Hard-earned podium from Spa

26.09.2016

Kevin took the best out of the opportunities presented him at Spa, bringing car #3 to the line as fourth in endurance race and third in PRO sprint.

Spa 2nd lap
Penultimate fifth round of Renault Sports Trophy at Spa was a big concern for Kevin. Long straights and sweeping turns require good top speed but Kevin’s car has recently lacked exactly that. Fortunately this time speed was OK, technical glitches did not intervene and Kevin with his new team-made even enjoyed some good luck during the races. And then Kevin performed an overtaking manoeuvre of the weekend, getting the better of former Grand Prix winner Robert Kubica. All in all a good weekend. But the problem is that PRO classification leader Pieter Schothorst was much faster and won again, increasing hislead to 30 points with 50 still available during the final round at Estoril.

How would you sum up the weekend at Spa?

We took maximum of the available. Verschuur and Marc VDS are so much quicker than everybody else and „best of the rest“ is thus third. Third was possible on Sunday and third was what I achieved then. My start from P7 was super and car remained intact even though I got a big blow in turn 1. And this overtaking... I was pretty far behind when I overtook Kubica. I knew I will have maybe one opportunity during the whole race and this actually was not very much an opportunity, but I had to capitalize on it.

Obviously Kubica did not expect the attack?

He certainly did not. I was keeping the main racing line all the way down to the corner and the gap to him was some four or five car-lengths. Then I simply braked extremely late and he was not ready for that.

TV let people think that you traded the paint in the process?

I did not feel that. Maybe we brushed each other lightly but I did not feel it directly. Spa podium

But going back to Saturday – you spent pretty much all of your stint in endurance race in Kubica’s slipstream.

Yes, our Saturday set-up was much worse than on Sunday. My pace dropped by about three seconds per lap towards the finish, car was understeering so terribly. I had to switch to second gear in turns where I usually go through in 4th gear – otherwise the thing just did not turn in.

You were also very lucky with penalties and safety car.

Yes, many people were penalized and safety car stayed out for 25 minutes which undoubtedly helped us. My team-mate Philippe Haezebrouck is a 61-year-old guy and he is obviously not the fastest driver in the field. We benefitted enormously from the lengthy safety car period which wiped away our disadvantages. It is really pity the set-up went so wrong, we could have easily been on the podium in the endurance race.

The gap to the third-placed car was just 2.5 seconds at the line. Did you have any sniff about overtaking Kubica?

Two-and-a-half second gap was absolutely fabulous result if you think how much time we could have lost under normal circumstances. But there was no chance to fight Kubica. Even when I managed to get closer to him I had to brake almost to standstill just in order to make the car pointing in the right direction.

Tell a little about qualification, P7 was certainly not a satisfying result.

I can’t say what exactly went wrong. I certainly put together better lap than I have done in other cars to win in qualifications. I even guess it was one of the best qualification laps in my whole life. Car balance was simply horrible and on new tires we are always relatively weak. I was eight tenths behind the winner but faster than my team-mate by the same amount. So you can see it was a really good lap, there was no way to make anything better.

After overtaking Kubica in the sprint race you first managed to build up a solid gap to him but after a few laps he started to close in again.

On Sunday the front end grip was so-so during the first two laps but with every next lap it got worse and worse. Thus I was faster in the beginning but significantly slower in the closing stages.

Gap was only four tenths with one lap to go. Did he threaten you seriously?

No, I saw he was close at the end of the back straight but it was not close enough to attempt an overtaking manouvre.

He also had Markkus Palttala in his wake.

Yes, but Kubica as a guest driver was not eligible for points. Palttala is so experienced driver, so I don’t believe he would have made some silly move, risking a solid points score.

Straight-line speed have been a serious concern for you recently. How was it at Spa?

I think it was rather good, maybe not 100 per cent but certainly better than during previous meetings.

Talking about points standing...

Yeah, I am P2 in PRO classification more or less together with Palttala in P3 while Schothorst has 30 points more. Currently the speed difference is insane for some reasons. Schothorst is a second per lap faster than me every time which makes it very difficult to respond. They have found some trick or something, they are so incredibly fast. And Marc VDS is pretty good as well.

Thanks, Kevin, have a good luck! Kevin@Spa

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

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