Indonesian driver Presley Martono turned heads during only the second Formula Renault Eurocup race meeting of his career at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 13th/14th May, with a fantastic top 10 points finish for Mark Burdett Motorsport in a Safety Car interrupted round four.
After matching his previous best from the opening event of the season at Monza in Italy with a 16th place finish in round three on Saturday, the 16-year-old delivered an even stronger showing in the second race on Sunday with an assured and very competitive drive at the team’s ‘home’ track.
Aside from the excellent top 10 finish, most eye-catching of all was Martono’s outstanding pace in both races. In the first encounter his fastest lap time was a mere 0.1 seconds shy of the best achieved by second placed podium finisher Henrique Chaves.
Polish lady racer Julia Pankiewicz, in the sister Mark Burdett car, posted 22nd and 23rd place results in the two Silverstone contests as she continued to rack up mileage and experience in her first full season in the world’s premier Formula Renault championship.
“We’re absolutely delighted for Presley to take his, and the team’s, first points of the season”, said team principal Mark Burdett, “He’s improving with every session, every time he’s in the car, and that shows with the results this weekend. He’s making fantastic progress in a very short space of time.
“Julia’s improving too, especially with her qualifying performances, and we’re happy with the steps forward she’s making. In race two she unfortunately lost a bit of momentum after the Safety Car, but that all comes with experience. It’s been a strong weekend for the team, we’re very happy.”
In qualifying for round three, Pankiewicz participated in the Group A session and ended the run with the 15th fastest time while Martono was in the ultimately quicker Group B run and posted the 11th quickest time. Resulting in 21st place on the combined grid for race one of the weekend for the Indonesian, Pankiewicz started the contest from 30th position.
Martono moved up into the top 20 on lap one and remained there to lap four when he gained another position. Climbing into 18th place on the subsequent tour, the Mark Burdett Motorsport driver continued his consistent progress and made his way into 16th place on lap seven.
Although edged back a spot the next time around, Martono moved back into 16th on lap nine where he remained to the chequered flag on lap 12, just 0.8 seconds shy of the coveted top 15, with a superb best lap of 1m59.867 seconds.
Pankiewicz moved up into 27th position on the opening lap as a result of a multi-car incident which accounted for three rivals. Gaining another place on lap five, the Polish racer took 25th on the eighth tour and over the course of the final four laps continued to climb though to an eventual 22nd place.
Rain arrived at Silverstone on Sunday and Pankiewicz delivered an improved qualifying performance in the tricky conditions, posting the 12th fastest lap in Group A which proved to be the quicker of the two runs due to a drying track surface.
In the preceding Group B session, Martono impressed with the seventh quickest lap which, on the combined grid, put the 16-year-old in a competitive 14th spot. Pankiewicz, meanwhile, began the contest from 23rd place.
Although slipping a place to 15th on lap one, Martono ran tight on the tail of Alexander Vartanyan and both drivers profited from issues for others to gain two positions each. Racing then fell under caution on lap three, with Martono in an improved 12th place.
After several laps behind the Safety Car, the action resumed with around seven minutes remaining on the clock and Martono moved up into 11th place ahead of Vartanyan. On lap nine, he then broke into the coveted top 10 and went on to end the race on lap 12 with the first championship points of his debut season in Eurocup – seventh in the Rookie class.
For Pankiewicz, round four wasn’t as positive as the previous day’s contest but she did recover to finish in 23rd place – where she started the race. Moving up into the top 20 prior to the emergence of the Safety Car, the Mark Burdett Motorsport racer unfortunately slipped down to 25th during the final few minutes but did bounce back into 23rd at the expense of two rivals on the final lap.
The team now heads straight to Pau in the south of France for the second of three back-to-back race meetings, the first of a ‘street circuit’ double-header. Following Pau next weekend, 20th/21st May, Formula Renault Eurocup will then join the FIA Formula One World Championship package in Monte-Carlo one week later as part of the Monaco Grand Prix undercard.