Estasy 4th in European Championship!
Adrian Estasy has secured fourth position in the 2004 CIK-FIA European Rotax MAX Championship. Despite sustaining an injury in practice, the Australian finished seventh in the final round at Braga, Portugal, on the weekend.
Pre-race testing for the event started well, Estasy one of the fastest in both wet and dry conditions during Wednesday and Thursday's practice sessions. However, an injury to his back was to have serious consequences. "The rubber line was quite bumpy and I just caught a kerb awkwardly" he explained. The sudden jolt injured vertebrae and tore muscle in his back, subjecting him to excruciating pain for the rest of the race meeting. "We tried special padding in the seat and more bracing on my rib protector, but it didn't help very much."
Estasy qualified tenth and bravely forced himself to seventh in the opening heat, "but it was unbearable to drive" he said. "It brought tears to my eyes."
After just two laps, Estasy elected to retire from both the second and third heat races. "I needed to think of the finals the following day, so it was better for me to rest the injury." A saving grace at the Portuguese round was the fact that he didn't need to earn points in the heats to qualify to make the finals. "The number of karts was less than the track limit, so it just meant I'd be off the back of the grid."
Starting at the rear of the field for the pre-final the following day, the Arrow/X'Zuit driver charged to an incredible fifth place, but dropped back to ninth at the flag. "I had nothing left. There's only so much your adrenalin can do!" he half joked afterwards.
On a wet track for the final he again moved up to fifth, but dropped to seventh by the end, narrowly losing sixth to fellow Aussie and Arrow driver, Scott Auld. Such was his predicament, Estasy had to be lifted from his kart after the race.
"It was unfortunate" Adrian reflected the day after. "We had the pace to challenge for top three, but I think I lost about half a second per lap because of the injury."
The round was won by Swiss driver Ken Allemann ahead of Japan's Takao Matsuya and the UK's Tristram Oman. Matsuya won the championship over Allemann, Oman and Estasy.
Estasy's fourth place in the European Championship, coupled with third in the World Final in Egypt earlier this year (where he qualified fastest and set the lap record), cements his reputation as one of the world's leading Rotax MAX drivers.
Adrian would like to thank his sponsors for supporting his 2004 European racing campaign: