Chris van der Drift grabs superior wins in Formula Master The first race weekend of the 2008 season started with a bang! Kiwi driver Chris van der Drift proved his favourite status by winning both races of International Formula Master on the ...
Chris van der Drift grabs superior wins in Formula Master
The first race weekend of the 2008 season started with a bang! Kiwi driver Chris van der Drift proved his favourite status by winning both races of International Formula Master on the Spanish circuit of Valencia. The 22 year old New Zealander showed his intentions early on by taking pole position, and then followed it up with two race wins and two fastest race laps.
On the Tuesday and Wednesday prior, Van der Drift took part in the collective test days in preparation for the first race weekend of the 2008 season. During these sessions he proved to be one of the clear favourites being consistently at the top of the timesheets. With huge faith in his car and in his race-team, he completed two test sessions on the Friday, and just as with the official collective tests his name was one of those with the quickest laps. In the only qualifying session late on Friday afternoon, the JD Motorsport driver grabbed pole position for the weekend's first race.
After a fantastic lightning start the Kiwi seized the lead of race one and by the end of the lap was already a second clear of his pursuers. Lap after lap, van der Drift saw his opponents gradually disappear out of his mirrors, and unthreatened the 2007 runner-up crossed the finish line with both hands in the air in triumph. In addition to setting the fastest race lap, Van der Drift was no less than 10 seconds in front of his nearest competition at the end of the 19 lap race.
As the positions of the first eight finishers are reversed for race two, Van der Drift's start position was Grid 8 for the race on Sunday. This proved to be absolutely no problem for the New Zealander. However instead of sun, the second race began with rain slightly before race start. Despite this most drivers, Van der Drift included, chose slick tyres, the race being started behind the safety car. Once the field was released after two laps, Van der Drift began on a heroic challenge first passing former team-mate Kasper Andersen into turn one. Then it was the turn of Fabio Leimer and former F1 test driver Michael Ammermuller two laps later. However next was fellow competitor Pablo Sanchez Lopez, who proved to have a quick car despite the fact that the left hand portion of his front wing was missing from an earlier tussle. After several laps pressuring Sanchez Lopez, Van der Drift made a move into turn two on lap 11, the young Mexican valiantly trying to retake his position an d briefly coming into contact with the Kiwi driver. Van der Drift withstood the challenge, fortunately not sustaining any damage. He was now in 3rd position with a gap of over 4 seconds to Czech Filip Salaquarda in front of him. Within 4 laps the New Zealander had caught and passed him, his sights now firmly set on former GP2 Asia competitor Harald Schlegelmilch. It seemed an impossible task but as the track got better and better, Van der Drift's race pace was substantially quicker than that of the Latvian driver, who was 9 seconds clear at that point with 9 laps to go. This proved to be no obstacle, the Trident Racing driver seeing the fluoro yellow coloured front wings of Van der Drift's car closing by over a second with every lap, and soon filled his mirrors with four laps to go. A brief attempt at defence, and Van der Drift was through opening a gap up of 5.5 seconds at the chequered flag.
Chris van der Drift: "The weekend really could not have been better getting pole, two wins and two fastest race laps. The second race was really neat. It looked like it would be a huge challenge having to start behind the safety car due to the weather, but after the safety cars lights were turned off and we could begin racing I gave it the full 100%. We were so fantastically quick, and I need to thank my team so much for giving me such a fast car! With 9 laps to go and with 9 seconds to catch-up and pass for first place, and then to finish with over 5 seconds lead is just fantastic! I am looking forward already to Pau in two weeks, as I enjoy street circuits. Last year we went well there with a win, so that is the aim!"