Panciatici scores points in Brno
Nelson Panciatici scored solid points for Junior Lotus Racing as the Formula Renault 3.5 Series made its first ever visit to Brno in the Czech Republic last weekend. The 21-year-old Frenchman made up several places in the first race to claim 13th, and strongly secured eighth in race 2 after a gutsy drive, which saw him defend superbly in the closing stages.
Qualifying on Saturday morning for race 1 was disrupted by a red flag, meaning drivers lost their last two minutes of running and ended the Junior Lotus Racing team's attempt to put in quick laps at the end. It meant that Russian Daniil Move and Panciatici would share the eighth row of the grid, in 15th and 16th places respectively.
Panciatici completed the first lap in a strong 12th place, but was edged down a position on the fifth lap. However, from then on he had a solid run to the finish, fighting off several attacks from chasing competitors.
Nelson Panciatici: "After a difficult qualifying it is never easy to make big moves up the order. I consistently attacked throughout the race but without much reward. It wasn't an easy race but it allowed me to prepare for Sunday, but before that, qualifying will be important."
Team Manager Peter Crolla: "We were disappointed with qualifying. Our plan was interrupted by the red flag just when we were looking to make a significant improvement with both drivers. Unfortunately, a lot happens in the last two minutes of qualifying and that was what denied us. Nelson made up two or three places at the start and had a very solid race, resisting pressure. He was consistent throughout and felt the car was increasingly positive as the fuel load decreased."
On Sunday, Panciatici made a strong step forward to qualify an excellent fifth. He then made up ground on the opening lap to move up to fourth, a position he held until his mandatory pit-stop, despite coming under immense pressure from behind.
Despite a quick pit-stop from the Junior Lotus Racing crew, several other drivers were able to leapfrog Panciatici after lapping more quickly prior to their own stops. That meant that he found himself in eighth position, but again he stood firm in the face of enormous pressure to retain the place.
Nelson Panciatici: "We managed a good qualifying and that allowed me to run near the front prior to the pit-stops. Unfortunately our pace was slightly slower than the guys behind which meant I lost some places. From there I defended hard in what was an intense race!"
Peter Crolla: "Nelson made a great step forward from yesterday and it was very pleasing. He found himself more at ease with the higher-downforce settings permitted on Sunday. In qualifying, Nelson made good use of his tyres and found himself a good gap in traffic and set his fastest lap. In the race he made a good start, but looked under pressure. We brought him in for his stop, and afterwards he raced well in the pack. He held off some very worthy competitors and finished eighth."
After the difficult challenge of a first visit to Brno, the next round of the season takes place on 18-20 June at Magny-Cours, the former home of the French Grand Prix and a circuit that both team and drivers know much better.
Meanwhile, Nelson has re-launched his website, www.nelsonpancia.com. The new-look site has been designed and created by the Frenchman's partner, Johnson & Smith.