• First year racer ends Formula Renault NEC curtain-raiser ninth out of 39 in championshipIndia’s Shahaan Engineer delivered on his notable pre-season promise during the opening event of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup at Hockenheim in Germany over the weekend, 21st/22nd April, to round-out his series debut an impressive ninth overall in the standings – after also stunning the paddock with a sensational top three performance in the second qualifying session.With heavy rain, and even hail, having a major say in the outcome of two of the three races at the home of the FIA Formula One World Championship’s German Grand Prix, 16-year-old Shahaan coped admirably with the challenge to deliver a pair of top eight results in rounds one and two.Heading into the final race of the weekend on Sunday afternoon a superb fifth in the championship, hopes of consolidating his lofty placing in the driver standings were unfortunately wrecked when he was shunted out of the encounter on the third racing lap after being hit from behind.Even so, the Dubai-based Fortec Motorsports driver concluded his maiden race weekend in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC ninth in the title chase, out of 39 drivers taking part, and ahead of such highly rated F1 aspirants as Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes-backed racer Nyck de Vries.“I’m a bit gutted in the end, especially not to score any points in race three as it was really disappointing to be hit from behind”, said Shahaan, “There was nothing I could do, but we took some good points away in the first two races so overall I’m pretty happy with our first weekend in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC.”In round one on Saturday, he calmly made his way into the top 10 during the opening laps before the Safety Car was deployed on lap six, prior to a race stoppage due to the onset of rain. At the re-start, Shahaan made no errors and worked his way into an impressive top eight finish.For Sunday morning’s second round, too much wheelspin off the line meant the 16-year-old wasn’t able to make the most of his second row grid start and was bundled back to 10th place. Determined to make amends, Shahaan progressed back up the order and after a four lap Safety Car period he made it into a race one-equaling eighth position, pressuring Kevin Giovesi all the way to the flag.Starting on the fourth row for the final encounter on Sunday afternoon, as per his finishing position from round one, the Fortec driver was taken out of the race on lap three when hit from behind. Subsequent rainfall led to the cessation of racing but even though Shahaan had eventually been able to fire his car back into life, he wasn’t allowed to take the re-start.“It’s possible we could have left Hockenheim sixth in the championship if I’d been allowed back into race three”, he added, “But even with a non-finish, we’re ninth and the best of the rookies so that’s very satisfying for my first weekend racing in mainland Europe against so many top guys.”Shahaan now travels immediately home to Dubai from Germany on a seven-hour flight in readiness for vital GCSE exams tomorrow morning, Monday, 23rd April. In terms of his racing, there is now a lengthy nine week gap in the championship calendar with rounds four and five taking place on 23rd/24th June at Germany’s Nurburgring.
Provisional 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup Driver Standings (after Rd3):1st Jake Dennis, 74pts; 9th Shahaan Engineer, 26pts