Chris van der Drift wins in Formula Masters thriller at Brands Hatch Brands Hatch, 27 July 2008 - Chris van der Drift can look backwards at the results he achieved at Brands Hatch over the weekend with satisfaction. In the ninth and tenth rounds...
Chris van der Drift wins in Formula Masters thriller at Brands Hatch
Brands Hatch, 27 July 2008 - Chris van der Drift can look backwards at the results he achieved at Brands Hatch over the weekend with satisfaction. In the ninth and tenth rounds of the International Formula Master championship he finished in both cases on the podium. Having started from grid six, the runner-up from last year won the first race and after a race long battle in the second race had worked himself from a grid 8 start to a third placed podium finish. In doing so he also recorded the fastest race lap.
Before the race weekend started, Van der Drift and other drivers in the IFM championship visited the head office and workshops of the Honda Racing F1 team in Brackley. One of the reasons is that this years championship winner will be awarded a test drive in the current RA108 Formula 1 car of the team. And Van der Drift was suitably impressed with Honda's facilities. "This is very nice. It's really impressive to see what a Formula 1 team can do. There is so much money necessary to run the operation it's staggering, they have everything in there house."
After Friday's test sessions, in which Van der Drift set the quickest overall lap times, the Kiwi continued in the Saturday qualifying session by also posting the fastest laps. However, in spite of this, the New Zealander was forced to start the first race from grid six. "In my opinion there was a problem in communication between race-control and the flag marshals" said Van der Drift. "Apparently there was a section of the circuit that was covered by a yellow flag, yet I had already set my fastest lap just earlier, and had then slowed. But race-control judged this differently and penalized me by putting me back 5 places."
Van der Drift began the first race with a good start and immediately latched onto the leading group in fourth place. The JD Motorsport driver attacked numerous times in an effort to secure third position, but it was proving difficult to make a pass as the race was interrupted three times by a safety car period. Van der Drift remained in contact with the leading group and when one of those drivers made a mistake it was the Kiwi that was able to make the most of the opportunity presented, and found himself behind JD Motorsport team-mate Sergey Afansiev challenging for the lead of the race. After a brilliant passing move the New Zealander claimed the lead and the race win was within his grasp. "Kasper Andersen had a problem and I was able to pass Fabio Leimer at the start so I was in fourth position by turn one. After two safety-car periods the driver in front of me tried to pass my team-mate Sergey for second position in Druids bend, but the move went wrong. He touched Sergey's right rear wheel which sent his car out of control across the hairpin and into the side of the leaders car driven by Norbert Siedler who then also lost control of his car. Two corners later I had a good run out of Surtees for the long straight and was able to pass Sergey for the lead", said van der Drift.
Due to the 'reversed grid' format, the first eight finishers in race one have their positions reversed for race two, meaning the New Zealander would start on grid 8 for the race held on Sunday. After a good start the New Zealander was in fifth position after the first lap. The Kiwi tried many times to overtake the car in front of him but was given no room in which to carry out a successful pass. After a short safety-car phase, he found himself in fourth position when the current race leader spun off the track. What followed was a contest of three drivers vying for third position in the race, Van der Drift the last of the group, when the driver immediately before Van der Drift succumbed under pressure and spun. With quick reactions the Kiwi was able to avoid the spinning car and then the hunt for third position was on. What followed was 'close racing' at it's best, with positions being continually swapped. Ultimately third place proved to be the hard won result. "I had to wait for mistakes made by drivers in front of me to allow me an opportunity to make a pass. I couldn't afford to take unnecessary risks because I knew that my greatest rival, Michael Ammermuller, was in the lead and I had to concentrate on scoring points. I also have my mind set on winning the F1 test drive."
With a lead of thirteen points in the championship, Van der Drift heads off to the German circuit of Oschersleben on the weekend of 29-31 August to contest the eleventh & twelfth rounds of the International Formula Master championship. The Kiwi has good memories of the circuit from last year, finishing in second and first places in the races.