The second round of the Northern European Cup, Formula Renault 2.0 season saw the weekend’s races provide a prelude to the world famous Nürburgring 24 Hour VLN Endurance race.
17-year old driver Sandy Stuvik arrived from Thailand three days in advance to clear his jet lag and be at his peak for the second race weekend of the 2012 season. Following hard physical and mental training in Rayong over the last several months, it was a primed and ready young racer who arrived at the Nürburgring.
Sandy Stuvik lines up on the grid at the Nürburgring in Germany, Friday, June 22.
Despite the unseasonably cold weather and rain, which saw temperatures dip below 10 degrees Celsius, the Thai driver showed right away that he meant business as he finished the first qualification in a respectable P11 in the 36-car strong Formula Renault group.
For the second qualification he gambled on setting an early fast lap and indeed ran as P1 for the first part, hoping the rain would break out but in the end he drifted down to P11 again with a time of 1:27:630, only 0.8 seconds behind the P1 time and amazingly only 0.2 seconds behind P2 in this extremely competitive junior formula grid.
For the first of the two races Sandy plotted his race start strategy with his mentor, former Red Bull F1 test driver Neel Jani, and true to plan, the Thai driver did the tricky Nürburgring first corner on the outside and gained 2 places at the start. Up from 11th to 9th, he pushed on, but midway through the race went wide in front of the Mercedes Grandstand and quickly lost the 2 positions he had gained earlier. Stuvik brilliantly fought off the championship leader Jake Dennis towards the end of the race to eventually take the checkered flag in a strong 11th place.
The second race started Saturday morning on a nice and sunny Nürburgring track and in front of an ever growing group of spectators. Sandy had a poor start and immediately lost three positions, but after only the first 4 corners he had overtaken the three cars and was back in P11. Then, as the Spanish driver Alex Riberas was struggling on the second lap, Sandy slipstreamed him down the start straight and went past him breaking into the first turn – only to find a car spun on the exit of the corner. As he tried to avoid cars dodging right and left Sandy made contact with UAE driver Ed Jones and both cars sustained terminal damage and had to retire from the race.
Sandy was frustrated as he felt he had a strong car and would have been able to push well into the top 10 group again. However, the young Thai driver will carry his resurgent form with him to the next race in only two weeks, this time at Oschersleben, a circuit where he was one of the fastest cars in the official preseason testing.
Sandy Stuvik races for the Royal Automobile Association of Thailand and is sponsored by The Pizza Company, Singha Corporation, Dacon Inspection Services and Sports Authority of Thailand.