Webb battles back to fourth place finish in Edmonton

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Webb battles back to fourth place finish in Edmonton


Series:                   Firestone Indy Lights Championship

Track:                    Edmonton City Centre Airport

Track length:      2.224 mi (3.579 km)

Date:                     21 July 2012


Qualifying:          Pos. 5;  Time: 1m26.2155s  + 0.7040s

Race:                     Pos. 4;  + 35.9905s;  40 laps


British rookie Oliver Webb returned to the Edmonton 100, the scene of his debut in the Firestone Indy Lights series, looking to repeat last year’s strong showing, and battled hard to score a well-deserved fourth place around the tricky circuit around Edmonton Airport.


A solid performance in the initial practice session for the weekend saw Webb running comfortably in the top 10 and, despite running on used tyres during the second session, a number of set up changes and strong pace saw the 21-year old end the session sixth overall.


The weekend’s qualifying session took place in bright sunshine, but a heavy downpour overnight meant a wet track and a dry line quickly formed. As conditions improved during the session, and the track dried out, lap times started to tumble. Webb, racing on a familiar track for the first time this season, wasted no time showing he meant business and used this experience to top the timesheets with less than 15 minutes of the session remaining. The young Brit pushed hard as the track conditions continued to improve and, despite repeatedly improving his time, Webb ended the session in fifth.


Webb was keen to replicate the weekend he had enjoyed in Edmonton last year, when he claimed a podium finish after starting tenth, and felt confident going into the race. Another heavy shower during the morning of race day saw proceedings get underway in similar conditions to qualifying, with the possibility of further rain. These conditions made for a difficult start, with large amounts of spray as the cars started the 40 lap race, but Webb maintained position. However, the slippery conditions saw him pushed wide as he entered the hairpin at turn 5, and he was forced on to grass as he struggled for grip.


Returning to the track unscathed, Webb was quickly up to speed and set about chasing down the positions that he had lost, determined to move forward through the field. A well-timed overtake saw the BRDC Superstar driver move back into fifth place, before a move just before half distance on Moore’s Gustavo Yacaman saw Webb claim fourth place.


With the track drying all the time, a dry line with greater levels of grip appeared, and saw Webb change to slick tyres at half distance. Once back out on track, Webb showed solid pace in the No. 7 Lucas Oils-sponsored car of Sam Schmidt Motorsport and he started to close in on his team mate Esteban Guerrieri for the final podium position.  The closing laps saw Webb pull out a comfortable gap over the chasing pack, but he was unable to catch his team mate, crossing the line fourth.


Webb explained: ‘It is great to return to Edmonton, and really good to be racing on circuit I already have some experience of. It meant I was able to focus solely on setting the car up from the minute we arrived, rather than having to also learn the layout, which always puts you slightly on the back foot. The car felt really good all weekend, especially after we switched to slicks during the race, and it’s a little disappointing that we could repeat the podium result I got here last year, but I lost some time on the opening lap when it was really slippery. It was a great race though, and the car had good pace, so I’m hoping for another good result when we return to Canada for the next race on the Streets of Trois Rivieres in two weeks.’


Round Nine of the Firestone Indy Lights Championship takes place on Sunday 5 August, on the Streets of Trois Rivieres in Quebec.

Log on to  http://www.indycar.com/indylights/ for additional details about the Championship. For information on Oliver Webb, visit http://www.oliwebbracing.com/ or follow him on twitter, www.twitter.com/oliverjameswebb.