Ryo dances the samba!
No, the final round of the World Series by Renault did not take place in Brazil but instead at Donington Park in Great Britain. Nonetheless, Ryo Fukuda confirmed Tech 1 Racing's consistent improvement by taking fourth place in Sunday's race. More than ever, the Toulouse-based team is well and truly on the up!
In just four months, the progress made by the Tech 1 Racing team has been astounding. With every race, the Toulouse-based outfit has become faster, stronger and more consistent. Having scored its first point in Turkey, the only French team engaged in the World Series goes from strength to strength at every meeting.
Patrick Pilet made his debut at Donington alongside Ryo Fukuda. With just two hour-long free practice sessions as preparation -- which were blighted by several red flags -- the Frenchman struggled to find time to set up his car properly.
On Saturday morning, the first qualifying session was not kind to the Tech 1 Racing drivers. Having qualified on the sixth and 10th rows respectively, Ryo and Patrick had no choice but to attack from the outset.
Luckily, the British circuit favours overtaking. Because of this, Ryo was quickly able to climb to ninth place. Chasing Pastor Maldonado, the Japanese driver seemed set to score two extra points before making a mistake just a couple of laps from the flag--Patrick finished the race in a brave 13th place, despite a car set-up that was not entirely to his liking.
For second qualifying on Sunday morning, fog replaced the burning sunshine of the previous day. Ryo managed to achieve by far his best qualifying performance to date -- ending up in a solid fifth place -- which was a good omen of things to come. Starting from 25th place, Patrick faced more of an uphill struggle.
Having made a good start, Ryo Fukuda held onto his fifth place until the obligatory tyre change, planned for lap seven. When the pit stops were over, the Japanese found himself in fourth place and under attack from Andy Soucek and Pastor Maldonado: two of the championship frontrunners. Ryo did not buckle under the pressure though, and was even able to close up on Borja Garcia in the final laps. He held onto fourth place until the end: his best-ever finish in this category.
Patrick eventually finished 14th but was still happy with his work. "We finally found some good settings for the car," he said. "My times throughout the race were good, and this is very positive for the rest of the season."
Thanks to this result, Tech 1 Racing makes up a place in the constructors' championship: an extra source of satisfaction for team boss Simon Abadie. "Our objective of finishing on the podium before the end of the season is entirely realistic," he said. "I'm very proud of our team's work this weekend and Ryo enjoyed a perfect race. He fought hard without making mistakes and was rewarded with a top result. He was also fighting with the people who are challenging for the championship, and certainly keeping them honest! I'm very happy with the start of our collaboration with Patrick Pilet as well. He didn't give up and we've made enough progress now to have some good base settings for our next race at Le Mans. We all can't wait to get there!"
-credit: tech 1 racing