Double pole and victory for Stuvik in Portugal

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The Euro Formula Open round at the Portimao Circuit in Portugal on the 7-8 June started well for Thailand’s Sandy Stuvik as he set the fastest times in Friday’s free practice sessions. Although very bumpy, the modern circuit in Portugal’s Algarve region saw dry and mostly sunny conditions, as the 20 Formula 3 drivers prepared for the second round of the championship. 

During Saturday’s qualifying, Thai teenager Stuvik waited until the middle of the session before going out on track and he immediately set the fastest time of 1:42:624, almost four tenths of a second quicker than his teammate Artur Janosz in second place and the fastest time set by an F3 car on the newly reconfigured circuit.  With a front row lockout for the Italian RP Motorsport squad it looked set for a good day.

Thailand’s Sandy Stuvik (centre) celebrates on the podium after winning Race 2 of the Euro Formula Open round at the Portimao Circuit in Portugal, Sunday, June 8.Thailand’s Sandy Stuvik (centre) celebrates on the podium after winning Race 2 of the Euro Formula Open round at the Portimao Circuit in Portugal, Sunday, June 8.

In the afternoon’s race, the two RP Motorsport cars immediately pulled away at the start, with the Thai driver being a little bit faster.  Then on lap 6 of the 19 lap race, an accident in the middle of the pack saw the safety car deployed and immediately Stuvik’s gear box jammed with a broken gear pin in 6th gear.  The team had no option but to call him in to the pit lane to try a fast repair.  Frenzied efforts by the 6 mechanics followed and in just over a minute the car was repaired and Stuvik accelerated back onto the track to try and catch up with the cars in front.  However, there were not enough time to catch them before the safety car release and Stuvik passed the line 22 seconds behind the last car.

Some blinding pace by the Thai driver though saw him set the fastest lap of the race and he started catching the lead group at the rate of 4 seconds a lap.  6 laps later he overtook the first car, but was then hit with a drive through penalty for exceeding track limits under the safety car.  Stuvik concluded the race in 12th position, last of the surviving cars.

Sunday morning saw a clear blue sky and beautiful weather back at the Portimao Circuit and yet again Stuvik proved to be the fastest in qualifying, taking his second Pole position for the weekend with a time of 1:43:240.

Stuvik leads the grid through the first corner on his way to victory.Stuvik leads the grid through the first corner on his way to victory.

The second race started at midday Sunday and after a chaotic start, it was again Stuvik and Janosz who took the lead.  The two teammates provided an exciting race with constant battling for first place and both setting fastest laps of the race several times.  In the end Thailand’s Stuvik took the victory, 1.091 seconds ahead of the Polish driver.

Stuvik said afterwards: “I was so happy to get this win after yesterday’s (Saturday’s) mechanical issues and again to hear the Thai National Anthem played here in Europe was very emotional for me.  In the race, Artur pushed me all the way and I had to drive as hard as I could to keep him behind me.  We did though give one another space and I really enjoyed the hard racing.”

The next race of the championship comes at Spain’s Jerez Circuit in one week’s time on June 21-22.  Stuvik will leave Portugal with 72 points, only 1 point behind his teammate’s 73 point championship lead.