DAMS scores its first 2015 top 3 finishes!
On Sunday, the greenhorn almost beat the top guns! Starting from a superb pole position Nyck de Vries kept his pursuers at bay before being overtaken by the experienced Matthieu Vaxivière only three corners from the chequered flag. Nonetheless, he scored a great second place in the wake of the third position by his team-mate, Dean Stoneman, the previous day. The two rookies in the DAMS team made a stunning debut that promises a marvellous season to come.
This weekend the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 season kicked off in Spain in mixed weather conditions alternating sun and heavy showers. During the pre-season test drivers and teams had familiarised themselves with the new aerodynamic regulations, and free practice confirmed the expected hierarchy with the Fortec, Lotus and DAMS drivers monopolising the top of the time sheets. However, the DAMS pair had an average first qualifying session in low downforce trim filling the sixth (Stoneman) and 9th positions (de Vries).
In the first heat they proved their fighting spirit and their race intelligence. Stoneman did a great job nursing his tyres and his incisive style at the end of the race helped him to score his first top-3 finish of the year con brio. Although De Vries had to cope with vibrations after locking up his wheels, he still managed to hold on to an encouraging seventh place. But the best was yet to come for the McLaren protégé. On Sunday morning he clinched a sensational pole position in the dry in front of all the top guns in F.R 3.5. Stoneman finished seventh, but the gaps were tiny (0.273sec between Nyck and Dean).
As the start time rolled around on Sunday it began to rain. The race began behind the safety car for five laps followed by an interruption as the rain intensified soaking the track. This didn’t upset the young Dutchman who made a brilliant start when the sun came out again; and he led the race in style until 300 metres from the chequered flag when Matthieu Vaxivière, one of the favourites for the title, overtook him on the outside in the third-last corner. Stoneman was battling in the pack and came home seventh (his favourite figure for the weekend), but was hit with a 25-second penalty for exceeding the speed limit by 2 km/h in the pit lane after his pit stop. Overall, it was a very positive weekend for the team despite the frustration of just missing out on victory.
François Sicard, DAMS Managing Director: “Of course, I’m disappointed for Nyck and for the team for missing out on victory by a whisker. Overall, though, the weekend’s been a hugely positive one. Our two drivers showed that they’re real racers when it’s time to get out there and go for it. Bravo to Dean for his superb podium on Saturday thanks to his intelligence, and bravo to Nyck who was stunning on Sunday and who’s learning at an incredible speed. They’ve confirmed that their talent can more than make up for their lack of experience.”
Nyck de Vries: “I obviously feel a bit frustrated after coming so close to victory, but what sticks in my mind is that it’s been an excellent weekend. I could have done better in the first qualifying session: after that the race was pretty satisfactory. I’m really delighted to have clinched pole on Sunday. The second heat was tricky because of the rain and I pushed a bit too hard early on and my tyres overheated. It was an incredibly closely-fought race right till the end and I want to continue in the same vein in the forthcoming events.”
Dean Stoneman: “Overall it’s been a good weekend. I’m pleased to have given the team its first podium finish on Saturday by controlling my race well, but disappointed I didn’t score points on Sunday because of speeding in the pit lane. The long race was new to me as were the pits stops and I learned a lot. We’ve made good progress in the cars’ setups and I’m sure we’ll be better at the next race.”
Summary Motorland Aragon
1. O. Rowland; 2. J. Jaafar; 3. D. Stoneman… 7. N. de Vries
1. M. Vaxivière; 2. N. de Vries; 3. O. Rowland … 12. D. Stoneman
1. O. Rowland, 40 points ; 2. M. Vaxivière, 37 ; 3. N. de Vries, J. Jaafar 24… 6. D. Stoneman, 15
1. Fortec, 64 points; 2. Lotus, 55 ; 3. DAMS, 39
Next rendezvous: Monaco, 23-24 May.