Monaco Increase Management driver Alex Palou took pole position for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 21st, at the end of an incredibly close battle over the four timed laps. Palou’s #10 CGR Honda-powered Dallara car was clocked at an average speed of 234.217 mph (that’s 376.855 Kph), thus beating Scott Dixon’s record speed of 224.046 in 2022. Particularly impressive was Palou’s first lap in which he really gave it all, crossing the finish line at a stunning 235.131 mph (378.325 Kph) average speed. That speed was unequalled by the other drivers who took part in the Fastest Six final session on Qualifying and allowed Palou to retain a margin of just 0sec004 over second-placed Rinus Veekay -that’s one millisecond per lap on the average!
After his record-breaking attempt, Palou watched closely as Veekay and and Felix Rosenqvist did their running after him (the remaining top 6 drivers being Dixon and Pato O’Ward). He genuinely thought it would be hard for him to stay at the top of the time-sheets and was overwhelmed with joy when he found himself to be the 2023 Indy 500 polesitter. “It means a lot to me know”, he said right after. “To me, and to the boys in the team. We knew it was going to be tight, it always is, but the car crew did an amazing job. The team gave me the fastest car today so I’m super happy”. And on watching the other guys lapping in what was probably one of the closest qualifying ever: “It was not ideal! Actually, it was tougher than doing the four laps… I’m super-proud of the work we’ve done through the years”. He went on the explain the risky strategy that led to the result: “That last lap was too much! We knew that we had to trim the car in order to be aggressive on the first lap, but also be consistent, and in the fourth lap it was very tough (to keep the pace)”. After being beaten by such a close margin, Veekay sportingly came over to Alex to congratulate him. The 26-years old Spaniard smiled at him and said “I’m sorry, Rinus…”.
Palou had come to the 500 as the series new leader and off the back of last week’s victory on the infield, so this month of May looks very promising for him and the team: “We’re trying to make it a sweet end of the month. It’s a long way to the race and it’s the top race, so now we celebrate and then will get ready for next week!”.
The six-hour time difference meant nothing to the MIM staff which had followed real-time Alex’s long path since the first practice early last week and then all the way to the Fast Friday. As the weekend started, there was still a lot of work to do to balance the car and an engine issue required a new powerplant to be installed. After that, and thanks to impressive work from the CGR team, Palou felt his confidence grow. In the messages he texted to MIM’s boss Salvatore Gandolfo he wrote “Trust me, we have a fast car”. And it proved it by taking the top spot on the grid of the most iconic race in the world. “Alex and I have come a long way together” Gandolfo said “and today I am really, really proud of him”.