11), the Catalan gave the best possible response after losing the lead of the season and, with 58s770, beat Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon by less than 0s1.
Felix Rosenqvist had one of the best days in the McLaren colors, ranking fourth, with Graham Rahal and Colton Herta appearing next.
Championship leader, Pato O’Ward did not make the Fast Six, but at least he leaves seventh, still close to the competitors. The top-10 on the grid still features Ed Jones, Oliver Askew and Marcus Ericsson.
It was a terrible day for Penske, who couldn’t get a car even in the second round of qualifying. Thus, Josef Newgarden starts only from 18th, one position behind Helio Castroneves, who is making his fourth race with Meyer Shank. Callum Ilott, on his debut, leaves 19th for Juncos.
The Portland GP takes place this Sunday, with the start scheduled for 4:30 pm (in Brasília). Afterwards, there will only be two other races for the end of the championship.
Check out how the grid was defined in Portland
The classification of the Portland GP of Indy began, punctually, at 4:15 pm (in Brasília). The system was that classic: two groups, second phase with 12 drivers and, finally, the Fast Six to decide who would take pole.
Group 1 took to the track with: Scott McLaughlin, Pato O’Ward, Marcus Ericsson, Helio Castroneves, Graham Rahal, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Oliver Askew, Jimmie Johnson, Max Chilton, Romain Grosjean and Callum Lott.
Unsurprisingly, times improved from the middle to the end of the session and, of course, with the soft tyres. But it was Hinch and Chilton who pulled the line there, with 59s low. Incredibly, Chilton still secured himself in the second phase, showing that he had wood to burn with Carlin, in fourth. Ericsson set the fastest time, turning 58s809. Then came Rahal, Rossi, Chilton, Askew and O’Ward.
Grosjean was left out, as well as Castroneves. Hinch, McLaughlin, Ilott, Johnson and Hunter-Reay also fell, who didn’t even manage to enter the track, facing mechanical problems. There were also two interference investigations: Askew in McLaughlin and Grosjean in McLaughlin. The Frenchman was punished and finished 11th in the group.
Penske disappoints and falls with everyone, complicating Newgarden
The second group had 14 riders: Dalton Kellett, Josef Newgarden, Felix Rosenqvist, Scott Dixon, Alex Palou, Will Power, Sébastien Bourdais, Ed Jones, Conor Daly, Rinus VeeKay, Colton Herta, Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud and Jack Harvey.
With Palou jumping in front and Dixon and Newgarden more discreet with the hard tires, it called attention that two were already punished: VeeKay and Sato, by changing the engine, would take 6 positions on the starting grid.
When it came to trying on soft tires, Penske experienced complete drama. No one was guaranteed in the top-6, with Newgarden only ninth, 18th on the grid. Power and Pagenaud fell as well. Besides them, Daly, Harvey, VeeKay, Sato and Kellett were eliminated.
Rosenqvist turned 58s691, surprising and getting ahead. Palou, Herta and Dixon also confirmed their favoritism. Jones and Bourdais also advanced.
Ganassi stomps and puts Dixon and Palou in the Fast Six. O’Ward is by the way
The second group came, formed by three cars from Ganassi, two from Andretti, two from McLaren, two from RLL, Carlin de Chilton, Dale Coyne de Jones and Foyt de Bourdais. Again, as it was in the first phase, only Palou really impressed with the hard tyres, under 59s.
When the softs were triggered, Herta tried to jump ahead, but Ganassi was extremely solid and responded quickly with Dixon and Palou, who closed a 1-2 of the second phase. Rahal passed as well, with the Andretti close behind and Rosenqvist closing the Fast Six group.
O’Ward was another favorite to go down early, but at least he started in seventh. Jones, Askew, Ericsson, Chilton and Bourdais are the others who will appear in the middle of the grid.
Palou sets fundamental pole in the title fight
The fight for the pole has been drawn between three drivers since the start of the Fast Six. Dixon, Palou and Rossi controlled the stock, with Herta, Rosenqvist and Rahal more in a fight for the last seat in the second row.
Rossi took the lead, but Palou left the coup de grace to the end. With 58s770, the Catalan put Ganassi ahead, just 0s09 ahead of Rossi and less than 0s1 faster than teammate Dixon. Rosenqvist, Rahal and Herta closed the top-6.
Indy 2021, Portland GP, Start Grid:
|1||A PALOU||Ganassi Honda||58,770|
|3||S DIXON||Ganassi Honda||58,867||+0.097|
|4||F ROSENQVIST||McLaren Chevrolet||58,951||+0.181|
|5||G RAHAL||RLL Honda||59,007||+0.237|
|7||P O’WARD||McLaren Chevrolet||58,973||+0.203|
|8||AND JONES||Dale Coyne Honda||59,025||+0.255|
|9||THE ASKEW||RLL Honda||59,084||+0.314|
|11||M CHILTON||Carlin Chevrolet||59,235||+0.465|
|12||S BOURDAIS||Foyt Chevrolet||59,242||+0.472|
|13||J HINCHCLIFFE||Andretti Honda||59,254||+0.484|
|14||W POWER||Penske Chevrolet||59,003||+0.233|
|15||S McLAUGHLIN||Penske Chevrolet||59,356||+0.586|
|16||C DALY||Carpenter Chevrolet||59,098||+0.328|
|17||H CASTRONES||Meyer Shank Honda||59,419||+0.649|
|18||J NEWGARDEN||Penske Chevrolet||59,137||+0.367|
|19||C ILOTT||Chevrolet rushes||59,501||+0.731|
|20||J HARVEY||Meyer Shank Honda||59,146||+0.376|
|21||R GROSJEAN||Dale Coyne Honda||59,634||+0.864|
|22||J JOHNSON||Ganassi Honda||59,712||+0.942|
|23||S PAGENAUD||Penske Chevrolet||59,659||+0.889|
|24||D KELLETT||Foyt Chevrolet||59,744||+0.974|
|25||R VEEKAY||Carpenter Chevrolet||59,189||+0.419|
|26||T SATO||RLL Honda||59,195||+0.425|
|27||R HUNTER-REAY||Andretti Honda|
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