Saturday was as pretty as an autumn day can be with sun and blue skies. But the weather on Sunday morning was a different matter. It was very grey and dreary with the drizzle not letting up. The start of the race in the wet became rather chaotic as a couple of cars went off. Hendrik Still, who took the start in the #22 from 5th place overall, moved up to second and Paul Scheuschner, who took the start in the #33, moved from 10th to 5th. A small oilpressure problem (but false alarm) in the first hour for the #33 and a much larger problem with the shifting for the #22 in the third hour, saw the team missing much wanted and precious championship points. The #33 crossed the finish line in 6th and the #22 in 8th position.
The #22 car got 11 handicap drivethroughs, one was more than the expected ten and three more than any other competitor in the field. This was due to the fact that from this race on, Still will be categorized as Elite driver. But as two Elite drivers in the car are not allowed, the team was given one more drivethrough as a penalty, which had to be taken during the first stint. The #33 with one Open and one Gentleman driver, got three drivethroughs in total.
After the chaotic start, a three lap safety car period followed. With 27 minutes done, the #33 came in because of a possible oilpressure problem. It turned out to be false alarm. Scheuschner lost eight places once back on the track. At the end of the first hour Still was in 4th place and Scheuschner in 13th. Still had done four drivethroughs and Scheuscher two.
At the end fo the second hour Kuba Smiechowski took over from Still. He came back in the race in 8th place, one behind Scheuschner. Smiechowski overtook Scheuschner on his second lap in the car, as there are no teamorders in this matter.
15 minutes into the third hour, the #33 came in from 6th place for new tyres and the driver change; Philippe Bourgois got into the car and fell back to 9th place. Smiechowski was in 4th place when luck ran out. He came in with a shifting problem. 10 minutes later he went back out, on slicks and the problem fixed, but had dropped to 14th place. Bourgois was up to 8th but also had to come in for slicks. So did more cars and the laptimes dropped dramatically.
Bourgois was 6th and Smiechoswki had moved up to 9th. The latter pushed really as hard as he could to move up on the leaderboard but still had to come in for the last of the drivethroughs and a splash and dash. A safetycar period spoiled any chance of a better result. Bourgois crossed the line in 6th and Smiechowski in 8th place.
Martin Hippe (chief engineer): “It could have been a great race, except for those couple of minutes in the pitbox. All drivers showed a great performance in tricky conditions and the mechanics did a great job changing the shifting compressor in just over 10 minutes. I think all decisions we took today were the right ones, just luck was not with us. One race left at Estoril and we have to show them there what we are made of.”
Hendrik Still: “ I started frorm 5th and moved up to second before the first corner. The pace was very good over the first hour and a half. We had one of the quickest car definitely, even if we had some problems with the tyres. Also the many drivethroughs did not help our race. When I handed the car to Kuba I had done most drivethroughs. Kuba started really good but the problems with the shifting costs us 10 minutes, a good result and many points in the championship. But we will fight for it at Estoril.”
Paul Scheuschner: “I had a good pace and the car was good. We were a bit unlucky, as we had a problem with the oilpressure and I wanted to check it out. But it turned out to be false alarm and it cost me a number of places. I am happy with the performance and sixth was the best we could do today. We’ll try to do better at Estoril.”
Next race: ELMS Portimao 21/22 October