Stuvik makes European racing debut at Hockenheim

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Young local racer Sandy Stuvik had his first taste of racing in Europe on April 8-10 when he competed in the Northern European Cup at the famous Hockenheim F1 circuit in Germany.  The 15 year old used the race as preparation for the Formula Renault Euro Cup season which starts this coming weekend in Spain.

Stuvik saw the Hockenheim track for the first time during Friday’s first morning practice session but he could only put in a handful of laps and ended up 24th out of the 28 cars.  For the second practice an issue with the car kept him in the pit half way through the session before he could get out, but during the 3 timed laps he managed he was now 14th fastest.

Sandy Stuvik leads the field of cars during qualifying on Saturday, April 9, at the Hockenheim race circuit in Germany. Sandy Stuvik leads the field of cars during qualifying on Saturday, April 9, at the Hockenheim race circuit in Germany.

During the first qualifying session Sandy had a bit too much over steer in the car, and struggled a bit with the lap time, and as a result he was a bit slower than in his second free practice and qualified 17th for the first race.  For Qualifying 2, the set-up of the car had been changed and the car was now much better and on his third lap out he set his fastest time so far (1:39:550), and kept improving while testing the limits only to find them in turn 8 as he flew off the track and into the gravel trap.

The team’s expectations and hopes for Sandy’s first racing venture in Europe was to qualify in the top 15 and to finish the races in the top half of the 28 drivers.  The team and Sandy were therefore happy with the results, but the young driver felt there was much more left and that he would be able to do better during the races.

Local racing prodigy Sandy Stuvik. Local racing prodigy Sandy Stuvik.

In Race 1 Stuvik had quite a good start from P17 on the grid and got past one car on the first lap and started charging his way up the field, feeling the car’s set up was very good.  However on lap 2 he tried overtaking another car in Turn 6, in front of the Mercedes grandstand, but the other car closed in on him and broke his front wing.  From then on it became a fight for positions and an effort to try and lose as few places as possible for the rest of the race.

The race distance in these events does not allow enough time for pitting and changing the front wing like in F1 races, so Stuvik had to keep driving with the front wing almost broken off and pointing up-wards.  He managed to overcome the difficulties however and retained 16th place.

In Race 2 Sandy started from 13th place and again had a good start overtaking 2 cars on the first lap and charging after the lead group.  Lap 3 saw the Safety Car coming on track and after the release on lap 5, Sandy again got himself past one car and chased after the lead group.

Through the mid race he had closed up the gap to the lead group, but towards the end of the race his tires started going off, so he drove more conservatively to secure 9th place out of the 28 cars starting.  The young Thai driver was satisfied with his result and very happy with his team’s performance.

Stuvik started the third and final race from 16th place, as he finished his first race with the broken front wing in 16th place, but a slow start saw him dropping 3 positions before turn one.  Sandy quickly fought back and, by the end of the first lap he had regained those 3 lost positions from the start and another 2 places and was in 14th.  A lap later he was up to 12th and had the 8th fastest time and was pushing hard … and a bit too hard, and then he pushed too much through Turn 1, got a huge over steer and went backwards off on the inside of the curve.

With the tires just a foot or two inside the gravel, the marshals refused to push him back out and instead he was hoisted off the track. …and the race was over.

Despite missing out on the podium last weekend, Sandy will have gathered much experience from his debut race outing at Hockenheim and will now focus on the first real race of the Euro Cup at Motorland in Spain this coming Sunday.