Kevin: Holding the lead – it’s a good thing!

18.05.2016

Kevin emerged from Renault Sport Trophy second meeting as a leader in both endurance and PRO classifications


Second weekend of Renault Sport Trophy at Imola was not all plain sailing for Kevin. He was a points leader in PRO classification after first meeting, but had to contend with P5 in PRO qualification.

This time it was his co-driver Fredrik Blomstedt who started the endurance race. After strong showing he handed the car #3 over to Kevin in P2. Kevin enjoyed a good race and took the flag as a winner. This also meant that Blomstedt-Korjus jumped to the lead in endurance points standings.

At PRO sprint race start Kevin dropped to P8 but fought back in a spectacular way. Eventually he was classified third and kept the lead in PRO points standing as well. In short: Kevin is Renault Sports Trophy leader in both classifications.

Talk us through the weekend.

Qualification was not the strongest one, we were a little bit off the pace. I wasn’t driving in the best way and my team-mate Raul Owens was even behind me. But the gaps were extremely narrow in the qualification. I was just 0.25 seconds down the leader but only P5 on the grid. It was partly my own doing and maybe the set-up was not spot-on either.

Therefore I started from fifth position to the PRO sprint and then I performed an horrible start, completely missing the right moment. So I dropped to P8 in the beginning, then I managed to let some guys behind and was fourth at the flag.

Was your car hit when Markkus Palttala and Roy Geerts collided just in front of you? Impression from TV was that you were also involved.

I don’t know, maybe there was a slightest of touches. Geerts came straight over the field and hit Palttala, I went on the grass to avoid the havoc where those two retired but my team-mate Raoul Owens overtook me in the process. That meant I didn’t benefit too much from the situation.

During the endurance race there were several occasions when drivers spun trying to rejoin after going off.

Yeah, I also saw when Nick Leventis who is AM team-mate to Lewis Williamson spun like that. But the situation on Sunday was completely different – Geerts returned to the asphalt after off and tried not to leave the room for drivers who were already there, going straight across the track. It was obviously going to end with some sort of crash.

But then, towards the finish you went from P6 to P4 in one spectacular go. How did that happen?

Basically we entered turn 1 three-abreast and I was the inside one. Actually I was not completely able to catch them on the straight but under braking I closed in and went for the inside, so we turned in all three together. Owens obviously hit grass under braking, there was not too much space and he flew off.


You were running in a train for quite a while, did you attempt to overtake before that situation?

No, there were no opportunities. With this car somebody has to make mistake in front of you or you have to exit the turn extremely well, just to create an opportunity. Overtaking is rather difficult. I guess my manoeuvre could have been the only one during the sprint race.

Imola seems to have several suitable places, why overtakings are so rare there?

Actually, Imola is a difficult place in this sense, Motorland may even be easier.

Let’s talk a little bit about the endurance race on Saturday. When you were two seconds behind Markkus Palttala after the pit-stop, it seemed catching him should be easy but overtaking could be much more difficult. Still you managed to grab the lead relatively quickly.

Somehow Palttala lacked the pace completely on Saturday. I think I was about a second per lap faster than him. And yes, I caught him quiclky but still had to wait four or five laps to get by. One second per lap is a large gap, but I was looking for my opportunity for a long time compared to single-seaters – with one-second advantage you can overtake pretty easily there.

Life was easy after overtaking? Or did you keep your eye on what was happening behind you?

I tried to do some fast laps and then just managed the gap. Few tours before the flag I did one more fast lap, simply to have a better laptime in classification. Overtaking Palttala was the most important task, I saw Bruno Bonifacio was closing in and so I tried to overtook Palttala as soon as possible.

Oregon Team cars were notably fast at Imola, especially in qualification where they took 1-2-4. Does it have something to do with the characteristics of the track?

Indeed they were not in the picture at Motorland but then Motorland is really a very special place. Otherwise they have been always fast everywhere, I guess David Fumanelli took several pole-positions last year.

Just a few minutes later when Kevin was already on his way from Imola to Milan airport, Renault Sport website published the final results of PRO race. Little did Kevin knew that Lewis Williamson was disqualified from the race, he was promoted to third and also returned to the lead in PRO points standings.

Kevin, it turns out that you have got third place in PRO sprint and lead in PRO overall classification. Williamson was excluded.

Somebody just texted me that I should be third but that's it. Team has not yet informed me, so I don’t know exactly. What was the reason for the exclusion?

He got less than three litres gas left in the tank.

Ouch! Bloody stupid thing to be excluded!

It also means you are holding PRO classification lead again.

But that’s a good thing, isn’t it!

Inside

Youngest driver to win a race in Formula Renault 3.5 Series.

Read more...