Disappointing weekend for Chris van der Drift in Sweden Disappointing weekend for Chris van der Drift in Sweden [vandy.jpg] Anderstorp, Sweden, 13 August 2006 -- Kiwi race-car driver Chris van der Drift experienced a difficult time at...
Disappointing weekend for Chris van der Drift in Sweden
Disappointing weekend for Chris van der Drift in Sweden [vandy.jpg] Anderstorp, Sweden, 13 August 2006 -- Kiwi race-car driver Chris van der Drift experienced a difficult time at Anderstorp, Sweden over the weekend, during the thirteenth and fourteenth rounds of the Formula Renault Northern European Championship. With a third and seventh placing in the races, the young New Zealander saw his previous lead in the championship turn into a 17 point deficit on new championship leader, Felipe Albuquerque. However Van der Drift is determined to try and regain the championship lead at Salzburg (Austria) in the final races to be held over the weekend of 15-17 September.
The weekend at Anderstorp started well with the first practice session on Friday. The circuit was completely new to Van der Drift and his JD Motorsport race-team. However that did not pose a real problem with a time that was second quickest at the end of the session. However the second test session later in the day was a complete reversal of conditions with teaming rain and track conditions that were abominable. Van der Drift drove his first laps in the rain and that went well, with a third quickest time the result.
To make the task of qualifying more difficult, the weather was a mix of dry, damp and extremely wet! At the beginning Van der Drift drove onto the half dry/half wet circuit with slick tyres. However towards the end of the session the circuit became faster, but that resulted in significant under-steer, with the end result an 8th quickest qualifying time. This was a big disappointment for the Kiwi driver.
The first race was held just after 5pm on the Saturday afternoon but the weather had not improved. Rather it had become worse with violent rain. The race director decided that the race would be a rolling start behind the safety car. Van der Drift seized his chance immediately after the start and drove through to the leading group, notwithstanding speed and setup issues with the race-car in the conditions. In spite of that, Van der Drift finished on the podium with a neat third place. Grid positions for Sunday's race two were taken from the fastest lap times in race one the day before. Due to the problems experienced it meant he would start from grid seven. And initially it seemed the race would begin in dry conditions. But an hour before the race started the sky opened and it began raining heavily. So it meant a change to wet tyres and set-up. In the first lap of the race Van der Drift passed his Portuguese rival Felipe Albuquerque, but shortly after Albuquerque was able to re-take his sixth position. Later in the race, while in fifth position, and challenging for fourth place, Van der Drift slid momentarily from the race track and re-joined to finally finish seventh.
Chris van der Drift: "It was a disappointing weekend. On Friday we were looking good, but from the time of qualifying it didn't go so well. As the track became dryer I couldn't match the faster lap times. On the other hand, thanks to a good start in race one I could manage a podium finish. But I did have problems with the speed in the car and as the start grid for race two was taken from everybody's fastest lap, I had to start further back in seventh. We altered the set-up, but unfortunately it didn't give me the speed I was looking for. The seventh place in race two was really disappointing, but at the end of the day the best I could do. Thanks to my team, especially my mechanic Alberto and my engineer Roberto. It was a really difficult weekend. If I'm to win the championship now I'll have to dominate the last NEC Formula Renault weekend at Salzberg!"
Chris van der Drift drives for the Italian race-team JD Motorsport, based in Vespolate west of Milano in Italy.
The next events on Van der Drift's race calendar are :
08 -- 10 September at Donington, England, for the 9th & 10th rounds of the Eurocup Formula Renault Championship, &
15 -- 17 September at Salzburg, Austria, for the 15th & 16th (& final) rounds of the Northern European Formula Renault Championship.