TURVEY'S TOP FIVE RETURN; FLYING VILJOEN STARS Team SWR's drivers played a big part in round five of the Formula BMW UK Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway, as returnee Oliver Turvey fought for a podium finish on his comeback, and the ...
TURVEY'S TOP FIVE RETURN; FLYING VILJOEN STARS
Team SWR's drivers played a big part in round five of the Formula BMW UK Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway, as returnee Oliver Turvey fought for a podium finish on his comeback, and the inexperienced Lars Viljoen showed tremendous speed while recovering from some early misfortune.
The big news at SWR was the return of Turvey, who had taken the team's first ever race win -- at Rockingham, appropriately enough -- in late 2004. He hadn't raced at all since winning his class on his Asian Formula Three debut last December, so 12th on the grid was a fair effort on his return to single-seater competition. Oliver's team-mates Matt Harris, Paul Rees and Viljoen were only 17th, 21st and 22nd, as inclement weather at the Northamptonshire track hampered the team's efforts.
"I'm afraid we made the wrong call," admitted SWR Team Principal Trevor Powell. "The rain had stopped just before the session and we guessed that it would stay dry, and set the cars up accordingly. Unfortunately it began to rain hard again at the last minute, and the teams who had set their cars up for the wet were given an advantage over us."
All four drivers were immediately on the move in the dry race, although Viljoen's efforts were compromised when he spun amid the first corner confusion. That error was the catalyst for an astonishing performance, as Lars channelled his frustration and began lapping at the same pace as the race leaders, despite running half a minute behind them. An early safety car seemed to be the answer to his prayers, but luck was not on Viljoen's side today, and a puncture dropped him right out of contention before he could hack through the field.
"Lars was phenomenal, he drove exceptionally well," said Powell. "Unfortunately he clouted the chicane kerbs a bit too hard and got a puncture, which put him a lap down, but he was absolutely flying all through the race and very nearly unlapped himself."
Another SWR driver out of luck was Rees, who was taken out by Felix da Costa in a heavy accident as the field slowed for the safety car. Paul was utterly blameless, but that made little difference to him or the team as they contemplated his badly damaged car. Turvey was comfortably ahead of all of this, having stormed up to eighth with a characteristically excellent start, and then scythed through to fifth by half distance. He then chased title contenders Stian Sorlie and Nathan Antunes all the way to the flag, proving that -- had he managed a full season -- Oliver would have been an overwhelming championship favourite. Harris also drove extremely well to come through to 12th place, with Viljoen classified 19th after setting top five lap times throughout his recovery charge.
"It's like Oliver has never been away," said Powell. "He got back into it straight away and drove an excellent race. Matt also did very well to come through the field so strongly."