Chris van der Drift tests with success in World Series 3.5 at Paul Ricard
Paul Ricard, France, 9 November 2006 -- Kiwi race car driver Chris van der Drift has just completed a successful two day test on the high tech test track of Raul Ricard in the south of France. With continuing improvements, Van der Drift ended the testing sessions with a personal best time of 1:16.808. The 20 year old New Zealander was driving with top running Italian World Series team RC Motorsport, a team that made a serious bid for the 2006 Renault World Series title with Spanish driver Borja Garcia ultimately finishing in third position overall.
In recent months the Kiwi has driven several different high powered cars. In both the new Formula Renault Northern European Championship and the prestigious Eurocup, Van der Drift finished as best Rookie driver and runner-up overall. In addition he tested the A1GP car of Team New Zealand and got behind the wheel of the Trident Racing GP2 car on Paul Ricard. This week Van der Drift was able to experience the power and handling of a Renault World Series 3.5 race-car over two days.
The first laps on Wednesday went well and with old tyres Van der Drift could circulate in times comparable with other drivers. The morning session also developed a good working relationship between both the team and Van der Drift, and the afternoon testing began with another set of old tyres. New tyres are at their best for between 6 and 10 laps, but after receiving his first new set Van der Drift could not improve his lap times. Towards the end of the session the decision was made to fit another new set of tyres, the Kiwi then able to improve his times lap after lap, but time was against him and the end of his first test day precluded him from bettering his times any further. The Kiwi's best time of the afternoon session was less than 9/10th slower than that set by 2006 World Series competitors, 8th best from 28 drivers, and that on his first day in a new race-car.
The second day in the 425 hp World Series car began with a test plan to run through various set-up changes in order to see the effects on the handling of the car. But the Kiwi experienced problems that remained until the end of the day. The car became difficult to control in the corners and very unpredictable. A third new set of tyres was fitted to the car, but this didn't achieve the desired handling improvement. In spite of a great deal of discussion with his engineer, the problems with steering remained. The team will be looking into the problems that have arisen with a resolve to have this remedied in time for the next test session on 22 & 23 November at Vallelunga, Italy.
Chris van der Drift: "It was great to again test in a fast car. These cars are big, quick and very challenging! Recently I have had the opportunity to test some different race-cars, and now it was the Renault World Series car. During the first day I was able to go quicker and quicker with my second set of new tyres. It's a pity I ran out of time or I am sure that my final time would have been quicker. On the second day we had problems with the car. With the changed car set-up I was going quicker with old tyres in the morning than the afternoon. We will look into why this has happened, so that we can find an answer before the next test. I am really looking forward to it! I want to thank especially the team from RC Motorsport and my manager Gianni Bianchi for this chance. It was a good test!"