RAGUES DENIED A SPECTACULAR FINISH AT MONZA
Euronova driver Pierre Ragues was on course for a spectacular fifth-placed finish at Monza, the final round of this year's inaugural Formula Master Championship, before a gearbox problem stopped him in his tracks just two laps from the chequered flag. Nonetheless, the Frenchman was delighted to end his season on a high at one of the most legendary tracks in world motor sport.
Monza, just outside Milan, is well known as the high-speed home of the Italian Grand Prix. Commitment is the key to success on a track characterised by long straights and fast corners, where teams tend to run a low-downforce set-up. Despite struggling with oversteer during free practice, Pierre was running a sixth-fastest time on used tyres. Unfortunately, he couldn't eliminate the oversteer problem in time for qualifying -- so he ended up a disappointing 17th on the grid.
He made a good start to race one and was soon up to 13th place. But as he tried to go round the outside of Annahala, he had no choice but to cut the first chicane. This led to a drive-through penalty and he ended the race in 22nd. Nonetheless, the 22 year-old's weekend was about to get a lot better. He got off to an absolutely brilliant start in race two, and came out of the first corner in 15th place. One by one he picked off the drivers in front of him, working his way right from the back up to an astonishing fifth place. Then, just as he was lining up an assault on the podium, his gearbox failed with two laps to go.
Pierre commented: "It was obviously frustrating to have the gearbox problem, as I believe we could have challenged for a fantastic end of the season -- which is amazing if you consider that we started right at the back. But this should not detract from a weekend where we were really able to show our potential, which was the most important thing. I had a fantastic feeling with the car during the second race, which gave me a lot of confidence, and this drive will stand out as one of the highlights of my year. I've really enjoyed the Formula Master series: now I will be considering my options for next year in order to find the best way to build on the notable progress we have made so far. I would like to thank the Euronova team for their professionalism and hard work throughout this year, which has helped me greatly."
The 22 year-old will now be concentrating on his physical fitness and preparations for the 2008 season as he assesses his options for the future.