The Paul Ricard high tech test track hosted round 11 and 12 of the 2011 EuroCup series under the World Series by Renault last weekend (September17-18, 2011). It is owned by Formula One promoter Bernie Ecclestone and is characterised by its long Mistral straight (1.8km) and elongated track design. The track is also unusual in that it is built on a plateau, and very flat. The length of the full track is around 5.8km. The track offers today 167 possible configurations and because of this many Formula One teams use this track for testing.
With a clear blue sky and temperatures well over 30 degrees Celsius the atmosphere at this very modern circuit is magical. Sandy Stuvik, the 16 year old Thai racer started out on Friday’s practice running very well, only 1.7 second seconds behind the fastest cars. For the second practice the team tested a new setting for Sandy, but he struggled with the new setting and saw his times drop.
Sandy Stuvik races during round 11 of the 2011 EuroCup series at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, Saturday, Sept. 17.
For Saturday morning qualification, the team again tried a new setting similar to his team mate, but again Sandy struggled to find confidence in the car and found himself qualified in 31st place, 2.6 seconds behind the pole sitter Poul Loup Chatin. The team again rallied and reverted the car back to Sandy’s base setting in time for the afternoon race.
The 35 car group all got off to a good start, Sandy was initially slow of the grid, but shot up past 9 cars on the opening lap alone. Then he started settling in and getting used to the new car set up, clearly he was much more comfortable with this set up and was now running only 1 second down on his team mate, the closest he had been all weekend long. Sandy pushed a little too hard in turn 10 however and lost a couple of places and in the end took the checkered flag in 23rd position.
The qualifying round for the 12th race on Sunday was run at a wet and cold Paul Ricard circuit, in stark contrast to the warm and wonderful weather the previous day. Sandy was not overly happy with his pace, but managed to improve on Saturday’s qualifying with a 27th place.
Into the afternoon the rain abated, but the track was overcast and quite windy by the time the 12th race of the season got underway. This time Sandy had a good start and started overtaking cars in usual style. By the end of the first lap he had moved up 3 places and continued chasing down cars in front of him.
Coming into the last corner on lap 2 Sandy found himself in the middle of a 3 car sandwich and the inside car hooked his front wheel under Sandy’s rear and Sandy got thrown up in the air and spectacularly rolled the car over until it again landed back on its wheels. The rear wing and several wheels were damaged and Sandy got a ride back to the circuit’s medical center, before being given an all clear by the doctor.
The young Thai driver entered the championship as one the youngest and least experienced drivers and continues to learn and improve himself in preparation for next season, where certainly he will carry far more experience and be prepared to take on the competition in this very tough championship.
The final race in the 2011 EuroCup series will be at the Catalunya Circuit in Barcelona Spain in 2 weeks time, from 7-9 October 2011.