The first official test session for the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup was held at Germany’s Oschersleben Circuit just outside Magdeburg last month. Sandy Stuvik arrived as the fastest driver from the previous test in Spain, to race at Oschersleben for the first time and immediately took the lead in the morning testing session.
The 16 year old Thai driver led the morning session until the last half hour when most drivers went out on new tires to set quick times. Unfortunately for the Thai driver, his lap 3 and fast lap saw another car spinning off the track and the session was red flagged. Still, Stuvik’s outlap time of 1:26:580 was fast enough to secure him the second fastest overall time for the day.
Following Interwetten. com’s team strategy, Stuvik opted to save his new tire allotment for the second day of testing, hoping to make an impact for the overall fastest time at Oschersleben. The team was well satisfied with the Thai driver setting the 2nd fastest time of the day and were optimistically looking forward to the season start in April.
After the first day of testing Sandy commented; “I really like the Oschersleben Circuit and feel it fits my driving style and the Interwetten .com team gave me a car set-up that allowed me to really push. I am confident I can improve further though and will go over my driving data tonight to look for improvements for tomorrow.”
Sandy was constantly amongst the fastest during the first day of testing and on the second day he set the overall fastest time of 1:26:077 early in the morning and remained on the P1 spot for the entire morning session. In the afternoon the Thai driver had 1 new set of tires left, but was again unlucky and saw the track closed with a red flag, just as he started his first flying laps on the new tires. With more than 20 cars on track, this is something that happens and as the tires are only at peak performance during laps 3 to 5 the drivers need to have a little luck on their side to get clean runs.
The last 2 days of official testing before the start of the Formula Renault NEC season were held at Hockenheim Circuit in Germany. Sandy raced at the Hockenheim circuit one year ago and looked forward to 2 days of testing at the circuit, as it also will host the first round of the championship, in a month’s time.
Stuvik sets a fast time during testing at the Oschersleben Circuit in Germany.
Sandy was using the same car as he did during the previous days testing at Oschersleben and the first day was marred with car problems. First the injectors had to be changed, then well over half the day went by trying to find the reason the car could not reach top speed. The data clearly showed the car could not reach full RPM, but it took well into the afternoon to find that the catalysator had melted.
Finally in the last session the car was again up to speed and Sandy opted to put on one of the valuable new sets of tires (only 3 sets were allowed and it is typically 1.5 to 2 seconds faster than a used set). Sandy exited the pits together with an F312 and on the out lap the sight impaired F3 driver managed to take both cars out with a do or die maneuver. Sandy’s battery was depleted, so all he could do was to wait for the service car after the session had finished.
Day 2 of testing again started with problems, as when Sandy went out on the new tires, he straight away hit slow traffic and then another red flag, so the “new tire” advantage was again spoilt.
The track is approx. 1 second faster in the cold morning, than the warm afternoon, so with this a chance for a glory (fastest) lap was gone. Nonetheless, the team felt that Sandy had the potential for setting one of the fastest times.
In the 4th session in the afternoon, almost all drivers were on used tires and Sandy went second fastest.
Then in the final 5th session all drivers put on their last set of new tires and it was a shoot out. Sandy did manage to get the first 4 laps free from traffic and set a time of 1:38:986, which was the 5th fastest in the session and also overall 5th fastest for the day.
Considering where the young Thai driver’s car was on weight, on full race specification and with catalysator in the car, the team is carefully optimistic about being a strong contender when the season starts later this month.
Team Interwetten.com Junior Racing team did an outstanding job in solving technical problems that came up and kept the car and driver in the top group. At Hockenheim Sandy again had the opportunity to work closely with his driver coach, former F1 test driver Neel Jani, in perfecting his driving technique and car handling.
Next for Sandy will be another testing session at Slovakiaring and Red Bull Ring as a warm up for the 2012 season start at Hockenheim on 21 April, 2012.