NEU 2.0: Chris van der Drift Nurburgring summary

Chris van der Drift with a near perfect weekend at Nurburgring Nurburgring 29 May 2006 - On Sunday afternoon Chris van der Drift completed an excellent race weekend at the Nurburgring. The circuit in the German Eiffel was the venue of the fifth...

Chris van der Drift with a near perfect weekend at Nurburgring

Nurburgring 29 May 2006 - On Sunday afternoon Chris van der Drift completed an excellent race weekend at the Nurburgring. The circuit in the German Eiffel was the venue of the fifth and sixth rounds of the Northern European Championship Formula Renault 2.0. The 20 year old driver, previously from Hamilton, NZ, again displayed his talent and traveled home with two pole-positions and a race win to his credit.

Just as at previous events, the speed was there as soon as Van der Drift commenced his practice run. In the 1½ hour session on an extremely wet Friday afternoon, Van der Drift ended with a time that was second only to Sebastien Buemi by 1/10th sec. The weekends two 20 minute qualification sessions were scheduled late on Saturday morning in dry, overcast and cold conditions. Van der Drift's first qualifying time was 0.261 seconds quicker than Portuguese rival Filipe Albuquerque followed by a second time that was 0.165 seconds quicker than Albuquerque, therefore giving him pole position for both the weekends races.

Unfortunately the race on Saturday afternoon didn't turn out as planned. Under changeable weather conditions the race started. It was one of those "Do I, or Don't I" situations that race engineers all over the world hate -- is it going to be a dry track or is it going to rain? It was decided that Van der Drift and fellow team-member Xavier Maassen would start the race on slicks. A wrong decision as it turned out later, when the rain gradually became heavier. Another problem reared it's head on the start line when Van der Drift's clutch failed. By starting the engine on the starter motor after the lights had gone out for the start of the race he joined the race well down the order. Eventually Van der Drift crossed the finish line in a distant 16th place, after a very delicate duel against the wet track conditions.

After the eventful Saturday afternoon the previously troublesome Sunday race was now looming up. Finally however the second race of the weekend went as it should. After a reasonable start Van der Drift had to give Swiss rival Buemi the lead going out of turn one. A yellow flag at turn one for the next three laps meant that Van der Drift maintained position behind Buemi but both drivers slowly opened a gap on third positioned Albuquerque. On the following lap Van der Drift pulled out and passed Buemi on the front straight and then proceeded to demolish the field behind him. After 18 laps he finished with a lead that was almost 5 seconds at the finish flag.

In the championship points' standing Van der Drift now lies second with 107 points, six less than leader Felipe Albuquerque. Fellow team member Xavier Maasen lies in third with 101 points, six points less.

Chris van der Drift after the races: "I was full of confidence for the first race because I knew that my car was fast, but unfortunately we made the wrong choice of tyres for the changeable weather. That's really difficult, and then my clutch failed. It's just a matter of finishing then. After everything was sorted race two went much better. Although at the start I defended well, I had to let Buemi go on the outside and he lead out of turn one with Albuquerque behind me. I was able to follow Buemi closely for 3 laps. Then on the front straight I had a good run on him which meant I could pass him before turn one and then it was a matter of keeping a cool head. At the end of the race I had a lead of around five seconds even though I was not 'pushing'. At last no problems on Sunday! I want to thank the team and my mechanic Alberto for the hard work, as again we were really quick."

The following event on the calendar for the North European Formula Renault Championship is the 'Pinkster Races' from 2nd to 5th June on Circuit Park Zandvoort (Holland).

-www.chrisvanderdrift.nl

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Xavier Maassen , Sébastien Buemi , Chris van der Drift , Filipe Albuquerque