Wellingborough [UK] – Tuesday 23rd June 2015: Its Independents day for heavy Chevy’s in Slovakia
Valente nails two wins in the Independents Trophy
New boy Mat’o Homola takes Campos’ spare car into Q2
Around the multiple turns and elevation changes of the Slovakia Ring, the extra success ballast being carried by the RML Cruze cars this weekend is making life even more challenging for our customers. Despite this, the Cruze still looks to be the 2nd quickest car although the Lada, running with zero success ballast, is very close. In qualifying, Valente was an annoyed 6th, just missing out on Q3 after losing 3/10ths around a messy lap. Chilton was a frustrated 8th, having lost track time for repairs after a puncture induced off in practice, debutant Mat’o Homola was a happy 11th on his debut in Campos’ 3rd car (an impressive performance even taking into consideration his local knowledge and ahead of the Bennani Citroen), Tom Coronel was a resigned 14th, Filippi was quietly happy (we think because its hard to tell..) 15th and showing good progress to be ahead of the always cheerful and optimistic Stefano D’Aste. Finally Gregoire Demoustier will bring up the rear after failing to make the session due to repairs being required after a fairly major shunt in FP2. This was a pity as, like Filippi, Greg is starting to make real progress.
In race 1 Hugo made a good start and challenged around the outside of Huff’s Lada for 4th place in both turns 1 and 2, eventually having to settle in behind the wily ex World Champion to eventually finish 5th. From row 3 Tom also good a good start only to be clattered going into turn 3. The subsequent slide was caught well but momentum was lost and the Brit (feeling a little unwell) behind Tarquini in 7th.
Further back Tom Coronel enjoyed an entertaining dice with the recovering Citroen of Ma to finish in 9th whilst Stefano D’Aste and John Filippi finished in 11th and 12th positions respectively. Homola came into the pits at the end of lap 1 reporting handling problems (returning later to check the issues had been resolved before race 2), although even that was a bit better than Demoustier, who started from the pitlane and then retired after 1 lap with his splitter dragging on the ground, a legacy of his heavy crash in FP2 yesterday.
Up until race 1 the day had been dry, sunny but a bit chilly around the edges before heating up for race 2. The action was hotter on track too as unwell Tom sitting on grid 3 got swallowed up by the faster starting Citroens into turn 1 whilst Valente got another good start to move ahead and into 5th place this time ahead of all the Ladas. Ma had made an even worse start this time (if you call it a start at all) causing mayhem as both Filippi and D’Aste swerved violently to avoid subsequently stalled the Citroen just ahead and allowing the left hand side of the grid to gain an advantage. From a comfortable 7th unwell Tom retired on the last lap with a front left puncture, his second of the weekend.
Meanwhile multi coloured Tom (Coronel for those watching in black and white) was much stronger again in race 2 and was busy catching the squabbling Hondas of Michelisz and Montiero with Argentinian TC2000 Champion Nestor Girolami following. It threatened to get as exciting as Tom’s livery but the 4 ultimately finished in line astern.
Demoustier’s Cruze was fit and well and Greg had a good race with John Filippi, coming out ahead of the Corsican and a closely following Homola, who must have hoped for more after his great quali performance yesterday. D’Aste struggled badly after contact on lap 1, the resulting damage causing excess front tyre wear.
All in all the RML Cruze maintained its strong pace with the weight penalties on a punishing track. Valente scored maximum points in the independent’s trophy and both Filippi and Demoustier showed more signs of improvement in what is proving to be a very strong and demanding WTCC season.
RML’s support engineers have a long night ahead as the cars are stripped down, analysed and loaded for the direct journey from Slovakia to Le Castellet ahead of the next dose of WTCC action at the high tech Paul Ricard circuit next weekend.