Despite problems : Two podium finishes for Chris van der Drift in International Formula Master Brno, Czech Republic, 17 June 2007 -- After his first victory in Pau, France two weeks before, Chris van der Drift achieved two podium finishes in ...
Despite problems : Two podium finishes for Chris van der Drift in International Formula Master
Brno, Czech Republic, 17 June 2007 -- After his first victory in Pau, France two weeks before, Chris van der Drift achieved two podium finishes in International Formula Master over the weekend. And this was despite problems being experienced with the performance of his race-car on the Czech Republic's 5.403m long Brno circuit. The two 3rd placings brings 21 year old Van der Drift within 2 points of the present No2 in the championship.
Once free practice had started on the Friday morning, it was plain that the speed was there. For the first time no problems were evident and it was possible to work with the team in improving the car set-up. And finally the data acquisition system was working as it should providing much needed detailed information. After the second of the two free practices, van der Drift had recorded the second best and third best lap times in the sessions, and with this the prospect of a good qualifying session that would be held later that same afternoon.
With thirty competitive drivers on the track, it was going to be difficult to get a clear lap. However despite that, Van der Drift squeezed out a lap that was second quickest, before qualifying was halted due to the crash of another competitor. At this time the young driver decided to pit for a second set of new tyres, the goal being to grab pole position. Once the session recommenced, Van der Drift started on an impressive flying lap and improved his time by over a second, and the team thought that was enough to secure pole, however with less than three minutes left pole position was snatched off him by 0.035 of a second.
Starting Saturday's race from the first row, Van der Drift had a great start and pulled up beside pole-sitter Maximilian Goetz, but decided to let Goetz lead into turn one. After four laps however, an oil pressure problem surfaced, and Van der Drift quickly lost power and speed. With this problem in his mind Van der Drift knew he couldn't hold onto his 2nd spot but instead focussed on retaining his now 3rd place. Under the FIA system of determining grids for the second race of the weekend, the places of the first eight finishers are reversed, meaning that Van der Drift would start on grid six. Just as in the first rounds at Valencia and Pau, he made a fantastic start slotting into 3rd place after going around the outside of other drivers into turn one. Lap 2 saw the quickest lap of the race go to Van der Drift, and also picking up second position. However Van der Drift put a wheel off the track on the following lap then having to give up his 2nd place. Van der Drift's car slowly began to lose power in a similar way to the day before, and on lap 8 the safety car came out for two laps, giving Van der Drift the opportunity to cool the tyres and engine. At the restart Van der Drift calculated his run to the line and went up the inside of 2nd placed Pablo Sanchez Lopez to lead him through turn one. However the lack of power in his motor meant he had to give away this position on lap 10, this time to Jerome d'Ambrosio, leaving Van der Drift to finally finish the race in third.
Chris van der Drift: "Two podiums, the fastest race lap and some valuable points for the championship are in short what this weekend has meant to me. In qualifying I was convinced I had pole. I thought I had driven a fantastic lap only to be beaten by 0.035 second. In the first race, I wanted to keep my second position, until I experienced problems with the engine oil pressure. Fortunately I managed to finish third. After a rocket start of sixth to third position in race 2, the same oil pressure problems returned to haunt me. The performance of the motor meant that 3rd place was the best possible in the circumstances. But all said and done this was a great result and I really enjoyed the races. Finally I have been able to complete both races, even despite the problems I had. For that reason I want to thank my team for all the hard work. The next time we're going for maximum points without any problems with the car! Pau was a great circuit and the next race at Porto is also a street circuit, so I can't wait!"
The next race weekend of 6-8 July will be held at Porto, Portugal, for the fourth round of the International Formula Master championship.