Macau, the city of fortune

27.11.2012

F3 Grand Prix in South-East Asian metropolis was not a succes for Kevin but still he wants to go back

Kevin’s racing season is now over for 2012 and he is back to school trying to complete his high-school studies. But before Kevin got back to his desk he had to pass perhaps the toughest test for drivers in junior formulae – Macau F3 Grand Prix. This is how he described what happened on the notorious street course in South-East Asian metropolis.

„Track itself was an eye-opener. I had “driven” it for half a day in simulator and then watched onboard videos for several hours. It seemed more or less OK in the simulator but onboard was different – barriers came very close. And when I went out to the real track first time, it was even narrower and made me almost shudder.

Before the first practice I was told not to push because on the second day track will be much faster. Unfortunately I went off on my third lap and missed the majority of the session. Then I took it easy during the first qualification just trying to post a reasonable time – P20.

Second free practice on Friday was sort of miracle. I had the most worn tires, I couldn’t use slipstream no one time and still my fastest lap was fourth best. We had made some adjustments overnight based on my Thursday’s experience, it certaily helped. Everything seemed fine.

But then the second qualification went totally wrong. Cars were waiting in line and I was the last one to get out of the pits. First car was already about 1.5 minutes or about four kms in front of me! My first flying lap was reasonably fast but then somebody crashed in the mountain section and yellow flags came out. Lap spoilt. Second flyer –yellows in turn 1. And so it went on with yellow and red flags destroying all my attempts. Eventually my best time was a second slower than on Thursday which meant 21st on the grid for qualifying race.

Then disaster – I stalled my car on Saturday's qualification race  going to the dummy grid. I simply had no experience with F3’s handbrake and the outcome was a start from pit-lane. In fact I lost about 15 seconds on lap 1 and was dead last. There are usually several collisons on the opening lap, so I waited for yellow flags to appear at any second but unbelievably no single crash occurred during first two laps. Little-by-little I caught slower drivers and overtook about seven of them, one went into the wall. It was incredble race by Macau standards with only four retirements. Even they gave me minimum help because two crashes happened behind me with drivers I had already overtaken. So P21 at the flag.

The main race start was a mess again and I lost several places. Then SC came out on lap 4, I was still only 19th with three drivers already retired. Then it started to come together bit by bit – we had 11 free laps and I managed to overtake 8 or 9 cars during them, which is not bad at all. It felt very strange because basically you can overtake only on the waterfront straights. You overtake one guy, then sit two minutes in next guy’s slipstream until you arrive to straight again and try to overtake him. And then the cycle reiterates itself.

I had the highest top speed of all cars partly because I usually passed the speed trap in another car’s slipstream. But thanks to those endless overtakings I had only one opportunity to drive third sector on my own – on the very last lap. Even so it was seventh-best time which shows there was lot of untapped speed. It could have been a normal race but for that botched qualification. P13 clearly was not my maximum.

Anyway, Macau was a very different place and I quite liked it. Leaving the city I felt I want to come back. As my countryman, Macau veteran Marko Asmer put it: “Macau is like a disease, once you’ve got the bug, you have to go back!”

So that was it. Season is over, I am back at school with a huge amount of material to go through. I want to thank my manager Raivo Tamm and Gravity Mangement for support. 2012 was obviously not the greatest year for me but hopefully I can strike back next year.”

 

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