Budapest – 7 years later!
The title could lead to confusion, but it has a purpose.
We came to Budapest fully prepared; the car in its box, ready to hit the track and I, having memorized the track, my braking points, lines … FP1 went well, posting the second fasted time. The leading car was a non-regular driver, preparing himself for another race. I took the lead in FP2. When qualifying came around, we got rain and I mean heavy rain. It was decided to tip-toe our way around. Approaching turn 4, I simply lifted and the car spun! I was very lucky in not hitting the barriers! I continued and a lap later went straight off in turn 10! The car was “beached” in the gravel! I was towed and drove back to the pits. The session was red flagged. The session went green 15 minutes later. My team was adamant that I go out to post a time for the qualifying race. Without a choice, I went out. At one point I was passed and decided to follow the car. It turned out that I was following the pole man! I finished P2!
I predicted the start of the qualifying race very well, and lead until the entry of turn 1. Unfortunately, I left too much gap and allowed the car on pole to pass me at which point he squeezed me at the exit. That allowed another competitor to come side by side, on my right. I lost my braking point at the next corner, braked too late and went off, which allowed 3 cars to pass me. So after a great start, I was now running P5. Budapest is a very difficult circuit to pass. With 3 Italian cars having excellent braking and acceleration, I simply had no chance. I waited for mistakes, but even then it was too difficult to pass. I finished the qualifying race P5.
The next morning, the pole man decided not to race. So I started P4. It had been raining very hard, but the track was drying quickly. The race director decided to start the race under safety car but with slick tires. It was like driving on eggs! After the 3rd lap, the safety car pitted and the race started! It was a slow start for me, but the leading cars were very slow. I started to find grip and took my chances. I passed a first car. The next car made a mistake, spun and I passed him. I caught the leading car. He went too wide in turn 1 and I passed him. I then continued concentrating and looking for dry spots. 15 laps later, I finished the race first with a lead of 31.3 seconds. It was basically a “demonstration” of the car’s ability under wet/dry conditions!
Why use the title 7 years later! In 2011, I won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the European Le Man Series. 7 years later, in 2018, I win the Blancpain GT Sports Club. Yes, I have won the Championship with one more race to go.
Next stop: Barcelona on the last weekend of September!