My first win in a world championship.
Heehee yes I begin by myself, but it's unbelievable how I feel good actually.
Some stuff I remember : The team has always been here to work with Christian and me, also all the people that spend much time for our enjoy on track.
And now I win. Haha ! Very cool. I will tell you how my win happened :
I arrived in the
session to get some points, and to see how we are performing compared to the
other teams and drivers. Of course my main goal was to finnish the race. I was
almost sure that if I finnished the race I could have scored some points. The
first GP is often the most unknown one. First because we aren't used anymore
with race pressure and because we don't know absolutly the other drivers, what
they are used to do about behaviour on track, about strategy etc... I was happy
to see again Joshua Lyon, Dominik Binz, Michael Koel, or Gareth Clayton. I met
Roy Kolbe for the first time (or almost), he is very nice. In the practice
session, Gareth was the fastest. It's pretty amazing how he has improved his
performance since last year. I was second and Joshua third. It was the first
touch with other driver performances.
Everything was ok for me, the setup was perfect, I was confident with the reliability of the car. Just I wanted to drive, and have some good fights (fair racing, as much as possible).
And we started. Immediatly, I saw Christian starting a bit late. This has almost made me delete launch control. I went a bit on the right to avoid a possible crash with my teammate at turn one. And I touched Joshua Lyon once, twice, three times. We were side by side, and all was very surprising, very quick (I saw Joshua for the first time when he touched me). And Joshua crashed like a dragster spinning. WOW, was it by my fault ? I don't know, we were side by side, and we touched slightly, it's surely a person who was behind and who knocked him. So no stop and go for me, I thought.
Well, at the first turn I lost 2 places. Bad start, I went a bit on the grass. I kept my place in the following turns, and saw the two Virtual Games spinning and hitting eachother a bit later. I was 3rd then. Just behind who ? Dominik Binz. I could make the pressure on him, first to wait a fault by him, but also to help my teammate who was also under the pressure of Dom. It was very fair in the first 10 laps. At this time, my car was going to be lighter, so I could attack Dom more and more. Unfortunately at the lap 11, I spun trying to exit very well the first turn, to overtake Dom in the following right hand corner. I could avoid the crash, staying on the track, but losing 8 seconds on the leaders.
At this time I was alone. So I decided to attack as much as I could to catch them. The car was a bit oversteering, but not too much and I could do pretty good times (my best of the race : 1:26,290). At the lap 20, after my first pit-stop, I went off the pits just behind Dominik (who was on a 3 pit stops strategy, and who stopped 4 laps earlier). During one lap, I tried to follow him, but lost some time. At the end of this lap, Christian pits, and went off the pits just ahead of Dominik. But Dom passed Christian just after, in the right hand. I was screaming in my helmet(lol), gogogo Christian ! And Christian passed Dom in the left hand. Dom seemed to be a bit troubled then, and with the backmarker, I could be very close to him. I almost attacked Dom at Waite. Two turns after, Dom was spinning, and I almost lost my front wing. But I overtook him.
The Hernj cars were 1-2 then. At this moment I decided to preserve the brakes and the engine a bit, Dom having one stop more to do, and beeing 4 seconds behind. I stayed behind Christian till our own pit stops. For me, it was clear, I wouldn't take the risk to overtake him, and I wouldn't pass my team mate in the pits, because I should stop one lap before. Well, we were having our first 1-2 ! Great !!! I stopped as it was said at lap 38, and Christian at lap 39. But he has known a problem in the pits (they let him start only after 13 seconds ???). I was first then ! Wow, unbelievable. But I didn't know if it was voluntary from Christian to let me pass, or if he had made a mistake. I was confronted to a deal. Must I let him pass me before the end, because Christian way deserved this win, or must I keep on leading, like nothing had happen? I opted for the second choice, because I don't like when they do a false overtaking in the end of a race in real F1. If Christian wanted the win, he would have attacked to catch and overtake me. That's a good fight ! But the team wouldn't be very happy if we crashed together. Hmmm ok, I keep the first place.
The last 15 laps were really easy. Christian didn't make the pressure on me, and was 13 seconds behind. I wasn't braking too much anymore, I preserved the engine, avoiding to go over 18000 rpm (I think, thx to the green/yellow/red lights on the wheel). I got just a problem with Pete who didn't see me when I wanted to overtake him. But he was ghost car for me, so no problem.
I won ! And Christian was second. Peter got the 3rd place and Michael Koel got the 4th place. 2 Hernj and then 2 Ash. After some donnuts, I was thinking to my all team, with who we worked very, very hard to manage it.
Ok, I'm lucky in this race. First, the touch with Joshua, he hasn't been very lucky. Me yes. Then when I spun, I didn't crashed. Then, when I have not lost my front wing, just seeing Dom spinning. Then, when Christian has got problems at the pits. Really lucky I'm.
But I would say that it's a victory of a whole team. I'm also very happy that Christian did the pole, and managed a good race. I'm a bit disappointed by the fact he would have won instead of me. It's a very unfait problem that happened in the pits. So I dedicate this victory to all my team, to Soren Riis who hasn't been able to drive, and to Joshua who was out of the race because of me.
Thank you, my team, Andy and Brian especially. They did great work before the race !!! And congrats to Christian again.
Yannick Lapchin for Hernj Grand Prix Press