First Podium and first win for van der Drift in Formula Master at Pau
From good, to fire, to great and to disappointment, that is what sums up my weekend at Pau.
I couldn't wait until the first free practice when I could drive for the first time on an exciting street circuit, the weather wasn't looking very good for Friday and as I arrived at the track it was raining steadily and it wasn't looking like it was going to clear in a hurry.
The first session was for 45 minutes, the goal being to drive and learn the track, and for the first 25 minutes through the session I was 2 seconds quicker than the next driver. I was really loving the track and enjoying the slippery conditions, and with 15 minutes to go, I pitted to make some changes. After I rejoined the race circuit there was nothing but yellow flag after yellow flag, so I didn't push in those sectors, as I didn't want to create any grief with the FIA officials. End result : I finished 3rd while other drivers went quicker under yellow flags.
Before the second free practice session the weather was looking as if it would clear and we would be able to drive on slicks later on in the session. I began on wet tyres and by the time I had finished 7 laps I was 1.3 seconds quicker than anyone else, really enjoying the conditions again! We changed to slicks and I completed 4 laps, but then the gremlins returned, but this time in the form of a fire which started in the rear of my car due to a broken oil line, that put me out there and then.
It was going to be a little "lets see how it goes" for qualifying as I didn't do too many laps in the dry but it turned out not to be so bad as I managed 4th quickest in my group, but 7th overall, the second group being a lot slower. If I was in that group I would have had a front row grid, and if the organisers had slotted everyone in positions according to time I would have still been 4th overall, but that didn't seem to matter, I passed them anyhow.
I was feeling great for the first race and I knew I just had to make a quick clean start and pass like I had done two weeks previously in Valencia, and as I took off for the first time I did just that and was already in 4th by the first corner and knowing after a few race laps that I was quick. I had worked hard with my engineer 'Jones' and the car was a big step better. I passed Gotz for 3rd and then a lap later I was into 2nd. I tried to pass for 1st two laps later but over shot my self and ran wide and touched the wall but not enough to make any damage luckily, but I fell back to 3rd. I was able to stay in touch with the two leading cars and shortly after on the start finish straight they touched sending Persiani's # 31 car into the right wall at 200kph, then shooting over the track to the left wall which left parts flying everywhere, I still remember it now like "ohh shit" this is not good, but anyhow we both made it past the crashed car (now without wheels) sliding all over the track, then I directly made the move for first on Gotz, I think I just caught him off guard, excellent for me!! From there I just had to keep calm and keep it off the walls, I was quicker and just kept my lead and crossed the finish line in 1st. On the warm down lap it was the best feeling ever, after all the problems we have had with the car and the first weekend at Valencia wrecked because of the electronic gremlins, it was great satisfaction. In the second race held on Sunday afternoon, I was to start on grid 8 by virtue of my win the previous day (reversed grid). I was quick, I knew I could pass and I was feeling good, but then everything came to a halt during the warm up lap when my car wouldn't change out of 4th gear, I tried turning the car on and off, I even removed the steering wheel to see if the problem would go away but that was it, my race was over, I couldn't start let alone drive a lap in 4th gear. Again another electronic problem ruined my chances of scoring points, this just makes me even more determined and fired up for the next race.
-credit: chrisvddrift.com 2007.