Nyck De Vries’ victory helps DAMS bow out on a high note!
The Sarthe-based team couldn’t have dreamed of a better exit in the final round of the World Series by Renault on Sunday with Nyck De Vries’ masterly drive to his first victory in FR 3.5. The McLaren Junior’s win gave him third place in the drivers’ championship plus the Best Rookie title and helped DAMS clinch second place in the teams’ classification. The only shadow over the weekend was that Dean Stoneman’s jinx struck yet again. Thus DAMS and the FR 3.5 Series part ways, and the French squad leaves the championship with four titles and 16 victories plus many great memories. Good luck to the new series in 2016.
Weather: variable, alternating rain and sun (18-24°C).
Free practice 1: P4 for De Vries and P11 for Stoneman. Different setups tested on the two cars.
Free practice 2: P6 for Dr Vries (a few small errors) and P8 for Stoneman (change to new tyres a bit too early).
Qualifying 1: P7 for De Vries and P12 for Stoneman. Rain before the session, drying track and then more rain.
Qualifying 2: P3 for De Vries (unable to do a final lap to improve). P9 for Stoneman (lack of grip).
Race 1: It was raining at the start which was given behind the safety car. When the race finally got under way De Vries climbed up into sixth place and Stoneman broke into the top 10. As the track began to dry the Dutchman started to push hard and fought his way up to fourth at the flag. Stoneman moved up into eighth place and prepared to come in to put on slicks, but had a radio communications problem with his pit and his crew wasn’t ready when he arrived. This led to a very long stop and he spun later, which explains why the Red Bull driver finally came home in 13th place.
Race 2: De Vries made a superb start and snatched second place while Stoneman also made a good getaway, but got caught up in a sandwich and the result was broken right hand rear suspension which caused his retirement. Up front the leader, Oliver Rowland, made a mistake at the end of the first lap and De Vries shot past into first place. The DAMS rookie opened up a 10-second gap over his pursuers, and even a safety car intervention towards the end of the heat failed to dent his concentration and he went on to win the race. He was far and away the quickest driver in the final event as he confirmed by setting the fastest lap and taking the chequered flag in first position after a stunning drive.
Nyck de Vries: “I feel very happy and very relieved! We already almost won the first race of the year, and I was absolutely determined to bring home a victory to the team to thank them for the marvellous job they’ve done this season. We were always fighting at the front and we were just missing that little extra till the last race. Everything fell into place to give us this success at last. DAMS was the reigning champion. I won in FR 2.0 last year and I put myself under enormous pressure this season. In the end it’s been a hugely enriching experience and it’ll be a great help to me in the future. Thank you everybody! “
Dean Stoneman: “This championship has ended on a very low note for me; it all went wrong this weekend. In the first qualifying session I set the third-fastest time which was cancelled; then there was the problem with the radio in the first heat in which we could have scored a good result. And to cap it all the collision on Sunday! Nonetheless, the season’s been a satisfying one overall; we had some very good races despite a persistent lack of luck. I’d like to thank the whole team who were really on the ball all year and I wish them all the best for the future.”
François Sicard, Managing Director: “Hats off to everybody and to Nyck in particular. This well-deserved victory is a rich reward for the whole team’s work throughout the season. We knew his potential which he expressed from Motorland onwards. He’s got a great future ahead of him. It’s the same thing for Dean who was very quick, and I’m really disappointed for him because he was unlucky on so many occasions. Finally, in the name of DAMS I’d like to thank the whole World Series and the Renault organisation. We’ve had great years and scored many victories that are part of our history. DAMS has now set its sights on other objectives with the hope of achieving the same level of success.”
Jerez in figures
Nyck De Vries : P4, P1
Dean Stoneman: P13, retired
Final classification: drivers’ championship
1. O. Rowland, 307 points ; 2. M. Vaxivière, 234 ; 3. N. De Vries, 160 (1st rookie)… 6. D. Stoneman, 130.
Final classification teams’ championship:
1. Fortec, 427 points ; 2. DAMS, 290 ; 3. Lotus, 274.