Valtteri Bottas extends Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 points lead with two wins After having won both races during the season opener at the Hockenheimring Baden-Wurttemberg, Finnish driver, Valtteri Bottas continued his ...
Valtteri Bottas extends Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0 points lead with two wins
After having won both races during the season opener at the Hockenheimring Baden-Wurttemberg, Finnish driver, Valtteri Bottas continued his winning streak in the Northern European Cup Formula Renault 2.0. During the "Jubileumraces" meeting at Circuit Park Zandvoort, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Dutch race track, the driver of the Motopark Academy team came on top in both races to extend his points lead.
Valtteri Bottas emulated his performance from the season opener at Hockenheim by claiming pole position for both races at Zandvoort. In qualifying for the first race, he was fastest with a lap time of 1.38.896 minutes, followed by four other drivers of the Motopark Academy team. With German Tobias Hegewald (1.39.038) second, Pole Kuba Giermaziak (1.39.055) third, Portuguese Antonio Felix da Costa (1.39.205) fourth and Dane Johan Jokinen (1.39.226) fifth, there were five drivers from five different countries on the first five places. MP Motorsport's Nicky Catsburg was the best-placed Dutch driver on the grid, his fastest lap time of 1.39.436 minutes put him sixth on the grid. Daniel Aho (Koiranen Bros.) was less fortunate: he crashed in the Gerlach corner and his car was so badly damaged, that he had to miss out on the subsequent second qualifying session as well.
For the second race, Bottas was fastest qualifier with a lap time of 1.37.550 minutes, again leading his fellow four Motopark drivers in the following order: Tobias Hegewald second (1.37.884), Antonio Felix da Costa third (1.38.077), Johan Jokinen fourth (1.38.131) and Kuba Giermaziak fifth (1.38.202). Stef Dusseldorp emerged as the best placed driver from The Netherlands, claiming sixth place on the grid with his Van Amersfoort Racing entry, one place ahead of Nicky Catsburg.
The weather was dry when the race started, but the track was still damp. There were no problems at the start, but at Gerlach corner, Marlene Dietrich (SL Formula Racing) and Daniel Ivarsson (Trackstar) collided and hit the tyre barriers. Both drivers emerged unscathed, but the safety car was out for three laps to allow for the cars and the debris to be removed. Meanwhile, Motopark's Tobias Hegewald had already overtaken Bottas, who had some trouble finding the right gear, but then Bottas got back into his rhythm and put his German team-mate under pressure. On lap five, Hegewald spun and dropped back to 19th. Later on, he managed to overtake no less than ten cars and finished ninth as a result. Meanwhile, Bottas drove victory home from his team-mates Antonio Felix da Costa, Kuba Giermaziak and Johan Jokinen. There were many position changes in the field, among others involving GU Racing's Maxi Wissel and the three Dutch drivers, Nicky Catsburg, Kelvin Snoeks (AR Motorsport) and Stef Dusseldorp. The latter however dropped back and eventually had to make do with 13th place.
Next to Dietrich and Ivarson, who were out on the opening lap, other retired drivers were Daniel Aho and Mateusz Adamski. The former continued his streak of bad luck with an engine problem after he had crashed out at Gerlach on the day before, the latter was sidelined by mechanical failure on the final lap of the race after a strong showing.
A good performance was also shown by French rookie driver, Laurent Stieger (Krenek Motorsport), who achieved the target he had set himself by making it to the finish in his maiden race in the Formula Renault 2.0.
Valtteri Bottas (1st place, Motopark Academy):
"I had a good start and had a good speed but at the first corner I made a mistake with my gear changes so Tobias Hegewald overtook me. I really started to push and when Hegewald spun I was able to take the lead again. The track was very slippery but after the safety car intervention, the circuit conditions became much better. I could see in my mirrors that there was quite a gap, so towards the end, I did not push so much anymore and brought the car home safely."
Antonio Felix Da Costa (2nd place, Motopark Academy):
"I started from fourth position and when I overtook Kuba Giermaziak, my team mate, in the first corner I went up to third and then I overtook Tobias and went to second, I kept on pushing to be near Bottas. I was lucky in the race to overtake when I could as overtaking isn't easy at this circuit. My target is to be on the podium as many times as possible and to be as quick as Bottas."
Kuba Giermaziak (3rd place, Motopark Academy):
"It was a tough race. I lost one place as Antonio overtook me on the outside in the first corner. After the accident and behind the safety car I was able to heat up my tyres really well. My speed was ok and I could do some really consistent lap times. I am happy with my third place."
Starting from pole position, Valtteri Bottas didn't put one foot wrong and led all the way from lights to flag to claim his fourth straight win of the season. However, he had to work hard for it, as his German team-mate Tobias Hegewald kept him under pressure all the time and finished within one second of the winner. Third and fourth place were also taken by drivers from the Motopark Academy with Antonio Felix da Costa and Johan Jokinen respectively.
Again, the race was marked by some nice battles, among others involving Dusseldorp, Catsburg and Wissel. Nicky Catsburg drove a fine race until he spun on lap 8. He dropped back to 21st and came home 18th. Stef Dusseldorp made up for his poor result in the first race by finishing fifth as the best-placed Dutch driver from Juan-Pablo Garcia and Mateusz Adamski, for whom seventh place was some consolation after his unfortunate retirement from the first race.
Dutch driver, Bart Hylkema, a rookie driver with the Finnish Koirainen team, finished a creditable 14th after having started 22nd. Following his crash in the first race, Daniel Aho started from the back of the grid and was classified 16th. The two ladies in the NECUP, Marlene Dietrich and Bianca Steiner (Steiner Motorsport) had mixed results. Steiner took a 14th and a twelfth place from the two races while Dietrich came back from her crash in the first race to finish 15th in the second race.
Valtteri Bottas (1st place, Motopark Academy):
"The second race was not as easy as the first one. Tobias really pushed but as we had similar laptimes I was very conscious that I should not make any mistakes. Again, I am very happy to be on the top spot of the podium."
Tobias Hegewald (2nd place, Motopark Academy):
"Yes, I am smiling again. During the first race it just did not seem to work in my head. I came on the dirt, locked wheels, so I spun and lost... This race both Bottas and I were doing similar laptimes, so all I could to do was to push Bottas and to wait for him to make a mistake, which he did not do. But I am happy to be back on the podium again."
Antonio Felix Da Costa (3rd place, Motopark Academy):
"I had a great weekend. Two podium places, which makes it three out of four races. I kept following Bottas and Hegewald but did not want to loose the car so I kept a good pace, looked in my mirrors and brought the car home."