Oh dear Michael, if the car snaps like that on landing, for sure it was not a car worth naming one that has any handling at all...and indeed, you came a long way too like Yannick. I hope your efforts even if not resulting in the finish you wanted, it leads to a good lap in the summer that gives you a good hike in ranking and newfound comfort around the circuit once the barrier is broken
The Zandvoort race I felt was a bit of a watershed moment, a real low of lows. After a string of freezes, getting in wrecks and then far too much distractions at Zandvoort around me in the living room from everyone enough was enough. With Yannick we already had agreed before Zandvoort to swap cars for the Nordschleife and was feeling more determined than ever to just leave the ill fortunes and mishaps behind me. There would be no better opportunity than at this track, where at least freezes would not happen and I always do well.
Up till now my overall PB was still the 7:58 in the BRM from 2002, and this of course then had to go. In practice I pushed hard but needed some time to get a good full lap in whilst getting used to the red car's abilities. I don't think I quite fully got them out of the Ferrari to my best ability still at this track (being closer to the WR in the heavy cars), however a 7:53.1 the day before the race and steady laps below 8:00, even with spins etc at times, left me optimistic for the race. People would have to turn up in at least a Ferrari or Lotus to get there too
I think it helps to have spent the day pretty much alone. I first drove 190 km to a family birthday party alone, and then back the same length, coming home an hour before qualifying started. The rest of the family spent the day in Haarlem being tourists, so they would not be home during the race as well. Coming straight into practice turned a 7:54 and felt more and more this had to be my race, after in recent years a freeze at Assen, a crash at Schottenring under pressure from Rob and other opportunities to win a oAo race for first time since winning the 2005 Riverside race in the BRM had come and gone.
Qualifying was a steady build up, the laps got quicker with time although also a bit untidy at first, having to straightline the kinks after Pflanzgarten to keep from possibly crashing, but the last lap was the tidiest and as a result the quickest, fortunately safe for pole but not sure about race pace, I knew Rob can put down a high pace an I have the quickest pace in opening laps usually, so hoped to make it to T1 first as well
My 1st gear was basically as long as 2nd in the BRM, so it was long, and it did bog down a bit, allowing Roy in the Lotus to pull ahead of me towards turn one. I was still on his inside in his blind spot, and he left generous room avoiding a possible clash, whilst I made sure to stay on the left half of the track. It worked out well and I felt a big relief to be leading there. After a bit hairy T3 I got my head down and focussed on pushing, and it helped with Roy and Rob getting smaller in the mirrors rapidly, it was a bit surprising to me, after 1 lap to have almost 10 seconds in hand, but it was to Rob, so I knew it was not done yet.
A good second lap in 7:57.0 saw the gap go up to 14 seconds already, so I started to ease a bit however this made me sloppy once in lap 3 and 4, with a almost half spin in Kleine Karoussel and a mild tap of the barrier at Schwalbenschwanz on the left side. Still they were sub 8 laps but I knew i had to get quicker to not give Rob hope of putting pressure on me. I pushed harder and was listening after the big Karoussel when Rob would pass by and this seemed to remain stable pretty much, only on pitboard saw it go up to 17 seconds before the last lap when having done a 7:55. Then in last lap I wanted to ensure I got the fastest lap, the car feeling almost like in qualifying but now running a bit higher on it's wheels so safe to push through all the jumps and dips hard. It was a joy to drive that lap, feeling free from all the frustrations and focus troubles, and was not really thinking about having won until coming onto the home stretch. A bit loud shout followed though, it really felt like a weight off the shoulders, in many ways. I hope it leads to some more beautiful moments in the second half of the season, with a bit of luck and coins to have something else but a Cooper to drive
Thanks go to Yannick, for having offered the swap of chassis, and to my family for giving me the space to prepare for this moment. Also to Rob for keeping me honest and alert through the middle part of the race, you did well yourself too
I had not gathered much of what had befallen all of you but having seen it all now, I am amazed with Yannick's drive home in such a bent car for no fewer than 120 km, true grit that! You had such an amazing opening lap too, very well done making the most of what happened around you:)
Also solid finished for the Honda drivers, well done Dag and Ed for getting good results in such a challenging car/track combination. Feeling sorry for Roy having been caught unlucky in Iestyn's spin losing a wheel, who himself soldiered back to a comfortable podium finish. Also Michael deserved better results after what looked like promising pace in the Brabham. Indeed, if you didn't already go below 8 minutes, now is the time to do it!
Enjoy your summer breaks all, and hope everyone is fresh and ready for when it resumes. Will try to attend the summer specials, wanted to get my teeth into the Targa circuit in finished version finally
Well done on the podium result Michael, indeed it is so important to remain in the comfort zone here. I sometime find myself lured out of it if a race win is possible when I push harder, but here that was not yet the case until the freeze happened. I didn't have much left on the cards though anyway
Running tracks like this from time to time in oAo is one of the few reasons that keep me challenged and motivated actually, whilst enduring the setbacks. In the old days oAo also had a system which compensated for a slower car entry to try and spice up the field when the team part was not as big as it is now. Now coins partly replaced that, but once you have a healthy buffer of coins you don't really have to worry about losing your fast cars either even if 1 bad mishap happens. So now you begin to see the same teams on top with the quicker cars in the race results. Gaining coins for faster cars yourself becomes tougher as the results you can get don't help as much, unless you run on tracks where the driver makes the most difference, not the car. If we were to lose the challenging tracks it would possibly be a reason for me not to enter anymore, unless the regulations see a compensation for the slower chassis entries in points besides the G level compensation that is already in place. This would reward a good drive better IMHO. However it would help to have a regular 19 car field to implement such a thing, in D1 this seems to vary too much.
One of my favourite tracks this, and the last one I really hotlapped upon track release date before slowly turning into the racer I am today, just league driving and not so much time spent going quickly
I got to drive the Cooper only this early morning before going to the beach but soon the flow was there and the setup was pleasant to drive, could even attack the circuit like I wanted to, just not to pull a 32 together, did do several 33s in practice that morning.
Come qualifying I got home from the beach just in time to join, and the banker lap immediately felt good is not too quick, a high 34. However pushing for more I always got a bit wayward in places where I would not have to write off the car fortunately, but still, no better result. The last lap I got in was surprisingly still a 34,1 after a bump and bogging down at the town hairpin, and coasting to pitstall to try and leave once more until seeing I just had 2:20 left on the clock. So that lap became P4 after Yannick improved a lot to a high 32, but hopeful of a good result still.
The opening lap was a very cautious one through the village, it was almost throwing me off a bit at the town hairpin again as I carried more speed at the apex after rolling it in slowly. after the gaps opened up a little I was a bit held up behind Yannick who was visibly pushing, but he was kind to let me through and follow in my wake, as I set off in an effort to catch up to Rob and Roy who at that point were still not too far ahead. I was actually gaining a bit on lap 4-5, setting fastest lap in the 2:34s already, and only by a few tenths but it felt great pushing the car on high fuel and attacking the course almost like in qualifying, just keeping a bit of a check on myself in places where it did not go well in Q to make sure I got a good line and exit in those places. That way I was hopeful to still be able to give the 2 leaders a run for their money, but at the very end of lap 6 the screen froze coming out of the last bend, and that was that....5th DNF in 6 races, and the 4th where I couldn't do a thing about it really, 2 wrecks and 2 freezes. Enough to feel a bit frustrated, especially after performing at a level where I can finally feel I am getting back to my old self a bit. It bodes well for similar places like the Nordschleife, will see how that will go
Well done Yannick! Good job driving it home, saw the video, hairy moments but those are inevitable at Monaco. Only need to look at the lap 1 mess! I hope it is spared for us in D2, with a bit of luck
For me pace came quickly before the Qually, and felt if getting chicane right a mid 27 was easily possible. I never really got the cleanest of laps in but my last effort was enough for a 27 with a good chicane run but less effective earlier part of the lap and last corner. I saw in sectors that lower 27 was on the cards but what can you do with so little time
The race was another disappointment, seeing the melee starting to unfold I did a Bandini myself which in fact helped to slow down a lot to try and then carefully roll through but the mess was too big and clipped Roy's Lotus and ended up on the head...a bit too much bad luck so far this season and hope to break through it in the next couple races. Onwards to Sachsenring, the last GPL track I really really hotlapped like in the old days. The BRM PB I drove was an overall WR for over a week after track release, and still stands as BRM WR. I hope to beat it in the Cooper, or maybe I will return to the tank depending on funds after D2.
No worries Roy, this stuff can happen easily and you did well on your comeback drive to the podium! Commiserations to Rob who had it in the bag earlier and the unfortunate collision victims here.