The first race weekend of the 2012 Formula Renault Northern European Cup kicked off at the 4.5km long Hockenheim Circuit in Germany on April 21. Thai racer Sandy Stuvik had shown very good pace during the Friday official test session with a 7th and a 14th place of the 39 cars competing in this event.
When considering the large group of cars, this likely makes the series the largest, and one of the most competitive Formula race series in the world. Amongst the 39 young racers, virtually every continent is represented.
Sandy Stuvik poses for a photo in the pit lane at the Hockenheim Circuit in Germany.
Stuvik, who just turned 17 years old the week before the race, had set himself a goal of competing in the top 10 group this season and seemed to be well on track for this goal. Then came a double qualifying session on Friday afternoon, and April rain, and even hail came down just as the cars excited for the qualifying run. After a difficult first session, the young racer was one of the first drivers to finish the session, with everyone just setting faster and faster times on the drying track and in the end he slid all the way down to 22nd.
In the second qualifying, for the second race, he managed to qualify for 13th place, but was disappointed with having had to overtake slower cars on both his fast laps.
Stuvik drives his car to 10th position in the opening race of the season.
Then came Saturday and the first race start of the season starting at noon. The Thai driver had a very good start from 22nd place and was up to 18th after the first lap, only to get pushed wide in the Hockenheim hairpin and lose several positions. Sandy continued fighting back and was soon up to 14th, when a 3 car pile-up saw the Safety Car deployed in the middle of the race. The restart opened up opportunities for the Thai racer and in the remaining few laps he managed to climb further up to 10th place by the checkered flag. He then secured 11 points for the 2012 Championship.
The second race of the weekend started late Sunday morning, in cold but sunny weather. Stuvik had qualified to 13th start position and quickly made up several places in the first corner, only to lose them again at the Hockenheim hairpin corner. The Thai driver is racing for championship position and did not want to take any foolish chances on the opening lap.
By the end of the first lap he had regained the two positions he lost in the hairpin and on the next 2 laps he gained one position each lap to start the 4th lap in 11th. He was then in the lead group of cars and on lap 8 overtook another car for 10th position – the young Thai driver proving that he could race with Europe’s best young racers and hold his ground.
On lap 13 the 25 minute race saw the checkered flag, with Sandy securing another 10th place, the second in two races and another 11 points added to the tally.
Two hours later the 3rd and final race of the weekend got under way, with grey and heavy clouds looming over the circuit. Again Sandy enjoyed a good start from 10th on the grid and went up to 8th and then on the 3rd lap up to 7th. He was clearly faster than the cars ahead, when suddenly the car lost all power and the Thai driver had to pull the car off track in the famous Sachs curve.
Just as his car came to a standstill on the side of the track, heavy rain opened up. Sandy was distraught not to have been able to continue fighting in the wet. Later, the main electrical engine connector was found to have come loose and robbed the Thai driver of most likely a very good placing. Stuvik had though set a faster lap time in the race then the race winner, a clear statement to the fact that the young Thai racer is improving in strides.
Sandy Stuvik currently is in 10th place in the 2012 Formula Renault Championship standings and is eagerly looking forward to the next race at Nürburgring in June.