Chris van der DriftAfter all the setbacks of recent race-weekends in the Renault World Series 3.5, Chris van der Drift was hoping for a problem free time at the new circuit of Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal over the weekend. And it was looking very promising with a front row start in the weekend’s first scheduled race. However the satisfaction of starting on grid two turned quickly into disappointment when the Kiwi was hit from behind in turn one just after race start. Race two brought the New Zealander more fortune, with a seventh place finish, and four points in the championship.

After having to contend with brake issues in the Thursday testing session, the team renewed the complete system in readiness for Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions. Despite a small gearbox problem, and a driver on a slow down lap, the current Formula Master Champion ensured himself of a Row One start for the first race, and a grid eight start for the second race, also held on the Saturday.

A possible win, however, was not to be. A hit from behind by team-mate Dani Clos in the first corner made it impossible to continue racing, leaving the New Zealander with no choice but to park his car in pit-lane. It later transpired that Clos had a problem with his gearbox attributing to the collision between the two Euskadi Epsilon team drivers. “I had seen that Dani wasn’t that close to me after the race had started”, said Van der Drift. “I chose to tuck in behind the leader heading into the corner, and suddenly I had a hard hit from behind by my team-mate. I couldn’t believe it. It was just so disappointing; it was quite possible to finish in a podium position even to win the race. Again more trouble for me. And the thing is it must also be so disappointing for the team, we could have both finished with a great result.”

Due to the hot temperatures at the circuit, several of the 3.5litre Renault motors expired during testing and others were found to be damaged and needed replacing. After qualifying, it was also found that the New Zealander’s motor was damaged and needed replacement. Due to the collision in race one, it was only in race two that it could be seen that the setup of the new motor was not ideal. “The car seemed to feel ok, but I was lacking top end speed”, explained Van der Drift. “The car was good in the corners but trying to slipstream down the straight to make a pass was next to impossible”. The Kiwi finally finished the race in seventh position.

The following World Series by Renault races are scheduled for the weekend of 18 to 20 September at the German circuit of Nürburgring.

Van der Drift sincerely thanks his sponsors: Racing Pool, National Meats Ltd, BMW Ekris, Arai Helmet en Oakley.

Chris van der Drift is proud to be one of New Zealand motor racing’s Black Bullets. To find out more about our Black Bullets go to

Results: Race 1 :World Series by Renault 3.5, Portimao, Portugal, Saturday 01 August:
1 Jon Lancaster (GBR), Comtec Racing, 21 laps in 36:45.926
2 Bertrand Baguette (BEL), International Draco Racing, +0.568
3 Jaime Alguersuari (ESP), Carlin Motorsport, +1.110
DNF Chris van der Drift (NZL), Epsilon Euskadi

Results: Race 2 :World Series by Renault 3.5, Portimao, Portugal, Saturday 01 August:
1 Jaime Alguersuari (ESP), Carlin Motorsport, 22 laps in 37:57.020
2 Charles Pic (FRA), Tech 1 Racing, +1.448
3 Guillaume Moreau (FRA), KMP Group, +1.848
7 Chris van der Drift (NZL), Epsilon Euskadi, +5.696

Championship Standings World Series by Renault 3.5 after 13 races:
1 Bertrand Baguette (BEL), International Draco Racing, 110 points
2 James Walker (GBR), P1 Motorsport, 79 points
3 Jaime Alguersuari (ESP), Carlin Motorsport, 74 points
11 Chris van der Drift (NZL), Epsilon Euskadi, 33 points