STEVENS AND MP MOTORSPORT WIN AT SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS British driver Will Stevens made a successful debut in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium over the weekend, 2nd/3rd October, by taking victory during...
STEVENS AND MP MOTORSPORT WIN AT SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS
British driver Will Stevens made a successful debut in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium over the weekend, 2nd/3rd October, by taking victory during the second of three races with front-running Dutch team MP Motorsport.
The 19-year-old, who usually competes with Manor Competition in the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship, joined MP Motorsport regular Kalle Kulmanen, for the 'Racing Festival' event which marked a welcome return to the top step of the podium for the Oudenbosch-based team; Estonian Karl-Oscar Liiv having won two Northern European Cup races in August at Assen in The Netherlands.
During a wet qualifying session at Spa on Saturday morning, Stevens secured an excellent fourth on the grid for race one with Kulmanen 13th quickest. Unfortunately, a problematic opening to the first encounter -- which also took place on a wet track -- resulted in a slip back for Stevens but he still managed to finish in the top 10, crossing the line in ninth position.
Stevens' issues stemmed from a broken front wing, seriously impacting on the car's downforce and performance, which was incurred when trying to avoid the spinning car of Alex Riberas at La Source Hairpin -- the MP Motorsport driver simply had no chance to avoid the Spaniard.
The encounter didn't get underway as planned for Kulmanen either when smoke began to appear from his car just as the grid lined-up; the Finnish youngster being one of several drivers to suffer with soaring engine temperature due to an extremely slow formation lap from the pole-sitter. After a delayed start, Kulmanen battled through from the pits well to take a strong 16th place finish. He was then promoted into the top 15 post-race following a penalty for Dutch driver Frank Suntjens
Starting race two on Sunday morning from third on the grid, Stevens got away well and moved into second place prior to an early Safety Car period. When racing resumed, the MSA Team UK-supported driver pressed on and produced a superb overtaking manoeuvre to grab the lead around the outside into Les Combes.
From there, Stevens went on to carve out a lead of almost two seconds and in the process he posted the fastest race lap of 2m22.676 seconds (176.7km/h). Unfortunately for Kulmanen, his race ended on the final tour due to a defective throttle body so he ended the encounter unclassified.
Race three began with Stevens in ninth place on the grid and Kulmanen 15th -- as per their finishing positions from the first outing. Stevens finished in sixth to cap off a strong weekend while Kulmanen made his way into a deserved top 10 finish, some five seconds clear of the chasing pack.
Stevens had a great start, rocketing into the top four on the opening lap, but contact to his left rear tyre from the spinning car of Jeroen Mul resulted in damage so his eventual top six finish was indeed a strong effort.
Speaking on the weekend's action, MP Motorsport team manager Sander Dorsman said: "It's great to be back on the top step of the podium, we had a fantastic time working with Will and Kalle at Spa and the win was well deserved. Tony and Sarah (Shaw) from Manor Competition joined us over the weekend along with Will and their help was great -- we worked really well together, it was super.
"Will was fantastic in race two and without some bad luck in the other couple of races we have no doubt he would have taken three podiums this weekend. Kalle did a great job too, to end the last race in the top 10 was a great finish for him. Again, he had some bad luck but he raced well and showed good pace. We're very pleased with how he's improving."
MP Motorsport will be back in action this coming weekend, 9th/10th October, with its regular driver line-up -- Kulmanen, Liiv and Dani0x00ebl De Jong -- for the final two rounds of the 2010 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Championship at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.
Liiv and De Jong were unable to compete in Belgium this past weekend as they have both already contested their permitted allocation of Northern European Cup encounters -- as stated by the rules governing Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 this year.