Mark Burdett Motorsport team-mates Julia Pankiewicz and Presley Martono endured a tough ‘character building’ visit to Paul Ricard in southern France over the weekend, 26th/27th August, with strong pace from Formula Renault Eurocup racer Martono unrewarded at the Le Castellet venue. Following disappointing retirements for both drivers from the event’s opening contest on Saturday afternoon, each a result of contact, in race two on Sunday morning Pankiewicz was the highest placed finisher in 27th place while Martono was 28th after a pit-stop for a new front wing. Following his pit visit in the second encounter the Indonesian confirmed his true pace, and that of MBM-prepared FR 2.0 car, by lapping with times a match for the top 15 – proof of the potential had qualifying gone to plan. “Presley was very unlucky this weekend but he proved he had the pace”, said Mark Burdett, team principal of the Lincolnshire squad, “In race one he picked-up suspension damage in an incident and then in race two we had to fit a new wing. When he rejoined the race, the pace was there – which we saw in testing. It’s a real shame qualifying didn’t work out. “Julia was racing well on Saturday and having a real go and getting stuck in, the collision was unfortunate really and a shame as she’d been driving nicely. In race two she again performed well and took another finish and that was important. It’s all good experience.” Both Martono, who has a best finish of 10th position under his belt so far this year, and Pankiewicz, who was a top seven finisher in the sister Formula Renault Northern European Cup category earlier in the year, had challenging qualifying sessions which meant two tough races lay ahead. Round 16 on Saturday certainly didn’t go according to the script with Martono and Pankiewicz ending their involvement in the encounter early. Indonesia’s Martono began the race from 25th on the grid, lining-up four places lower than he qualified as a result of a penalty from the previous event at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Putting together a good opening to the contest, he gained two positions to climb into 23rd spot but on lap two his race came unstuck as a result of suspension damage sustained in a luckless incident which led to a very frustrating retirement to the pits. From the 15th row of the grid in 30th position, Pankiewicz gained one place on the first lap and following her team-mate’s disappearance from the race she continued to rise up the order, moving into 26th position. Into lap five, the Polish lady racer was in 25th and sandwiched between two rivals in a hotly contested battle. Remaining within just 0.5 seconds of Najiy Razak with 10 minutes left on the clock, Pankiewicz continued to pile on the pressure and as others hit trouble she gained more places. Holding 22nd position into lap nine, Pankiewicz then joined Martono on the list of retirees when contact while battling for position with Razak pitched the No.25 car into retirement on the outside of the circuit with wheel and suspension damage – a disappointing end to a strong showing. Sunday’s contest began with Martono 24th on the grid and Pankiewicz 29th and although both lost ground initially, Martono did manage to move back into his starting position before the end of the opening lap with some good driving. Gaining another place on lap two, Martono then came under pressure as the race evolved and on lap seven an unfortunate lock-up while defending 23rd spot meant the Mark Burdett Motorsport driver ran wide off the circuit, having sustained front wing damage. After pitting to have a new wing fitted he rejoined the race a long way down and eventually finished an uncharacteristic 28th. His pace, though, was impressive as he reeled off times a match for drivers battling in the midfield outside the top 10. Pankiewicz finished one place higher than her team-mate in 27th position, recovering from 31st on lap one and steadily plugging away as one or two rivals – including Martono of course – encountered problems along the way. World renowned Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium will host the penultimate race meeting of the 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup season over the weekend 23rd/24th September.
August 30, 2017