It was time for the Pre-Euros to take place at the Ongaroring track n Sacile, Italy. Having only seen a few videos of the track before, it looked like a old school European track. High speed, fast sweeping corners but not many jumps. It is not really my favorite style of track but I will do everything to get my third EC title in a row later in July!
Before leaving home, the weather forecast didn’t look the best as it showed rain on Saturday and Sunday. However this wasn’t going to be the case and a light shower on Saturday evening didn’t really do anything to the track.
With not so many drivers we were promised 9 practice rounds before going in to qualifying. I started out with a setup I tested at a Swedish track the week before just to start somewhere. The first 3-4 round I didn’t do much to the car but instead focused on learning the track, which was more difficult than normal. It was hard to judge where you car was on the back part of the track as the barriers were pretty high, on a few spots that was critical they actually made it a bit lower so it became easier to see your car.
After the first day of practice I found my way around the track pretty well and made a few small tweaks to the car. It became better and better each run. On Saturday we were going to get the last four rounds of practice followed by the first two rounds of qualifying. I kept making small changes all the time and improved the car a lot towards the end of practice, I seeded 3rd on your best three consecutive laps and my pace was right there with the young Italian guys, with Davide Ongaro up front having the track basically on his backyard.
The key around this track coming to qualifying and finals would be the consistency and I felt like my car was very easy to drive but still fast. The track got really rough when qualifying started and the conditions were pretty close to what we had at the Worlds last year in Sicily, but here it was bumpy. I was able to take the TQ in the first round, 5 seconds clear of the group of drivers behind me. No mistakes paid off.
In Q2 I started out even better than in the first round but two very rough laps in a row ended my chances on the TQ in the second round. I would have to wait over the night to try again on Sunday morning.
Sunday saw the last two rounds of qualifying as well as the mains in the afternoon. The track got a light shower over the night but you could almost not tell when we came to the track in the morning. In Q3 it was a close one between Ongaro, Zanchettin and myself. We would finish in the same order and I got 3rd for the round. With Ongaro taking the TQ in Q3 the last round would be the deciding on as we had three different TQ guys so far, me, Ongaro and Zanchettin. In the last one I made one or two small mistakes and couldn’t challenge Ongaro who took his second TQ and became the overall TQ. I finished 3rd overall and would start right behind him in the Semi final.
In the semi practice I tested tires for the 1 hour main so I knew what to go with if I could get there. The car felt great and I got ready for the semi. It got underway and I followed Ongaro for a few laps while having Battle close behind me as well. Us three opened up a bit of a gap down to the others and put ourselves in great positions. The order was the same after 15 minutes even if Robert and I swapped places back and forth a couple of times. I felt really comfortable with how everything was working. I made a mistake in the back left side of the track and when the marshal flipped my car over it was dead.. Very disappointing when being so close to the finish of the semi, especially when sitting in a safe transfer spot up to the A-main. There was not enough time to recover as it died right before the loop and I lost a whole lap and finished in 9th.
We don’t really know the reason why it flamed but my guess would be that the idle was little too low. However it was an exciting main to watch and directly after the price ceremony I drove a 60-min long practice run to get the feeling of a long A-main.
We continued with practice the day after the race and I made some more setup tests and also one new 60-min final drive to test the full package.
Now it´s just to prepare the next visit down in north of Italy when the 2015 years European Championship starts.
Pictures is from Ongarorings FB page