Chris van der Drift increases lead in Formula Master Estoril - Chris van der Drift's lead in the 2008 Formula Master Championship has increased as a result of the past weekends races at the Portuguese circuit of Circuito do Estoril, the Kiwi ...
Chris van der Drift increases lead in Formula Master
Estoril - Chris van der Drift's lead in the 2008 Formula Master Championship has increased as a result of the past weekends races at the Portuguese circuit of Circuito do Estoril, the Kiwi managing to keep his main competitor, former Red Bull F1-tester Michael Ammermuller, behind him in both races. This was on a circuit where it proved extremely difficult to make passing moves, but the 22 year old New Zealander nevertheless gained a second place finish in race one and a hard fought for fourth position in race two, this race being characterized by very 'close racing'.
Estoril was new on the calendar after it replaced the street race held in Porto last year. Van der Drift set the fastest lap time in the pre-qualifying test sessions, and in the first portion of the qualifying session late on Friday afternoon Van der Drift had also set the quickest times. However Swiss driver Fabio Leimer and German Michael Ammermuller both set quicker times in the dying stages of the session. "Just as my second set of tyres were at their best, I lost time in traffic. After that it was difficult to lap any faster and ultimately we were two tenths of a second short of pole. But a grid three start position is not all too bad, it means I still have a chance to win" said an optimistic Van der Drift.
And this he did immediately at the start. The New Zealander, now with Oakley as a personal sponsor, was able to get alongside Ammermuller and pulled off a pass on the outside through turn one. The chase to catch the race-leader occurred mid-race when the best of the tyres had been used. "We had decided to start on older tyres, while Fabio had a new set of tyres. He opened up a gap at the start but as his tyres wore down I was quicker and closed the gap he had made. The gap at the end was still really too much for me to make a serious effort of catching and passing him" concluded Van der Drift, who would be one of a small number of drivers to start race two on new tyres.
The JD Motorsport driver started from grid seven for the second race courteous of the top eight reversed grid rule that the championship runs under. This actually made little difference to the Kiwi as he had a great start and in the first lap had moved up two places. The top of the field had little between them and although passing on the circuit proved extremely difficult, Van der Drift managed to improve another place on lap two. Third placed, German Tim Sandtler, was slower than the New Zealander, yet the Kiwi could not find a way past even though he placed the German under great pressure for the remainder of the 24 lap race. "The track outside the racing line is really dirty and slip-streaming on the straight didn't always work. Just before the straight is a fast sweeping bend where you lose too much downward force if you are immediately behind someone and that makes it difficult coming onto the main straight" said Van der Drift. "I have scored six more points than Michae l this weekend, so that opens the championship lead up to 10 points, so as far as that is concerned it is 'mission accomplished'."
The English circuit of Brands Hatch is the venue for the following race weekend in two weeks time, which could prove to be interesting and could start in Van der Drift's advantage. "On Friday we have our usual two 45 minute test sessions, but these will be on the short circuit due to noise restrictions. We then have qualifying on the Saturday (normally Friday) on the full circuit. At the beginning of May I drove in the A1GP rookie sessions setting the fastest lap time, so I know the circuit quite well. Quite a few of the drivers don't know the circuit so that will be interesting", said Van der Drift.