Finally on the podium!

16.07.2012

Kevin took 5th and 3rd at the brand new Moscow Raceway and went to the summer break on the positive note.

Kevin on podium Moscow

Kevin did very well at the first major international motor race meeting in Russia when brand-new Moscow Raceway hosted World Series by Renault event this weekend. Fifth on Saturday and third on Sunday was by far Kevin’s best race meeting this year. But it wasn’t that straightforward as technical glitches cut in once again. On the other hand Kevin was extremely fortunate not to be involved in numerous on-track tangles. Though, as old Estonian proverb says “Caution is the mother of wisdom” and Kevin had to be really wise to make the most out of the conditions.

Free practices were troublesome once more – cracked exhaust accompanied traditional engine and gearbox woes during the first session. On Friday night team decided to change the engine and gearbox but the process was very much complicated by total blackout at the track.

Saturday qualifying wasn’t greatest, but Kevin put his 9th place on the grid to good use. He passed two cars at the start and then overtook Antonio Felix da Costa with a spectacular switchback move onto the main straight. Late safety car then brought the field together and when Marco Sørensen went wide at the final turn Kevin was close enough to pick up fifth spot at the flag. His fastest lap was fourth best which meant the car was in much better shape than during previous rounds.

Kevin bettered his grid position to 8th on Sunday but race itself turned out to be extremely difficult. After decent start he had to cut turn one over the kerb and grass to avoid contact with Nico Muller. Three separate clashes during the opening lap brought out safety car and when dust settled, Kevin had inherited P3. He lost several positions with early pitstop and although the pace was not great he was still able to pass Andre Negrão for eventual third. Slight mistake entering the long backstretch allowed Negrão to close up again and Kevin had to defend his position vigorously. Thereafter it was more or less plain sailing towards the first podium place of the year, at least from the outside.

Kevin: „First of all I’d like to say a great thank you to the Tech1 team for changing the engine and gearbox on Friday night. They completed it only at 4 AM but it made the success possible.

Car felt rather good on Saturday although the gearbox was not 100% OK. Air pressure dropped critically low during the safety car and tires lost the grip totally but I was still able to capitalise on Sørensen’s mistake at the final turn.

Sunday was much more difficult. I was forced over the kerb in Turn 1 which broke car’s floor and filled radiators with grass. It cost me a significant amount of top speed – usually I hit limiter at the end on straight but this time only two lights came on on rev counter. Some bolt worked loose in the cockpit and I was really worried if it lands under the brake pedal.

Early pit-stop was maybe not ideal but we tried to cover possible second safety car with it. I lost some places with it and Alexander Rossi was closing from behind but he was not fast enough to have a go. Then we caught Andre Negrão and fortunately I managed to overtake him at the first attempt. After that it became a little bit easier despite my poor straight-line speed, overheating engine and alarm coming on in the cockpit all the time.

Moscow Raceway itself is rather interesting, a nice little technical track. It has no really fast turns and only one good overtaking spot, but the twisty part was what I liked. And it wasn’t as slippery as you would expect at a brand-new venue.“

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WSR now begins its annual six-week summer break. Next two rounds will take place at Silverstone on August 25-26. First time WSR will be a part of new-for-2012 FIA World Endurance Championship meeting.

Kevin’s best weekend this year elevated him to 9th in championship standings. It was not a big leap position-wise but many frontrunners hit trouble in Moscow and thus Kevin was able to close the cap significantly. First podium of the year just before the summer break was a good omen and gave a positive boost to everybody.

Race 1 finish Moscow

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