Problems for Chris van der Drift at Spa-Francorchamps SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, 3 May 2009 -- The World Series by Renault race weekend for Chris van der Drift did not go according to plan. The 23 year old New Zealander who scored a podium at Barcelona...
Problems for Chris van der Drift at Spa-Francorchamps
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, 3 May 2009 -- The World Series by Renault race weekend for Chris van der Drift did not go according to plan. The 23 year old New Zealander who scored a podium at Barcelona in his race debut in the class was plagued with many problems in the test sessions and in Saturday qualifying. In race one held on Saturday afternoon, the current International Formula Master champion had much better pace and starting from grid 15 the Kiwi moved though the field and finished the 45 minute race in 9th position. However in Sunday's race two, the New Zealander was compelled to park his Epsilon Euskadi race car after contact in lap two.
The Friday collective test sessions were over shadowed with a mysterious problem in the front of the racecar resulting in the front tyres wearing at an alarming rate, the issue taking some time to track down. Before the qualifying session began the car was newly rebuilt and once the session commenced the Kiwi immediately showed better pace. "In qualifying it was quite a bit better. But because we didn't get some good testing in, we were already behind in our setup work", said Van der Drift who eventually qualified fifteenth.
The first of the weekend's races followed early that afternoon. After a brilliant start and following that with a great drive on Eau Rouge, Van der Drift had stormed up into the top ten. Despite some minor reshuffles during the race, the Kiwi finally finished in ninth position, and second rookie home. "Just as at Barcelona the race speed was quick fortunately. Our pace was fairly constant, just four tenths away from the best lap time", said Van der Drift. "The race wasn't without it's problems though as in the first half of the race the power to pass switch wouldn't work. That's a way to generate a temporary power boost."
The Kiwi began the Sunday second race with confidence. Again after a great start and passing manoeuvres, Van der Drift finished the first lap in ninth position after starting on grid 11. His Epsilon Euskadi team-mate was in eighth position just before the New Zealander after having made a poor start. However the anticipation was short lived when both Epsilon Euskadi drivers made contact in turn five. "First of all I want to offer my apology to the team, as this shouldn't have happened", related the New Zealander after the race. "My team-mate Adrian Valles was obviously a lot slower and when I saw the chance to pass on the inside I took it. The only thing was that he closed the door on me and we were both immediately out. That was such a shame and I hope I can make it good in Monaco."
Van der Drift's next races in the World Series by Renault will be over the weekend of 24-25 May on the streets of Monaco, in the support programme to Formula 1.