NURBURGRING (GER) JUL 14-16 2017 - Six hours of the Nurburgring racing event. Presley Martono #26, Mark Burdett Motorsport. Action. © 2017 Klaas Norg / Dutch Photo Agency.

STRONG WET-WEATHER DRIVE FROM MARTONO ULTIMATELY UNREWARDED AT NURBURGRING

Formula Renault Eurocup squad Mark Burdett Motorsport experienced something of a mixed outing at the Nurburgring in Germany over the weekend, 15th/16th July, with wet-weather pace a match for the top 10 from Presley Martono ultimately unrewarded in the second of the event’s two races.

After finishing in 24th position in the dry during round 12 on Saturday evening, the Indonesian driver looked on course to finish well inside the top 20 in the rain-hit round 13 on Sunday morning but he ultimately had to settle for an unrepresentative 25th place following a late race excursion.

Polish team-mate Julia Pankiewicz took 28th position in the opening encounter in the sister blue and white Mark Burdett Motorsport car, but raced to an improved 26th place in Sunday’s wet encounter which was interrupted by two Safety Car periods.

“Nurburgring didn’t go as well as we would have liked, although Presley’s pace in the wet race was very good and he was unfortunate not to take away a finish inside the top 20”, said team principal Mark Burdett, “In the end, the results don’t truly show what either Presley or Julia were capable of this weekend. Qualifying was key, we needed to be higher up the grid.

“Both drivers raced well under pressure on Saturday in the dry, Presley had a great battle with [Thomas] Maxwell – a much more experienced driver – and Julia did a good job too. We would have liked more from the weekend, hopefully Red Bull Ring can deliver some better results.”

Race one on Saturday began with Martono 24th on the huge 31-car grid and after safely negotiating the opening tour, the Indonesian had to concentrate on working to keep Charles Milesi at bay who shadowed him lap after lap.

On lap seven, though, Milesi had to pit which alleviated the pressure on Martono and enabled the first year Eurocup driver to set his focus on catching the group ahead. Quickly latching on to the tail of former British Formula 3 racer Thomas Maxwell, Martono closed to within 0.3 seconds of the Australian but had to settle for 24th place at the end of 14 hotly contested laps.

Pankiewicz began round 12 from 30th position and, like her team-mate, had to soak up a huge amount of pressure for the bulk of the contest. Driving well and not putting a wheel wrong, the Polish racer profited from Milesi’s pit-stop to move up into 29th spot mid-race and then gained another position into 28th late on when Theo Coicaud slipped back.

Rain arrived at the Nurburgring overnight and track conditions changed markedly as a result ahead of round 13, with Martono set to begin the weekend’s second contest from 27th on the grid and Pankiewicz lining-up in 29th position.

Officials opted to begin the encounter behind the Safety Car due to the very wet track surface and amount of spray, with the action proper eventually underway on the fourth tour with around 16 minutes remaining on the clock.

Martono got away well and quickly gained three places in a very busy first sector, before then moving up further into 23rd spot. Pankiewicz, meanwhile, initially slipped back a place but recovered well back into her starting slot ahead of the second racing lap.

Unfortunately, as a result of a multi-car incident, the Safety Car was deployed again in time for lap six with Martono holding an elevated 20th position and Pankiewicz running in a much-improved 26th place.

Race action resumed on lap eight and as Martono set his sights on more gains he was instead shuffled back to 22nd place, and then 23rd over the line into the ninth tour by Maxwell. Battling hard, he re-took 22nd soon after but an unfortunate excursion in the slippery conditions dropped the Indonesian to 26th, although he moved back through into 25th spot before the conclusion.

Pankiewicz maintained 26th place after the Safety Car and although edged back to 27th, the Polish youngster hit back and climbed into the top 25. On lap 10, though, she slipped back to 26th when Martono moved back ahead – the latter confirming his terrific pace on the final lap with a best time of 2m15.228 seconds, quicker than top 10 finisher Luis Leeds.

Formula Renault Eurocup resumes just a few days from now, next weekend on 22nd/23rd July, at the Red Bull Ring in Austria as support to the European Le Mans Series.