Weekend of “buts” and “ifs”

01.10.2012

Kevin was a star of the race on Sunday taking P8 from 26th and last on the grid

Penultimate World Series by Renault weekend at Paul Ricard was the second one where Kevin drove a black-and-golden Lotus car. And boy, did he drive it in style! If only had the machinery joined in. Ninth place from Saturday and one rank better from Sunday didn’t reflect Kevin’s current form. He looked very good in race 1 and was absolute hero of race 2 climbing from 26th grid position to eighth. Here’s how it happened.

First practice went well (easy P7) but then the first problem occurred when throttle jammed open during second session after only a handful of laps. This meant Kevin had to park the car and track-time on dry asphalt was cut short. Fortunately there was very few dry running later on.

Saturday qualification was held in wet conditions and was not great by any means: 15th grid position, 1.4 seconds behind the poleman. But come the race, Kevin showed his real speed and made it into points. P9 was quite good considering the grid position but on the other hand only 1.7 seconds separated him from P7. Kevin was seemingly faster than drivers in front but couldn’t realize his speed due to the bad visibility.

By Sunday qualification – which was the only dry competitive session during the weekend – Kevin’s good form had turned into an excellent one. He posted one very good lap, then went “pink” in first two sectors but unexpectedly entered the pits at the end of which seemed to be a certain pole lap at the moment. Engine had started to misfire and Kevin abandoned his lap to let mechanics work on the problem.

After almost ten minutes he went out again on fresh set of tires, unfortunately the mysterious engine problem was still there. Even so Kevin managed to put together a lap which was good for P14. But then the engine cried enough and car grounded to halt on the track. Session was stopped and according to the regulations Kevin’s best time was deleted for causing the red flag. This meant last place on the grid.

By the time of race rain had started again and thus P26 on the grid didn’t seem so hopeless. The main question was if team had succeeded in eliminating the engine gremlins. It had! Car was immaculate and Kevin put in a great show. One flier followed another and strategy also worked well. During first stint Kevin worked himself up to P4, then fell to P9 after extremely late pit-stop. Cars in front of him seemed to be too far to be caught but hopes were resurrected when Kevin started to lap more than two seconds faster. Eventually, on the very final lap he managed to overtake erstwhile championship leader Robin Frijns. Doing so he managed to advance 18 places on his way from 26th to 8th.

Kevin Korjus: “Saturday qualification could have been better – brakes were making some trouble and I was not at my best either. Race was rather good. I caught Frijns and Müller towards the end but couldn’t overtake despite being clearly faster. Rain was so bad I simply didn’t see anything behind them.

Sunday qualification began well but then engine started to cut off. I abandoned my fast lap and returned to the pits – maybe team can rectify the fault. Second time out the warm-up lap was OK but misfire reappeared in the end of first hot lap. This time I didn’t enter the pits but then the engine shut off completely. It was really pity, car felt so good I could have been very near to the top.

Race itself was mega. I got a great take-off and passed one or two cars before turn 1. Then somebody spun, everybody slowed down to avoid the incident and anti-stall device on my car kicked in for some reason. First I didn’t realize what was going on, tried to pull the clutch several times but nothing happened. I shifted down – still nothing happened. Only second downshift switched anti-stall off but by this time I was 25th, nearly three seconds behind the 24th.

Then I did lots of overtaking and was basically the fastest driver on the track during the second half of the race. Laptimes went down as the tarmac dried and I could certainly had done the fastest lap of the race if only had I had a free track on two final laps.

Mood is clearly positive after the weekend but in the same time it is sad we can’t have any days without problems.”

Kevin still holds P10 in championship classification after 15 races out of 17. The final racing weekend of 2012 World Series will be held in Barcelona on October 20-21.


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