DF1 Racing enjoyed what they described as a successful weekend on last week’s OMV MaxxMotion NASCAR Show at Autodrom Most after Marc Goossens scored his first podium finish of the season while strong finishes from Nicolò Rocca and Simon Pilate allowed them to maintain a strong position in their respective title race.
Through two separate press releases – one for the team’s EuroNASCAR PRO drivers and one for the EuroNASCAR 2 drivers, DF1 Racing has expressed their satisfaction with the results achieved at OMV MaxxMotion NASCAR Show despite the challenging weather conditions.
Qualifying proved to be a mixed bag for the DF1 Racing drivers. On one hand, the team struggled in the wet EuroNASCAR PRO qualifying as the “DF1 Tigers” failed to find the right timing to set their best laps. None of the DF1 drivers would qualify inside the Top-10 with Nicolò Rocca, the team’s fastest driver in Qualifying, only qualifying 14th in the 24-car grid.
Things went a lot smoother in the EuroNASCAR 2 qualifying session, however, as Simon Pilate waited until the end of the session to set his fastest lap time. Pilate’s patience would result in his best EuroNASCAR qualifying result with a 2nd place qualifying effort, missing out on a maiden pole position by just 0.1 seconds.
“Our car was really fast, my team did a fantastic job and the setup was good,” said Pilate in the press release. “My qualifying was extremely good, I had the second fastest lap-time and I achieved the best result in my career. But it was also a bit frustrating, because I just missed P1 by 0.1 seconds.”
Despite the setback in qualifying, the ever-changing weather conditions allowed the DF1 Racing drivers to capitalize from the mistake of others when rain suddenly hit the track again in the first EuroNASCAR PRO race. A combination of the correct time to switch to the wet tires and the swift work from the DF1 pit crew allowed Marc Goossens, who qualified in 19th place, to secure a surprise podium finish at Most.
“It was a weekend with mixed emotions, just like the mixed weather conditions,” said Goossens in the press release. “It was my first time at Most, the weather didn’t actually help to learn the track and get the right feeling. My experience in reading a situation helped me a lot, I think, too choose the right moment for the pit stop. It is nice to be back on the podium.”
Fellow DF1 Racing “Tiger” Henri Tuomaala, on the other hand, decided to make a big gamble by staying out on the slicks when the majority of the field pitted early to change to the wet-weather tires. It would prove to be a mistake, however, as the ever-increasing rain would force Tuomaala to make a stop for wet tires at half-distance.
“The first race was one of the most interesting ones in my career,” admits Tuomaala in the press release. “The leading cars pitted extremely early, from my point of view. I took the risk and stayed out. It wasn’t raining that bad at that time and the slicks worked well. Unfortunately the rain increased and my plan didn’t work out.”
The rain conditions continued to play in the hands of DF1 Racing in the first EuroNASCAR 2 race as Leevi Lintukanto was able to claim a surprise 4th place finish, bringing home his best EuroNASCAR career finish and a victory in the Rookie Trophy.
“It was a good weekend,” said Lintukanto in the press release. “The track was new for me and the weather conditions had been challenging. But we had a fast car all weekend and I was able to bring home my first Top-5 result in the EuroNASCAR.”
Teammate Simon Pilate also performed well as he brought home a Top-5 finish but problems for the likes of Justin Kunz, Ian Eric Waden, and the returning Gil Linster would prevent them from scoring a strong finish in the Saturday race.
“In the first race I was involved in a crash right at the start and had to pit,” said Kunz, who finished in 18th place on Race 1. “Towards the end of the race I took the risk and changed to slicks, in order to improve my fastest lap and my starting position for the second race. But the track was still too wet in some parts, so that didn’t work out as planned.”
During the second EuroNASCAR 2 race that was held on Sunday, it was Kunz and Linster that performed well as they were able to survive a chaotic race to finish 4th and 5th respectively while Ian Eric Wadén brought home the No. 44 car in 7th place to secure his best EuroNASCAR career finish so far.
“The conditions have been tricky, it was difficult to learn the track,” said Linster about his EuroNASCAR return weekend. “My qualifying was not the best, I didn’t want to take too much risk on the wet track. In Race 1 I was involved in a crash and my car needed to be repaired.”
“My mechanics did a great job, working all night on the car and in the second race I could pay them back with a good P5. I’m happy that I’m able to fight for good results. We put a good basis on which we can work for the upcoming races, to be a source of pride for the team and move forward.”
Unfortunately, problems would ultimately befell most of the team’s drivers in the second EuroNASCAR PRO race. Early contact between Goossens and Wadén forced Goossens to make an unscheduled stop for a blown out tire and an early retirement for Wadén, with Patrick Lemarié also suffered an early retirement after he retired on the first lap.
Tuomaala ultimately would become the highest finishing DF1 driver in 9th place while Rocca, the team’s primary championship contender in the top class, finishes just inside the the Top-10 in 10th place after he finished 5th in the first race on Saturday.
“We came to Most with high expectations,” said Rocca in the press release. “I think a win would have been possible in the first race, but I had problems with the visibility in the rain. Both races have been pretty chaotic, so we have to be satisfied with the results. We made some good points for the championship and are still in a good position.”
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese / Klemen Sofric.