A good haul of points before the holidays! Tech 1 Racing had a great weekend on the Algarve circuit in Portugal scoring 23 points thanks to Charles Pic. A godsend before the summer break! There are only 4 races left giving Tech 1 Racing 4 ...
A good haul of points before the holidays!
Tech 1 Racing had a great weekend on the Algarve circuit in Portugal scoring 23 points thanks to Charles Pic. A godsend before the summer break! There are only 4 races left giving Tech 1 Racing 4 opportunities to shine again, and continue its comeback in both the drivers' and teams' championships.
The Algarve region in the south of Portugal is a very popular tourist destination. But in the last few months, it has also become famous for its circuit: an undulating layout with a varied selection of corners providing numerous overtaking opportunities. Daniel Ricciardo, the current leader of the British F3 Championship, made his Formula Renault 3.5 Series debut in this round in one of the Tech 1 Racing cars bearing the number 1.
The drivers' aim during the 2 free practice sessions was to learn the specific aspects of the circuit. The gaps were tiny with 15 cars covered by a second, and both Tech 1 drivers were well placed with Pic eighth and Ricciardo tenth. "Our cars were quick straight out of the box," analyzed Simon Abadie, the Tech 1 Racing Team Manager. "As always we were working with the race in mind. The circuit's rather special, but finally the drivers learned it very quickly."
The seventh round of the season was not part of a World Series by Renault meeting, but part of the third round of the 2009 Le Mans Series. So there was no Superpole, just a single qualifying session with the 24 cars divided into 2 groups. When qualifying began the air temperature was over 30o.C and on the track it was more than 45o.C making it very tough on both men and machines. Unfortunately, Ricciardo's engine went on his first lap. It was bad luck for the Australian who was obliged to start from the back of the grid.
On the other hand, everything went off well for Pic. The Frenchman set the quickest time in his group bagging the 4 points that went with it. This put him on the front row for race 2, as the principle of the reversed grid was used for the first event.
Both races were held on Saturday. Pic was on the fourth row for race 1 and Ricciardo at the back of the grid. Charles made a great start and was among the leaders while his Australian team-mate, who made a good getaway, was knocked out in the first corner due to a collision. Charles drove a steady race and held on to fifth spot. Despite a sore throat and a high fever, he found the resources necessary to snatch fourth at the end of the race. "Charles did the job. When you're in the race with the reversed grid you have to avoid traps to score points," explained Simon. "Although he was sick, he held on despite the heat. For Daniel, that's racing. When you start from the back of the grid and the first corner is very tight, things like that happen!"
With barely 3 hours to recover from the first event, the drivers were back on the grid in the afternoon for the second race. Pic, on the front row, got the drop on Jaime Alguersuari, recently promoted to Formula 1, and took the lead. The Renault Driver Development protege then went a little wide in one of the corners and the Spaniard seized the opportunity to snatch first place. The battle between the two lasted until the end of the race. The safety car was deployed in the closing minutes. Pic took advantage of this to go into the lead again on the restart, but Alguersuari got a better line for the first corner and retook first place. There were no further changes in the positions up front, and the Frenchman saw the chequered flag in second position giving him his second podium finish of the season.
Ricciardo started from last place and put on a great display of aggressive driving. The Australian from Perth fought his way up to fifteenth setting very competitive times in the process.
"It's been a good weekend for us in terms of points. Charles scored twenty-three points and it's the first weekend this season that he's bagged so many. He's put himself back in the title chase. Winning looks a little difficult, but he can certainly make it into second. We'll do our best to help him achieve this. Daniel also gave us a lot of satisfaction. For his first weekend in the championship he was perfect. He'll be with us again for the final in Motorland Aragon. This'll be another new circuit for everybody, and he'll be able to race without pressure and score a good result.
"After a few days' holidays we're off to the Nurburgring. The aim is to do as well as in the Algarve. The drivers' championship is very open with five drivers covered by ten points. We've got up to fourth place in the teams' ratings and we're going to do everything in our power to make it into the first three."
The scene is set for a thrilling climax to the2009 WSR Championship. The next round will be at the Nurburgring in Germany on 19th September.