After disappointing results in WCS round 14 at Interglagos where I finished only 20th because of a drivethrough penalty and WCS round 15 at Suzuka where I could not qualify, I wanted to check my level not only against the top WCS drivers but also against the top PRO drivers with which I will be fighting during the upcoming PRO Series.
Qualifying at Montreal is incredibly difficult, as the slightest mistake on the kerbs sends you into the wall. Also, the setup has to be very well balanced as you need a lot of speed in the slow corners and a lot of traction out of the tight corners. But the setup needs also to be somewhat forgiving for slight errors on the kerbs.
I started qualification with a very conservative first lap to secure a lap time. I completely missed my second lap, so there was only one lap left to set a good time. First and second sectors of the third flying lap were slow but the last one was good, resulting in a 1.14.243 at more than 4 tenth of my personal best. I got the 12th position on the grid although I clearly had the potential to be in front, but I guess most of the drivers think the same … It was also 3rd position among PRO drivers, which is the result I expected.
Then the race: The start was average as I used 2nd gear because I didn’t want to take any risk to spin. Surprisingly, I managed to keep my position. I immediately overtook Fulvio in the first straight as he was slow because of a broken rear wing in the first corner. Then I easily passed Andre in T6, but I later understood that his car was heavily loaded with fuel. I quickly closed up and then followed a group with Isaac, Stephen, Martin and Mogar. I was faster but could not get close enough to overtake. Being hold off, Davy closed up and overtook me at the hairpin.
I followed the pitting strategy suggested by the team and it paid off. At the end of the first stint I needed some fast laps to leapfrog Davy. I pushed as hard as I could and it worked: I got the fastest lap of the race at 1.14.168, much faster than my qualifying lap! I managed to leapfrogg Davy during the pit stops. Then it took me several laps to close up to Isaac. In the last lap I had built up a lot of confidence and took the risk to overtake him in T6 on the outside for P9. Finally Stephen ran out of fuel in the last straight allowing Isaac and me to overtake him, which gave me P8.
P8 in a WCS race is my best result in simracing so far. I am really satisfied to see that I can compete for a top 10 with the best of the best simdrivers. I also took the second result among PRO drivers behind Olli, which is very promising for the upcoming PRO series.
Congrats to my team mate Alex for his P15. With ARUK drivers consistently finishing within top 20 for the last few WCS races, no doubt that ARUK will be strong during the 2013 PRO series.