Ready for the final assault After picking up his fourth podium place of the season, Charles Pic has moved up to 3rd place on the Eurocup leaders' board. The rookie driver has opened up a gap between himself and his pursuers, and now he aims to...
Ready for the final assault
After picking up his fourth podium place of the season, Charles Pic has moved up to 3rd place on the Eurocup leaders' board. The rookie driver has opened up a gap between himself and his pursuers, and now he aims to steal into second place under SG Formula stable-mate Jon Lancaster's nose.
The duel between Charles and his British team-mate started during open testing on a Portuguese circuit that neither of them had driven on before. Jon clocked the fastest time during the Thursday afternoon session, just ahead of Charles, who had to admit to a mistake in the third sector. But the young Frenchman fought back to clock the fastest time on the following day.
During qualifying both SG Formula drivers continued to lap above of the melee. "The weather was really hot in Estoril" said Charles. "With both our sets of new tyres we decided to go out with pressures set up so that the car would be at its peak for no more than two laps. And of course we were expecting to put in our fastest laps on the second set of tyres at the end of the session".
At this crucial moment in qualifying Charles' first flying lap was impeccable. In the next one he improved his time through the first and second sectors and appeared to be well on course for pole position. But in the third sector new team-mate Anton Nebiltskyi from Russia involuntarily got in his way as they were going through the parabolic turn that leads into the home straight. "I can't blame him for it, he didn't do it on purpose. Since that lap was a goner I let up with the intention of trying to clock a decent time in another one, but the tyre performance was dropping off by then." Charles probably missed out on two pole positions because of that incident, ending up with just one good time when it looked as though he would clock two consecutive excellent times. However, that first flying lap earned him second place on the grid for Race 1, just 5 hundredths of a second behind the demon Jon Lancaster. As the grid positions for Race 2 are decided on the basis of each driver's second best lap time, Charles had to be content with 10th.
On the Saturday, the start of the race saw no change in the order established during qualifying. Jon was ahead of Charles, who was keeping current Eurocup leader Brendon Hartley at bay with no problem. Seventeen laps later the same trio of drivers mounted the podium as would line up the following day in the same order on the championship's table.
Sunday's racing turned out to be more of a challenge for Charles, though. Starting the race in 10th place he quickly overtook Franck Kechele to move into 9th place. Then with the most spectacular of overtaking manoeuvres he nicked 8th spot from Jaime Alguersuari. The Spaniard was hugging the inside line coming off the main straight but it was to no avail! Charles went past him on the outside in a controlled skid with all wheels locked! After that exploit he set about hauling in the four drivers ahead of him, who were locked in a battle of their own. "Getting past Alguersuari cost me some flat spots on my tyres and the car began to vibrate. What's more, we had opted for a set up designed to help me move up through the field in the opening laps, so the car was losing performance as the laps went by. I still tried to attack Coletti but he managed to shut me out going into the bends where I might have tried to get past him."
Charles held on to take 8th place. He goes into the final meeting of the season in Barcelona with great determination. He will be driving in four races and will be looking to seal a podium place in both the French championship and the Eurocup.