Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium almost delivered one of the best results of Presley Martono’s maiden season in Formula Renault Eurocup on Sunday, 24th September, when a fantastic push for the top 10 in round 20 ultimately ended with a 17th place finish for Mark Burdett Motorsport. Producing tremendous racecraft and overtaking, the Indonesian only missed out on a deserved finish in the lead pack during the final couple of laps of the last race after being edged wide and losing momentum. Ultimately finishing in 17th position, Martono was also 17th – having started 25th – in the preceding race. Julia Pankiewicz ended the weekend with a best result of 28th place from the final encounter, having finished one place further back in the previous contest. Race one on Saturday, 23rd September, was something of a non-event when very misty conditions only enabled three laps behind the Safety Car before red flags were shown. “It’s always fantastic to race at Spa and Presley really did put in some impressive performances”, said the Lincolnshire team’s principal Mark Burdett, “Qualifying was good and race three was the highlight, he raced strongly and delivered some good manoeuvres. It’s a shame things came unstuck over the last couple of laps as the top 10 was on. Even so, it’s been a very good weekend for Presley. “Julia made progress in the races, it wasn’t easy from near the back of such a large and competitive grid, but she did a good job and the value of racing at Spa can never be underestimated. We’ve got a few weeks away from the track now ahead of the final round in Barcelona, the aim there is to really push for a strong finish to the season.” Extremely misty conditions awaited competitors ahead of race one early on Saturday morning, where Martono lined-up 20th on the grid from the huge 34 car entry, having lapped just 0.6 seconds outside the top seven in qualifying – and Pankiewicz started in 31st position. Due to the visibility issues, officials started the encounter behind the Safety Car but after three laps the decision was made to show the red flags and call time on the contest with all drivers finishing, of course, in their grid order with a result declared. Conditions improved in time for race two during the afternoon, where Martono lined-up 22nd on the grid and Pankiewicz started in 33rd place as a result of their respective second fastest times in the qualifying session. Martono moved up into 21st position on the opening lap and stayed there during an early Safety Car period before being edged back to his starting position by Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer on lap four. Climbing back into 21st place on lap six, he then gained two spots on the seventh tour and climbed into 18th the next time around. On the 10th and final lap, though, Alex Peroni moved ahead of the Indonesian to edge him back to 19th place at the chequered flag. Post-race, however, penalties for a couple of rivals elevated Martono into a final placing of 17th position. Polish lady racer Pankiewicz maintained her grid position until lap five when Thomas Neubauer dropped back, thus moving the Mark Burdett driver into 32nd place. Gaining another position on the subsequent tour, Pankiewicz broke into the top 30 on the final lap and then, as a result of a penalty for a rival, she moved into 29th place in the final classification. For the last race of the triple-header, Martono started in 16th place while Pankiewicz was 33rd on the grid. Edged back to 17th position on the opening lap, Martono moved back into 16th on lap four after a short Safety Car period and then gained two more places the next time around. Climbing into 13th spot on lap six, the Mark Burdett driver broke into the top 12 on the seventh tour and looked set for one of his very best results of the season as he edged closer to the points-paying top 10. After being edged wide at La Source with just a couple of laps to go, though, the lack of grip and subsequent loss of momentum meant he eventually dropped back to 17th spot. Pankiewicz gained a place on the first lap and as a variety of rivals hit dramas throughout the contest the first year Formula Renault Eurocup racer continued to make gains, before ultimately ending the race in 28th position. There is now a break of five weeks until the finale of the 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup season, taking place over the weekend 28th/29th October at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.
September 25, 2017