Robert Wickens closes week with another victory and the birth of a son

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury during a 2018 IndyCar race that stalled his career.

Article content

BOWMANVILLE – What a week for Robert Wickens, who took his second win in seven days on Saturday as he celebrated the birth of his first child.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Wickens returned to his native Canada and won the Touring Car class of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with fellow countryman Mark Wilkins.

The win followed their win last week at Watkins Glen in New York, which was Wickens’ first win since he suffered a spinal cord injury in a 2018 IndyCar race. He returned to competition this year with Bryan Herta Autosport in a special equipped Hyundai that allows Wickens to accelerate and brake with manual controls.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

“It really has been a fairy tale,” Wickens said. “The Watkins Glen win felt very well deserved. We’ve worked hard. We’ve been there every race this year. We finally clicked when we got that win. We thought let’s take this momentum to our home race.”

But his return to Canada was cut short when Wickens’ wife, Karli, gave birth two weeks early. Wickens and Wilkins were in the middle of the walk on Thursday when Karli called her husband and told her to hurry back to Indianapolis.

“She said, ‘I need you in the morning,'” Wickens said. “I can’t thank everyone at Bryan Herta Autosport enough — not only because they were understanding, but also because they didn’t make me feel like there was any pressure. They made it very clear that family always comes first.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

The couple welcomed their son, Wesley Joseph, on Friday and Wickens returned to the track on Saturday to complete his first laps of the track. He started last in class, worked his way up to third and handed over the 33rd Hyundai Elantra N TCR to Wilkins halfway through the race.

Advertisement 5

Article content

“I’ve never been so prepared for a race,” said Wickens. “But I’ve also never jumped into a race without a single practice lap. Honestly, it’s just great. I definitely didn’t expect to win.”

Wilkins took the lead after a restart with 20 minutes to go and led a podium race for three of Herta’s cars.

“The story is really Robert,” Wilkins said. “Entering without laps and passing three cars on his first lap? He hadn’t made a round at all in I don’t know how many years. Mega drive.”

Wickens, who has an advisory role with Arrow McLaren SP in IndyCar, was cheered by the IndyCar paddock at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

“It’s not just impressive to see him have the courage to get back into the race car and adapt to the hand controls and be in control of everything, and really relearn how to race a race car again,” said Colton Herta, son. from Wickens’ team owner, Bryan Herta.

Advertisement 6

Article content

Our apologies, but this video cannot be loaded.

“It’s impressive when you can just do that, but then also be really fast and win a race. It shows the dedication and passion he has for racing. I think everyone at IndyCar is really happy to see that.”

Michael Lewis finished second in the #1 BHA Hyundai which he co-piloted with Taylor Hagler. Harry Gottsacker finished third in the No. 98 BHA Hyundai he shared with Parker Chase.

“It’s been a blur,” Wickens said. “Until Thursday afternoon, everything was pretty quiet. It’s been a world of emotions. I think I got all my tears out on Friday when our son Wesley was born and he was healthy. I just can’t wait to go home and see the baby again.”

Advertisement 1

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civilized discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their thoughts on our articles. It can take up to an hour for comments to appear on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We’ve enabled email notifications – you’ll now receive an email when you get a reply to your comment, there’s an update in a comment thread you’re following, or a user follows comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Leave a Comment