QUAIFE-HOBBS HAPPY WITH FRENAULT PROGRESS Adrian Quaife-Hobbs set a blinding pace in testing for the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Championship at Magny Cours this weekend, but sadly was unable to convert that into results in the two races at ...
QUAIFE-HOBBS HAPPY WITH FRENAULT PROGRESS
Adrian Quaife-Hobbs set a blinding pace in testing for the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Championship at Magny Cours this weekend, but sadly was unable to convert that into results in the two races at the magnificent Grand Prix track. The 16 year-old, who made an impressive debut at Donington Park recently, travelled out to the home of the French Grand Prix in confident mood but mindful that the opposition had all either raced or tested at the 2.6 mile circuit.
Despite that, the youngster quickly settled into the groove, posting the fifth quickest time early in the session, only to be bumped down to 15th when his rivals all switched to new tyres. "It was encouraging still to be running up at the front, in fifth out of 40 runners," said Adrian. "It was my very first time there and I'd had just the testing on Thursday to try and acclimatise to the track and the car following my one race so far in Donington, so I was reasonably happy with that.
"Sadly, when it came to qualifying I was just unable to get a clear lap, with 40 cars out on the track at the same time; I just couldn't find a space and wound up 18th and 20th, but still out of the 40 who have raced in this highly-competitive championship all season. But I can take consolation from the fact that, when we looked at the data after the session and compared my sector times, had I been able to hook up all the sectors together, I'd have been seventh quickest!"
Race one, held on Saturday afternoon, was to mark another first for the MSA British Race Elite/BRDC Rising Star as torrential rain greeted the drivers as they took to the grid for the start. Such was the intensity of the rain; the decision was taken to start the race under the safety car which ended up staying out for 15 of the 25 minute race, leaving just ten minutes of racing action.
Things were looking good for Adrian for a 15th place finish, as he proved adept at staying on the track in the treacherous conditions when many of his rival could not, until a car running close behind, rammed the back of Adrian's BVM Minardi car and pushed him off into the gravel. Although the driver was later penalised for dangerous driving, it sadly was no consolation to Adrian, as he was unable to rejoin the race and had to sit out the remaining laps.
By race two on Sunday morning, the track conditions had improved, although the track was still damp, leaving teams with the difficult decision of which tyres to use. With a dry line appearing, Adrian and the BVM Minardi squad elected to choose slick tyres as did the others, but once they ventured out onto the track for the start, this decision although necessary, caught Adrian out at the lights as he started on the left, wetter part of the track.
"We didn't really have any choice but to go for slick tyres, but unfortunately, my side of the track was on the wet line, as the other side had the benefit of the sun drying it out. This meant I lost a few places off the line and again, going into the first corner, as I had to learn so many different things at once. Despite that though, I managed to keep it on the track until the very last lap, when my team-mate made a move up the inside of me and locked up and hit the back of my car giving me a flat tyre and damaging the rear wing."
The incident caused instant retirement for the Tonbridge youngster but he's vowed to be back with a vengeance when the series returns, at another new track for the teenager, Estoril in Portugal on October 21st.
"Although I didn't finish either race, there are definitely some positives to take out of this weekend. I'm still learning the car and how to set it up properly, it was a brand new track for me and in both races I had new conditions to get used to. And I'm very happy with the overall performance, not least because the more time I spend in the car, the more confident I get and the easier it becomes. I'm really looking forward now to the challenge of Estoril."