Highs and Lows in Hungary for Kimball Charlie Kimball experienced both highs and lows during the fourth race weekend of the World Series by Renault held at the Hungaroring, just outside Budapest, Hungary, this past weekend July 13-15.
Highs and Lows in Hungary for Kimball
Charlie Kimball experienced both highs and lows during the fourth race weekend of the World Series by Renault held at the Hungaroring, just outside Budapest, Hungary, this past weekend July 13-15. After qualifying a disappointing 21st, Kimball, in Race 1, moved through the pack, setting consistently quick race laps and executing a perfectly-timed flawless pit stop to move up to tenth position by the end of the race. This not only gave Kimball one championship point, but by virtue of the World Series' reverse grid rule, also gave him pole position for Sunday's Race 2. A solid result and significant points haul was destroyed at the first corner by Alejandro Nunez, who starting third, drove into the side of Kimball's car, pushing him into second place starter, Mikhail Aleshin, taking both Kimball and Aleshin out of contention on the spot. Even though Nunez remained under investigation during the race, no penalties were served and Nunez went on to win the race. Kimball's achievement in Saturday's Race and his increased comfort and speed in the car bode well for the coming races, all at circuits Kimball knows and enjoys.
Free practice was the first sign of a difficult weekend as both Victory drivers, Kimball and teammate Giedo van der Garde, struggled to come to terms with the outright pace. Even when they used their new sets of tires, both drivers were still at least 0.4 seconds away from the quickest lap time. Even though they were developing the set-up of the car and making progress, there wasn't enough time to make serious steps. Qualifying was even tighter than usual in Kimball's group with 4th to 11th place being covered by less than half a second. Unfortunately, after having struggled with traffic, Kimball found himself at the back end of that half a second and would start form the 11th row of the grid in 21st.
"It is so difficult here because you can't overtake to get a clean space on the circuit, and the best of the new tires are gone after 2 fast laps," Kimball said afterwards. "I am closer to the front group than I have been all year, but it is still my worst qualifying position of the season!"
Race 1 started well for the 22-year-old as he made up an astonishing 6 places on the opening lap, his progress only halted when the safety car was deployed to clear up 3 wrecked cars around the circuit. When the race resumed Kimball continued to run fast laps before coming in for his mandatory pit stop on lap 12. After making up two positions during his stop because of quick in and out laps as well as quick pit work by the Victory team, Kimball rejoined in 13th position. After Salvador Duran spun off the track at turn 2, Kimball was promoted to 12th before another safety car period. When the race went back to green flag action, there were only two laps until the end. Kimball made the most of the restart and overtook Clivio Piccione cleanly into the first corner, one of only a handful of on-track overtaking maneuvers. Kimball crossed the line in 11th, but was promoted to 10th when former teammate Guillame Moreau was penalized for breaching the mandatory pit stop rules. The result gave Kimball his first point from Saturday and pole position for Sunday's Race 2.
Kimball spoke enthusiastically after the race, "I am very proud of that race! To come from 21st to 10th, especially here is extremely satisfying. Now I am in a good position for tomorrow's race."
Race 2 did not go quite to plan as Kimball's race was ruined at the first corner. After having made a decent start, Kimball found himself just behind second place starter Mikhail Aleshin on the way into the first corner. Then as Aleshin braked too late and went wide, Kimball set up to take the lead on the exit of the corner. As they exited Turn 1, Alejandro Nunez drove into the side of Kimball, making contact with Kimball's sidepod. The force of the impact shoved Kimball violently into Aleshin, spinning the Russian driver, with Kimball forced to take to the run-off area to recover. With two bent steering arms, Kimball was forced to retire at the end of the first lap. Nunez continued on to win the race even though he remained under investigation throughout. However, after reviewing the limited footage the stewards ruled that no penalties were to be imposed.
"It hurts so much to have the chance for a great result taken away from me by another drivers over-zealous driving. It was completely out of my control and I still haven't come to terms with the steward's decision not to penalize Nunez for ruining both Aleshin's and my race," Kimball said later. "On a positive note, my lap times this weekend have been much more competitive compared to my teammates, and I am really looking forward to Spa for my first podium. Racing from the front feels good and I can't wait to do it again soon."
Kimball will continue his mental and physical training for the next month in preparation for rounds 8 and 9 at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, August 17-19.