ENGINE CHANGE SCUPPERS ZOLDER RACE FOR BIRD Despite qualifying a lowly 17th for the Zolder Masters race this weekend, BP Ultimate driver Sam Bird (20, Claygate) was in buoyant mood heading into race day. "All the British contingent have been...
ENGINE CHANGE SCUPPERS ZOLDER RACE FOR BIRD
Despite qualifying a lowly 17th for the Zolder Masters race this weekend, BP Ultimate driver Sam Bird (20, Claygate) was in buoyant mood heading into race day. "All the British contingent have been struggling with the Kumho tyres, which the Euroseries drivers are used to" said Sam on Sunday morning. "However, I'm in the top 20, and with a good start and some overtaking opportunitites, I'm confident I can improve from that position, and I will certainly enjoy the experience on this great track".
Fortune was not smiling on MSA Race Elite driver Bird -- with less than 35 minutes to go before the race, during routine pre-race checks, the engine blew! The Carlin team set about changing it and succeeded in a record time of just 32 minutes, in time to get Sam to the start grid with one minute to spare! (their previous record for changing an engine was 46 minutes)
Due to the engine change, Sam had to start from last on the 36-strong grid. He battled his way up to 22nd, with some fast laps and good overtaking manoeuvres. However, during a battle for position with Grosjean( Euroseries championship leader) Sam encountered the sand on the track at Sterrenwacht, flatspotting a tyre and picking up a puncture. A pitstop for new rubber effectively ended his race, and although he rejoined at the back of the pack, he finished 27th.
"Of course I'm disappointed, especially after winning last weekend at Spa, I had high hopes coming here, but sometimes all the luck goes against you. It started and finished with tyres!!! However, It was a great experience driving in the Masters" he commented pragmatically "and I'll hopefully be back next year in a better position. The team did a fantastic job to change the engine, and although this weekend was unsuccessful, at least it isn't part of my Championship. I'm just glad it didn't happen at Silverstone next weekend when I'll be all out to improve my points position in the British Championship"