Robert Wickens to sample Formula E GEN3 car

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Robert Wickens to sample Formula E GEN3 car

Canadian racer Robert Wickens will jump behind the wheel of Formula E's adapted GEN3 race car this weekend in Portland, as Formula E sets about a double-header race weekend in the USA.

Robert Wickens

Wickens became paraplegic following a 2018 crash competing in IndyCar at Pocono. Since then, the Canadian's been working hard to get back to the top tier of motorsport, and drove to a title in TCR in recent seasons as he set about climbing back through the motorsport ladder after suffering those life-changing injuries six years ago.

This weekend in Portland, as Formula E gets set for a double-header race weekend on 29 & 30 June in Oregon, he's set to sample Formula E's GEN3 race car, modfied with hand controls and accomodations to enable the 32-year-old to properly test the forbear of the world's fastest FIA single seater - something he's been wanting to do since Formula E became a thing, a decade ago.

"I’m ecstatic to get the chance to drive Formula E’s GEN3," says Wickens. "It’s the car I’ve wanted to try since the birth of the series and I’ve never really had an opportunity yet with the career paths I’ve taken, and when I was racing in DTM.

"Formula E has always been in that elite category because of the competition there, and there’s less emphasis on the car [performance]. If there are competitive drivers there, everyone wants to be involved. It’s always been like that for me and just getting the opportunity to try the car is the main goal initially. If that leads to further opportunities then I’ll be very happy.

"What’s amazing about Formula E is that for years it’s been making things work that people said “can’t be done”. It’s always doing things that people didn’t think possible and that’s another reason it’s been high on my list of series to try. I knew I’d be welcomed here with open arms because people aren’t afraid to go against the grain here.

"On top of that, it’s an FIA World Championship – and competition at that level is something I’ve always wanted to achieve. Every kid wants to be a world champion, whether that’s in karting or at the elite level of motorsport. To race at historic circuits like Monaco, and the other groundbreaking city circuits and locations Formula E heads to just brings the excitement.

"I love street racing and it’s always been my forte and something I’ve enjoyed and excelled at."

The stars didn't quite align in the past, and Wickens was even offered a contract by a team in the paddock back in 2018 but Wickens is hoping they do so in the future, and he feels his experience lends itself nicely to performing in the leading electric race series - something former teammates and past rivals in the Formula E paddock agree with.

"Ironically, I almost had an opportunity, but it was just a little too late, back in 2018 and I’d already signed a contract with an IndyCar team," he says. "I was offered the chance to join a team in Formula E but I couldn’t take it and my life went in a separate direction.

"So, to come full circle and get the chance to drive the car is incredible. Seeing how the series has grown and developed over the years is amazing, and I’ve been an avid fan – and most of the drivers here are either former colleagues from various paddocks or teammates of mine from the past. It’s been a bit of a reunion!

"One of the blessings of having an underfunded junior formula career is that you don’t have the textbook career path, so I had the fortune to jump into nearly every European junior series along the way for tests, part seasons or full seasons.

"That built me as a driver and I feel like it added more tools to my belt for when I became a full-time professional driver. Then, once I had the opportunity to come back Stateside and race in IndyCar, I didn’t feel like I was a rookie there and I just hit the ground running.

"A lot of teammates and former colleagues have told me I’d probably excel in Formula E knowing how methodical I am to my race approach in terms of handling the strategy and energy management. In the sportscar world those same skill translate and I like to think I’m one of the better ones at it so, I’m just really happy to give it a shot here.

Wickens has made a success of his return to the cockpit, with titles and silverware on the long road back to the race track following his accident. Working his way back into a racing career was always the goal, and continued competition at the top is very much in his future ambitions and he says he'd revel a shot at Formula E.

"The important thing for me is my goal to return back to the elite level of motorsport after being paralaysed in IndyCar. I didn’t really know how I would end up there or get back to that level – and I didn’t know if I would jump straight back into a top level seat or have to work my way back up.

"It seems to me it’s more likely the latter. I’ve been racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series with Hyundai for now my third season and we won the championship last year in the TCR category, so we’re finally back to winning ways.

"On paper, Formula E feels such a good fit for me. The stars just never aligned but hopefully they can in the future."