Max Chilton and Ed Jones were able to show the fast progress both they and their Carlin team are making in the Indy Lights Series presented by Cooper Tires today, qualifying first and second respectively at the Iowa Speedway. The Carlin pair surprised many in the paddock by taking a front row lock out on an oval circuit which has proved to be one of the biggest challenges for the European team in its debut season in America.
With each driver taking turns to set their best qualifying effort, Chilton and Jones were amongst the last drivers to take to the Iowa Speedway this afternoon. With championship leader Jack Harvey holding provisional pole, Jones was the first Carlin man on track, and despite having limited expience on ovals circuit took the P1 spot with just three drivers remaining.
Running slightly less downforce and feeling confident after two promising practice sessions around Iowa this weekend, Chilton was on form as he went out for his qualifying run. The British racer claimed the top spot and set a new track record in the process. As the chequered flag fell, Chilton remained P1 with his team mate just behind in P2.
Clearly emotional after the tragic passing of his former Marussia team mate Jules Bianchi overnight, Chilton told Indy Light’s pit lane commentator Rob Howden, “It hasn’t been a nice nine months and a very difficult day today. This one is dedicated to him.”
Speaking about the performance of his Carlin Dallara IL-15, Chilton added, “The team have done a great job to put together this car and having my team mate start alongside me is fantastic. Driving on ovals is so different to anything in Europe and with such limited experience I did feel a bit uncomfortable before. But I came here having missed the test and to be honest felt much more comfortable straight away. I think we have a good chance here.”
Speaking just before his team mate went out for his qualifying run, Jones said, “The car felt great, we made a lot of improvements and I made improvements on my side as well. The changes we made worked although maybe we could have got away with a little less wing, which I think Max will probably be running and will probably go quicker. But to come here and do this is a big team effort and we now have some more confidence on ovals.”
A delighted Trevor Carlin also praised the team, saying, “It’s been pretty tough on the engineers and drivers, they have been working really hard and to be honest we haven’t really understood ovals so what the boys have done here is really amazing, regardless of what happens later today.”
The racing action will get underway at 5.20 local time today.