2019 - ETS ROUND 3
APR 04-07 MADRID, SPAIN
After a long winter of indoor racing in Europe, the third round of the ETS marked the start of the outdoor season and the destination was 'Sunny Spain' - Madrid to be more specific. An opportunity to air the shorts and supplement the body's Vitamin D levels while enjoying fluff free laps back on asphalt again - well maybe not. Unfortunately the weekend's weather couldn't have been any more polar to what was expected with winter coats and multiple layers of t-shirts underneath required for survival. Thursday, while cold, would at least be dry but Friday was to turn out to be a complete wash out with rain meaning no running at all. Instead it was a day for detailed car rebuilds, plenty of coffee breaks and numerous checks of various mobile phones to see if Saturday would present any opportunity to drive a dry track. Thankfully racers woke up to a dry but bitterly cold morning allowing for a round of practice in qualifying order, which had been arranged off Thursday’s free practice times. It wasn’t to last however and just a few heats into the first round of qualifying the first of a number of rain stops over the day happened.
With qualifying reduced to two rounds so, weather permitting, all drivers would still get to race triple finals, it was just one to count. Despite suffering a spin in the low grip and windy conditions, it was a good start for Marc on the large Asoger RC track as he posted the second fastest time in Q1. On only his second ETS outing with the team, Viktor put down the fifth quickest time just ahead of Akio with Yannic’s P8 making it four IF14s in the Top 10. Unfortunately Jilles’ return to ETS action didn’t get off to a good start as he had a problem just before his first heat which ruled him out of Q1 before his car even touched the track. With conditions improving considerably for Q2, the much faster track meant this would be a decisive round. Setting the fastest lap, Marc again was the second fastest time as Freddy Sudhoff took the round and the overall TQ. With Ronald Volker fastest in Q1, this meant Marc would be lining up third on the A-Main grid. Fourth fastest on his second attempt, that was where Viktor would line up. Also improving their placing in Q2, Akio and Yannic were going to carry the No.6 and No.8 in the finals. Unfortunately Jilles’ luck was similar to that being had by the organisers with the weather and a Q2 DNF meant he was going to start out Sunday in the D-Main.
In Formula, having set the bench mark over Thursday’s seven rounds of free practice, Jitse was the top seed for qualifying after the rain resulted in controlled practice being cancelled. While Q1 netted a P4, in the second qualifier Jitse put together a TQ run but a late shower in the day meant that the time was not quicker than Q1 and he was going to start from second.
While Sunday’s skies were much clearer with the ‘Sunny’ making a welcomed appearance in Spain, it was still very cold as highlighted by the continued requirement for multiple layers of clothing. Making a great start, Marc quickly passed Volker around the outside for second and was chasing down Sudhoff. Suddenly half way into the race as he came to the loop Marc’s car did an unexplainable 360 costing Marc time before a second spin at the end of the straight dropped him to fourth and eventually last. Afterwards it was diagnosed as a tyre problem - a frustrating outcome given his pace. In the end Akio was our leading finisher in fourth followed by Viktor and Yannic. Knowing the speed was there to challenge for the win having set the fastest lap of A1 and with new tyres on Marc went into A2 in confident mood. It wasn’t to be his day however. Having to check-up to avoid contact with Volker, unfortunately Viktor, who was following behind, didn’t have time to react and made contact with Marc who came off worst. Only slightly delayed, Viktor would finish third with Akio in tow. P6 for Marc meant any chance of an overall podium was gone but now Viktor was in the hunt and P3 again in A3, this time behind Marc, would secure him his first podium with the IF14 and first ETS podium finish in quite some time. For Marc, the weekend which had showed promise in qualifying, ended with a 4th place. It would be a 6th for Akio and 8th for Yannic who had a DNF in A3.
While a Modified Touring Car podium at an ETS is a result to be celebrated, in Madrid the weekend belonged to Jitse and our IF11. A member of the team since before we even had our own Formula chassis and steering the development of our first Formula offering, it was only fitting that he claimed its maiden ETS victory. Starting behind the master of the Formula class Jan Ratheisky, in A1 Jitse took the lead at the first corner from where he pulled clear for a winning margin over 6-seconds. In the second A-Main, Jitse again attacked from the start and on lap-3 made a pass for the lead in a drag down the front straight but this time he had to work a lot harder to keep out front and it was only on the last lap when Ratheisky made a mistake that Jitse could resume normal breathing and cross the finish line and make a ‘dream come true’. All his hard work had finally to come to fruition and it was a very popular win.
A challenging weekend as mother nature introduced a new element to racing - trying to stay warm everyone to be able to drive - everyone is hoping next month’s first time ETS visit to Wiener Neudorf, Austria, will be drier and less chilly affair.