IFM: Chris van der Drift Monza and championship summary

2008 IFM champion Chris van der Drift finishes season off in style. Monza, -- After clinching the 2008 International Formula Masters title in the weekends first race held on Saturday, Kiwi Chris van der Drift gave a dominant performance in ...

2008 IFM champion Chris van der Drift finishes season off in style.

Monza, -- After clinching the 2008 International Formula Masters title in the weekends first race held on Saturday, Kiwi Chris van der Drift gave a dominant performance in Sunday's race going from grid seven at the start to the lead by lap 10 of the 18 lap race, remaining unchallenged to the end. In the process he took the fastest race lap.

Van der Drift had a brilliant start in the last race of the season held on the Italian circuit of Monza, coming out of turn one in fourth place, and in the following lap had moved into third, but then having to give the position back in the following lap. Not deterred he regained third position on lap four, then taking second position in the following lap. Then he faced the challenge of hunting down the leader who by this time had built up a lead of over 2 seconds. This was no problem however as he was the fastest on the track at the time hauling in the leading car by over a half second a lap. On lap eight the safety car was dispatched to allow the removal of a car that came to rest on the racing line after Cram team-mates Provenzano and Llobell touched. On the restart on lap 10, the New Zealander used the slip stream to good effect and was in the lead entering turn one and then didn't look back.

With this victory, the 22 year old Hamilton born race driver appeared on the podium 10 times, six of which were outright wins. In addition he took seven pole positions out of the eight possible during the season, and grabbed the fastest race lap on eight occasions. With the title of 2008 International Formula Master Champion goes a test day with the Honda Racing F1 team.

Qualifying was a preview for an outstanding weekend. With his seventh pole position, Van der Drift established a new record that won't easily be beaten. The first race went very well, the Kiwi finishing in second position and taking the championship title. After every safety car period, the lead in the race changed due to slip streaming on the ultra fast Monza circuit. "It is virtually impossible at such a restart to keep the lead. It doesn't matter how much of a gap you have, as the driver behind you is able to use the slip stream and the long front straight to catch and pass the car in front", explained Van der Drift. Unfortunately (!) the New Zealander was leading when the third safety car phase began, and was powerless to prevent then second placed Fabio Leimer from passing him at the restart. Van der Drift then had two laps to retake the lead but despite some sensational attempts he finally finished in a hard fought second place.

"The start of the second race went really well : after the first corner I was in fourth", said Van der Drift. After a number of position changes and setting the quickest lap on lap seven, the New Zealander moved into second position just before a short safety car phase. Just as in the race held the previous day, the driver in second position had a better opportunity than the leader at a restart. Van der Drift used the slip stream to good effect and led into the first chicane and remained unchallenged for the rest of the race, the sixth win of the season. "It was really great to do this race without any pressure, just purely for the fun and being able to push hard", said an overjoyed Van der Drift. "It wasn't that difficult to catch and pass my rivals as the car speed was fantastic! After the safety car period I could pass Josef Kral and score my sixth win. It was a nice way to end the season and my last race with JD Motorsport in Formula Master. For that I want to thank my team and the rest of my supporters very much."

The New Zealander is going to be busy over the next few weeks. "I just heard an hour ago that it is now confirmed I will be traveling to China this week to test for the GP2 Asia Series with Trident Racing. Four weeks later I will be back in China where I will make my A1GP race debut for A1Team.NZL at the Chengdu circuit. I am looking forward to it!"

When the Formula 1 test with the Honda Racing F1 team will take place is not yet known.

-credit: chrisvddrift.com

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