In his debut touringcar season for team SFH Rudy van Buren set out to win the championship. Very devoted to the cause, Rudy managed to reach his goal two races before the end of the season. Here are his report of the championship events.
Race 1 – Oulton park
After loads, and loads of practice laps I was confident of my pace and was prepared to show all hands in the qualifying session. With a near perfect lap I could put it on pole with a gap over 0.5sec!
In the first race I had my other team mate Jeffrey Ruskus – running for Honda – close to me for the first few laps, but after that I was able to create a comfortable gap and keep that to the end. First win of the new season!
In the second race the WTCC style top 8 reverse grid was used, so for me the task was hard. Getting through the field asap in the first few laps sometimes turns out to be a right mess, but this time I had all the luck on my side and could rush through the cars in front of me in just 4 laps. From there on I could see that my hardest competition from race 1 got taken out in a race incident what gave me a comfortable lead to the end. This meant I took the hole shot during the first race of the year.
Race 2 – Brands Hatch Indy
With the first round being so successful I could only score worse results compared to that, but with the motivation up high I practiced quite a lot and got to a decent pace. The thing that was not helping me was the fact I needed to run a 15kg weight penalty because of the good result in round 1.
My teammate Dennis Douna couldn’t run in Oulton Park, but here he was around and grabbed the pole off me by a tenth of a second. To make him feel bad I just put it down to the 15kg in my car.
With the start of the first race I was able to stay close to him and keep him under pressure for 75% of the race before I found a gap to pass him. A few laps after that, suddenly all hell broke loose when it started to rain cats and dogs and we were all running on slicks. I decided to stay out on slicks, what in the end was the correct choice but not the easiest one to put down. On the positive side, I was able to keep it on track and grab the 3rd win of the season.
When the weather forecast for race 2 was announced, the said it would be rain. When the start really took place on the raceday, it was dry but I still gambled to start on rain tires expecting it to rain in just a few laps. This rain didn’t come, and wenn a car spun in front of me in t1 I couldn’t avoid it anymore and my race came to an end with a big bang. This meant I had the first DNF of the season.
Race 3 – Melbourne Park
With the bad result of Brands Hatch still in my mind, I gave this one a full attack to make sure I would be able to perform like I did in the first race. On the positive side, my 15kg weight penalty was going down to 10kg.
For this race It’s a short story since it was one of these perfect races.
During qualifying I could grab the pole, and after that drive to 2 wins without any exciting moments apart from the start in race 2.
Race 4 – Oschersleben
25kg in the bag, and a difficult task at the short and twisty circuit.
After some mechanical problems my team mate was back, and once again he snitched the pole away from me. I ended up 2nd.
During the start of race 1, me and Dennis were able to pull clear of the field within no time, meaning that we could start fighting for the win our self without looking back. Since I had the heavier car I was expecting not to match his pace, but after a few laps I found out I could and I was hoping for a mistake from his side to grab him. I’ve tried it the whole race, but there wasn’t any moment where I could do a serious attack and I decided it was better to settle for the 2nd place. In the end he didn’t mean anything bad in the championchip for me and it was the smartest thing to do.
Race2, starting on the 7th position. With a bad start from my side I needed to put all of my guts in to grab some cars into the first turn. With clearly some luck I grabbed 3 of them, and could strike for the 4th 2 corners later. Dennis was stuck 2 more places behind me at that point, and I could only think of getting to p1 asap to make sure to have a gap once he got through. On the point that I went on to attack for p2 I got the message through Teamspeak that Dennis was of, which meant that I could relax a little and play it smart. After some door rubbing I was through to the lead and could hold it until the end. Grabbing the 6th win of the season.
For now on there are 2 more races on the schedule, I’ve got the maximum penalty weight ( 40kg ) in the car so it’s going to be a surprise how the pace will be.
The season finale
“With two races to go, and the option to grab the title already in this event the pressure was on me to keep the compitition behind me.
For this race I had the maximum 40kg weight penalty and needed all the luck i could get to make this into a double win again.”
But that wasn’t the only hurdle Rudy had to take to reach his goal.
“My preparation for this race wasn’t as good as previous races, a new internship started last week and i suddenly got a lot less free time. Because of that I went into the race evening with only 10 laps under my belt and I had a hard time putting decent times down.
In the first part of the qualification I ran with race fuel, to get an idea what the tires would do over a stint. The laptimes got a little better, but it was still quite dificult to get within reach of the top guys and i was lucky to get threw to the superpole.
For the superpole it was my first run on low fuel, i guessed some small changes in the setup and went for it. I made some minor mistakes but at the line I saw I took the pole by 0.040! With the weight in mind I was seriously relieved.
After that it was time for race 1, wich turned out to be just as dificult as in the qualifing. Robin Tol was running behind me within one second for the whole race and with my tires going down very quickly I got into more trouble in the end of the race. With 2 laps to go, I got tabbed in t2 and nearly spun, Robin overtook me and I could start the chase. Fair driver as he is he let me by again on the straight next lap, wich gave me just enough breathing space to take the win!”
One down, one to go.
“Race 2 with the reversed grid was going to be all about my start, I pretty much nailed the launch and was in p4 out of the first turn. A long slipstream started and in t2 I could overtake Frank Zweers and continue my way to the front. On that point my biggest competition from race 1 had a accident wich gave me some breathing space behind me. I could see that the guys on p1 and 2 were not on the same pace as me, and a relaxed aproach was the only thing I could do. While I was waiting for a mistake from both guys, I could give my tires some more attention and those were in alot better shape then in race 1. With 5 laps to go the mistake’s came from the guys in front and I could pass them. Wenn that happend the started fighting behind me, giving me het edge to drive away and get the double win.”
“Quite a suprise to get this result out a tough race, including the weight penalty. Though the good news is that 40kg is the maximum allowed ballast, and the championchip is in the bag.
Next Wednesday is the last race of the season, wich is going to be a relaxed one for me since my job is done. Even though i will do my best to get some more trophies out of Monaco!”