Chris van der Drift experienced a difficult AutoGP weekend at Portimao, but the 26-year old kept the spirit of Manor MP Motorsport high with a terrific second place during the final race. “I was charging for the win, but safety cars spoiled our strategy. However, it was great to get back on the podium”, says the born New Zealand race driver.
The race weekend started pretty happy with a good pace on Thursday. However, the track changed dramatically overnight and team had to start all over on Friday. “Suddenly, nothing was really working and I was battling with massive oversteer. It was like we had a completely new car”, van der Drift experienced. With some of the teams putting new rubber on their vehicles, it was difficult to judge where they stood.
Drifting all the way
Qualifying was a disaster. “The rear end was just snapping end for end and I was literary drifting. Some big changes had to be made fast and we did what we could”, he explains. Chris improved his time with seven tenths of a second which put him in seventh position for race one.
Awarded with pole
The car was turned upside down by the mechanics to see if they could unlock the speed. “Having to learn the way the car reacted during the first laps of a race isn’t always ideal, but there wasn’t a way around that”, he continues. Never the less, the race wasn’t going to bad after all, running in fourth position before the pitstops. Changing Chris’ rubber didn’t went as smooth as usual and pushed him back to eight place. However, he was awarded pole position for the second race.
Another podium finish
“We learned from race one and that put us a lot more in the right direction”, says Chris. He had a brand new set of tires and with better handling of the car, he was charging for a win. But two safety car periods early in the race ruined van der Drift’s strategy. “We were lapping 1,5 seconds quicker than anyone else. By the time the pit window was open, we couldn’t do anything but pit and throw away our new tires.” Chris dropped to fourth, but he fought back to second by passing two opponents on the main straight.
“To get back on the podium was great, although I was going for the win. But I won’t complain: the team handled the pit stops fantastic and when I jumped out of the car I thought to myself that it was a crazy race, but one I did enjoy”, says Van der Drift who will remain fourth in the championship with 102 points. Chris’ next attack is scheduled during the weekend of 22 July at Curitiba, Brazil.