JAMES WALKER'S MONZA RACE REPORT Monza, Italy -- 15 April 2007: Jersey's James Walker made his World Series by Renault debut at Monza in Italy this weekend. James has gone well during winter testing so he was...
JAMES WALKER'S MONZA RACE REPORT
Monza, Italy -- 15 April 2007: Jersey's James Walker made his World Series by Renault debut at Monza in Italy this weekend. James has gone well during winter testing so he was looking forward to a good performance at Monza but during the all-important qualifying session on Saturday his car lost power on only his third lap. The car was quickly returned to the team who set about making sure it was repaired in time for the first race that afternoon.
As he didn't have a qualifying time James had to start the race from close to the back of the grid. A few other drivers had received penalties and were further behind James. When the lights went out all 30 cars roared down to the tight first chicane at Monza and amazingly all got through unscathed. Unfortunately James' problem returned on lap two; his car was audibly down on power so he pitted for checks. Whilst he was in the pits the safety car had taken control of the race so had a clear track ahead of him while he raced to rejoin the pack.
Although everyone got away cleanly for the first race start, the same can't be said for the restart. An alarming accident for Piccione sent his car somersaulting across the gravel at turn one. He escaped unscathed and the safety car held the pack back while the marshals cleared the track. Once the remainder of the race was finally underway James car was working as it should and he was able to set very competitive lap times. Frustrating for James who could have been running a lot higher up without the earlier problems.
Of course with the grid being decided for race two by the result of race one any glitches in qualifying have lasting effects. James started race two from 20th position on the grid. The race was as incident-packed as the first one and unluckily it was James' team-mate Richard Phillipe who was hit first and brought out the safety car. With racing underway again James got stuck in and made steady progress through the field. After some good close battles James finished the race in 14th position, which from starting the weekend at the back of the grid through no fault of his own is a good achievement.
"Overall I'm pretty disappointed," said James. "We've shown that if there's a problem in qualifying it puts you on the back foot for the entire weekend. We did pretty well to finish up where we did but we don't want to be starting at the back again. The car was running ok in race two -- a little bit of oversteer but nothing major -- and I was able to have some good battles, but we need to start strongly next time out."
The new experience of pit-stops will have to wait until the Nurburgring as it was deemed too dangerous to do them in Monza. The World Series by Renault ran alongside the Le Mans Series this weekend which created a very full and busy pit-lane. The German races take place in three weeks' time on 5/6 May.