FOCUS DRIVERS FALL VICTIM TO CRASHES AFTER ENCOURAGING CHASE THROUGH THE FIELD Spa-Francorchamps, July 30th, 2005. Team Ford Hotfiel Sport leaves Belgium without points in spite of a promising performance in the races. After the last private...
FOCUS DRIVERS FALL VICTIM TO CRASHES AFTER ENCOURAGING CHASE THROUGH THE FIELD
Spa-Francorchamps, July 30th, 2005. Team Ford Hotfiel Sport leaves Belgium without points in spite of a promising performance in the races.
After the last private pre-event test, Thomas Klenke and Michael Funke had travelled to Spa with high hopes. But neither of them could reproduce the Zandvoort performance in qualifying, leaving them at the back of the grid. After a few modifications for race-day, the cars were as fast as expected from the test. "We still have to find out exactly why we suffered in qualifying," said team principal Hans Hotfiel. "Both in the warm-up and in the races, we were as competitive as the testing suggested. But the sudden weakness in qualifying needs to be addressed carefully."
Both drivers then made up a couple of positions at the start of the first race. But Funke rolled his car on the opening lap. "I was forced wide to avoid the BMW of Adam Lacko, who had swerved onto the grass and gotten back on the track right in front of me," the new Focus driver explained. "I lost momentum by taking avoiding action. That would have been half as bad -- but one of the privately entered Italian BMW ran right into the back of me and sent me into the gravel. I hit the tyre wall, and the tyres just launched my car up into the air." The Focus ended on it's roof but Funke escaped unhurt.
Klenke drove a solid race and finished 22nd. "Once you're that far back on the grid, it's hard to gain positions. I just concentrated on getting the car to the finish."
Minutes before the start of the second heat, it started to rain. But since the shower eased off pretty quickly, Klenke opted for slick tyres, while a few others around him chose wets. Klenke's decision proved to be the right one. In a mixture of the others sliding around on their rain tyres and some brave driving, he made up a lot of positions. "The car felt absolutely perfect. I'm sure it would have been good enough for a position within the top 10. I had just passed Nicola Larini, who was on rain tyres and was sliding around helplessly," Klenke recalled after having taken 12th spot from the Chevrolet driver. "Just when I though I had safely gained a position, I saw Larini flying towards me on the grass. He hit me from behind and sent me flying straight across the Bus Stop chicane. I couldn't avoid ramming the Seat of Jordi Gene; in fact, we were all lucky that I didn't hit him in the driver's door."
Klenke had to retire his car from 12th place. "We would have been in a very good position to get the rewards in the second race," said team principal Hans Hotfiel. "The crash was completely Nicola Larini's fault, and it was very unnecessary. It's a shame that our race had to end this way."