Staying in the match at Brands Hatch Our two SG Formula drivers displayed consistency and speed with Top 10 finishes in both Euro series F3 races contested at Brands Hatch. Yann Clairay won his third podium place of the season on the Saturday,...
Staying in the match at Brands Hatch
Our two SG Formula drivers displayed consistency and speed with Top 10 finishes in both Euro series F3 races contested at Brands Hatch. Yann Clairay won his third podium place of the season on the Saturday, and took a hard-earned point from Sunday's race, in which he came 6th. In the keenly-contested rookie category, young Henkie Waldschmidt made a name for himself by being successively the 2nd and then the best-placed beginner, which was not bad considering this was his maiden outing on the circuit, as indeed it was for SG!
SG Formula had already been on the podium twice this season, but this one was particularly satisfying because it came in Race 1, in which the starting order is decided by the true qualifying order. On the Saturday the fastest qualifiers were at the head of the race whereas for Sunday's second race the contestants lined up in reverse order for the first eight places. The second race's grid is not therefore a matter of pure performance and is more prone to be decided by Saturday's race events.
Yann Clairay clocked the 7th fastest qualifying time. A fantastic start on Saturday put him in 4th place going up into Druids. After Jules Bianchi picked up a 'drive through' penalty Yann took over 3rd place and hung on to it until the end of the race. For Sunday's race Yann moved up one spot at the start and drove most of the distance in 5th place. Fifteen laps from the finish he understeered through a corner and current championship leader Nico Hulkenberg seized his chance to slip by. However, the SG Formula driver managed to cling on to 6th place and the accompanying championship point, just a few tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Henkie Waldschmidt, for whom this was his best performance of the season.
The young Dutch Toyota Driver Program protege put in some pretty good segments during qualifying. Unfortunately, they were not all in the same lap, so he had to make do with 15th place on Saturday's grid. However, a faultless drive saw him climb to 10th in the race and 2nd in the Rookie class just six tenths of a second behind Lancaster, who was the best placed beginner. Henkie continued his progression the next day. He was one or the few drivers who managed to overtake on this short and narrow course. He duly got by Tsukakoshi from Japan - no mean scalp given that this was the second placed man in race 1. He also got his revenge for the previous day by taking advantage of an error by Lancaster to slip past him into 7th place and thus pick up his maiden Rookie Cup victory.
Speaking from Nurburgring, where he was supervising his Formula Renault 2.0 crews, SG Formula team manager Stephane Guerin had this to say: "these results are very welcome because the team has put in an awful lot of work since the setback we suffered in Zolder. All our cars got damaged in that meeting so the team had to do repairs at the same time as doing development work. We went and got our first race 1 podium, and we are delighted to have attained the goal we set ourselves at the start of the season, which was to be able to compete with the best teams in the second half of the season. The distance between us and the front-runners is not so great now, and our drivers are feeling more relaxed about the car. Yann drove superbly and Henkie's Rookie Cup success is worthy of merit and a great encouragement for him. The level of these rookies is high; the best ones are in strong teams that have more experience than we do. We set the bar high for him because we know he has the talent to win races in 2009. I'll be expecting great things in Barcelona, and even more in Le Mans, a circuit on which Yann has no lessons to take from anyone. Our debut in Hockenheim back in April was far from ridiculous so we are looking forward to going back there in October! There's a buzz around the team at the moment, lots of things are happening both with our drivers and our sponsors. It keeps us buoyed up!"
Rendez-vous in Barcelona for the next round of the Formula 3 Euro Series next September 20-21, and this coming weekend in Le Mans for more exciting Formula Renault 2.0 racing!