Dakar Rally News: Alex Palou Tops Qualifying at Mid-Ohio, Showcasing Adaptability in IndyCar’s Hybrid Era

    In a display of his prowess in the new hybrid-powered era of IndyCar racing, Alex Palou secured pole position at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver edged out Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward by a mere 0.0024 seconds, highlighting the intense competition and the challenges posed by the series’ transition to hybrid technology.

    The 13-turn, 2.258-mile natural terrain road course at Mid-Ohio has been Palou’s playground this weekend, as the reigning and two-time IndyCar champion earned his second consecutive pole and third in the last six races of the season. Palou’s ability to adapt to the hybrid powertrain was on full display, with the Spaniard overcoming a minor issue in the second practice session to secure the top spot on the grid.

    “It was tight all qualifying,” Palou said. “Fortunately, we had a really fast car since practice one. Q1 was good, Q2, as well. We made it through, which is the target. Then we saw that Pato did only one push lap on the alternate tires in the Fast 12, and we knew it was going to be too close in the Fast Six. We had to try and gamble a little bit and made a few changes for Fast Six to try and get a little bit, and it worked.”

    The introduction of the hybrid era in IndyCar has brought about significant changes, with the series collaborating with Chevrolet and Honda to integrate a supercapacitor hybrid system into the existing 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V6 internal combustion engine. This new technology has presented learning opportunities for all drivers, including Palou, who faced a minor balance issue in the second practice session.

    “Yeah, I would say on braking it (the balance of the car) changes a little bit, and also we have a little bit more weight than we used to,” Palou explained, noting the additional 30kg added by the hybrid unit. “But I just went off because I thought that there was more grip on the alternates and I was just pushing hard. I went deep a little bit only with two wheels and then I decided to go even deeper with (Turn) 4.”

    Despite the challenges, Palou’s adaptability shone through, and he, along with O’Ward, continue to maximize their learning of the hybrid system, with the details coming down to the thousandths of a second.

    “Yeah, I’m pretty sure if we were able to compare our data, like 100 percent of it, we would see differences in ways to get half a tenth here, half a tenth there,” Palou said. “Not from driving, just from the pure regen and deployment. I’m sure we are… I don’t know if 70% or 90% there, but I’m not sure we’re getting 100% of it.”

    With the hybrid era now in full swing, Palou’s performance at Mid-Ohio stands as a testament to his ability to adapt and thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of IndyCar racing. As the series continues to push the boundaries of technology, fans can expect more exciting battles and close-fought qualifying sessions like the one witnessed on Saturday.

    ๐Ÿ”— Source