Guelph's Robert Wickens makes impressive debut in IndyCar Series racing

A 28-year-old driver from Guelph made quite an impact in his IndyCar Series debut this past weekend.

Not only did Robert Wickens capture the pole position at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in Florida, but he almost won Sunday’s race after leading for 69 laps.

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Wickens had the lead with only two laps to go until he made contact with another driver on a restart that took him out of contention.

“It was a heartbreaking way to end,” Wickens said in an interview.

“I was so close to kind of doing the impossible in my first race in IndyCar — picking up the pole position and the win and leading the most laps.”

Despite the heartbreaking loss, Wickens said there’s still a lot of positives to take away from the race and he is already looking towards his next race.

BELOW: Guelph driver Robert Wickens speaks with CJOY News reporter Matt Carty

So, how does a kid from Guelph get started in racing?

“Actually, I started go-karting at Bingeman’s in Waterloo,” Wickens explained. “Really, that’s all where it started. I loved racing for as long as I can remember.”

Wickens said like any child growing up in Canada, he loved playing hockey, but something attracted him to racing.

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There came a point when he and his parents had to make the decision.

“I was just about to start Timbits hockey with all my friends and we started coming across karting and started looking into it a bit more, and my parents came up with the decision that I could either play hockey with my friends or try karting,” Wickens said.

“I opted to go karting instead of playing hockey.”

Wickens has been racing in Europe for about a decade, but came back to North America to race beside his good friend and fellow Canadian, James Hinchcliffe.

Wickens said he has Toronto’s Honda Indy on July 15 circled in his calendar.

“That’s going to be a big one,” he said. “It’s going to be great to be back on the streets of Toronto in front of my hometown. It’s going to be a crazy weekend, there’s going to be so much support.”

Wickens’ next race is April 7 at the Phoenix Grand Prix.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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