NEC: Series Assen summary

Valtteri Bottas starts second half of the season with two wins at Assen After an absence of one weekend, Valtteri Bottas made a winning return to the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0. In the fifth meeting of the year, the Finnish...

Valtteri Bottas starts second half of the season with two wins at Assen

After an absence of one weekend, Valtteri Bottas made a winning return to the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0. In the fifth meeting of the year, the Finnish driver of the Motopark Academy team won both rounds at the TT Circuit in Assen, The Netherlands, bringing his total number of season wins to eight. On Saturday, his Polish team-mate Kuba Giermaziak scored his best result so far by finishing second and he emulated this achievement on Sunday. Antonio Felix da Costa came home third in the first race while German Tobias Hegewald claimed the final slot on the podium on Sunday.

Qualifying:

In qualifying for the first race, Valtteri Bottas put his car on pole with a fastest lap time of 1.37.638 minutes at the 4.555 kilometres long TT Circuit Assen. His Polish team-mate Kuba Giermaziak qualified second, locking out the front row for the Motopark Academy team, but Giermaziak's lap time was no less than 1.009 seconds slower than the time set by Bottas. With MP Motorsport's Nicky Catsburg in third and Van Amersfoort Racing's Stef Dusseldorp in fourth place, the second row of the grid was firmly in the hands of Dutch drivers, followed by another Motopark trio with Felix da Costa, Johan Jokinen and Tobias Hegewald, with Alexander Morgan (Double M Racing) a fine eighth in his first-ever qualifying session in the NEC.

Qualifying for the second race saw Bottas claiming pole again, but not only was his fastest lap time of 1.37.864 minutes slower than his pole-winning time in the first heat, his margin was considerably smaller, too, as second- fastest Nicky Catsburg was only 0.288 seconds short of the fastest time set by Bottas. Motopark drivers Giermaziak, da Costa and Jokinen qualified third, fourth and fifth respectively, followed bt Dusseldorp, Morgan and Hegewald.

Race 1:

Before the race, clouds were packing above the circuit but the race went underway in dry conditions. The start saw no difficulties with Bottas taking the lead from pole. All went well until the field reached the "Stekkenwal" section. At this point, several cars became involved in an accident. First, Johan Jokinen wanted to overtake and went on the inside of Dusseldorp and da Costa. He hit da Costa and locked wheels with Dusseldorp, who went outside of the track straight into the gravel. Morgan slowed down to avoid a collision, turned in but got hit by Kleveros in the back, while Hegewald hit Kleveros in return. For both Morgan and Dusseldorp, this was the end of the race. Another victim of the pile-up was Daniel Aho, who lost the nose of his car and had to visit the pitlane twice during the race.

To sort out the chaos, the safety car was deployed and once all the cars had been removed, the green flag was given with 12 minutes to go. Bottas was still leading the field, followed by his team-mate Kuba Giermaziak, but after racing resumed, the Finn pulled clear by one second per lap. Nick Catsburg (MP Motorsport) had started third, moved up to second and then dropped back to third again. While he was fighting his way back up, Forsman touched Martin Tlusty (TL Motorsport) on lap five. Forsman lost the nose of his car and when he wanted to drive into the pitlane Johan Jokinen touched him. Jokinen ended up in the gravel trap and Forsman had to jump out of his car, which was stuck just before the entry of the pitlane.

As a result, another safety car period followed and with 5.45 minutes to go, the safety car went back in again and racing resumed. The restart went well, after which Bottas went on to claim his seventh win of the season from Giermaziak and da Costa. Nigel Melker, who had started 15th, was running in an excellent fourth place, but he incurred a 30 seconds' time penalty for having failed to use the mandatory escape road to come back on the track from the run-off area. This made him drop back to 14th place in the final classification. Daniel Aho was also penalised for overtaking during the safety car period.

A few other drivers managed to benefit the accidents, like Thomas Knopper who had started 20th and came home ninth. Daniel de Jong drove a good race, starting 18th and finishing a fine eighth. Newcomer Arnold Neveling made his way up from twelfth to sixth, Kelvin Snoeks moved up from 13th to seventh and Bart Hylkema from 19th to eleventh.

Post-race quotes Race 1:

Valtteri Bottas (1st place, Motopark Academy):

"It was a strange race. We only had five flying laps and during the safety car periods I had to keep my tyres warm. The track was more slippery than yesterday, maybe because of the motorbikes that were running on the circuit earlier on. As a result, the lap times were nearly two seconds slower, but I had two good restarts and could easily keep the gap."

Kuba Giermaziak (2nd place, Motopark Academy):

"It was a very strange race indeed. The bikes put a different kind of rubber on the track which made the track more slippery. Still, I am very happy as second place here today is my best result in the series yet..."

Antonio Felix da Costa (3rd place, Motopark Academy.):

"I can only say the same as everybody else: it was a very strange race. I started fifth, but I knew I had the speed to make it into the top three. I overtook Catsburg, then he overtook me, but in the end I finished third, so I am a sort of happy to be on the podium."

Race 2:

The race went underway and the fight was on at the front of the field. Having started from pole, Valtteri Bottas drove his own race, extending his lead by about half a second a lap and he went on to claim his eighth win of the season, which was never in danger.

Nicky Catsburg drove a very exciting race, trying to follow Bottas but mainly trying to hold off a charging Giermaziak. However, his efforts turned out to be fruitless as Giermaziak finally found a way past the Dutchman on lap three and then motored on to yet another podium finish.

Then the fight was on for place three. Catsburg, who was under massive pressure, made a vital mistake on lap eleven, closing the door on Felix da Costa. The two cars touched, Catsburg lost both the nose of his machine and his third place. Due to this incident Hegewald could overtake both cars and finished a lucky third.

Further down the field Daniel de Jong had moved up to eighth place but made a mistake on lap 6 and eventually came home in a rather disappointing 16th place. Stef Dusseldorp started sixth but had contact with Jokinen, which made Jokinen lose the front section of his car and drop back to 18th. The Dane surely will not look back upon this weekend as a happy one. Dusseldorp dropped back to 23rd, but had a great recovery, working his way back up to finish a fine sixth.

MP motorsport did not have a happy Sunday. Just like his team-mate Nicky Catsburg, Mateusz Adamski was unlucky as he spun and got stuck on the kerbstone. Van Amersfoort's Nigel Melker having to brake hard to avoid a collision, locked up and ended up in the gravel trap.

Newcomer and guest from the UK series Alexander Morgan drove a good steady race. After his early retirement on the previous day, he now made it to the finish in fifth place. Both drivers of the Koiranen team, Daniel Aho and Bart Hylkema were also luckier than on the day before, now finishing both in the top 10. The AR Motorsport drivers had a good Sunday, all of them able to improve on their grid positions and taking the flag in tenth to 13th place with Arnold Neveling, Kelvin Snoeks and Thomas Knopper finishing in that order. The only woman in the field, SL Formula's Marlene Dietrich had her best result this Sunday finishing 17th. KEO Racing's Kevin Kleveros also scored his best result to date by finishing 14th.

Post-race quotes Race 2:

Valtteri Bottas (1st place, Motopark Academy):

"I had a better start than yesterday. In the beginning I started to push to make a gap. Then I could take it a little bit easier. I could see the fight going on. On the last lap I tried to slow down to shorten the race with one lap but there was just too much time left."

Kuba Giermaziak (2nd place, Motopark Academy):

"I had a very good weekend. Two second places is really good. The track was not as slippery as yesterday. I pushed to get past Catsburg and when he made a mistake on lap three, I started pushing to pull clear from the driver behind me. Bottas was just to quick for me."

Tobias Hegewald (3rd place, Motopark Academy):

"I had a good start and could overtake Morgan on my first lap. Then I was behind Felix da Costa who was having a fight with Catsburg. When I saw the chance, I overtook both of them and I am happy to be on the podium again."

-credit: necup.com

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Tobias Hegewald , Valtteri Bottas , Antonio Felix da Costa , Johan Jokinen , Stef Dusseldorp , Nigel Melker , Kelvin Snoeks , Bart Hylkema , Nicky Catsburg , Jakub Giermaziak
Teams MP Motorsport