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Torrential Rain, Two Red Flags and Gearbox failure, but still Dan de Zille brings home the silverware!
Date: Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Brands Hatch hosted the first of the EuroCup rounds for the British Formula Ford Championship, which invites drivers from the Dutch Formula Ford series to join the British grid.

Testing on the Friday went well, with Dan in the top 10 all day, finishing 3rd fastest overall on the full Brands Hatch GP circuit, one of Dan’s favourites. Qualifying would also have followed suit, was it not for Dan catching traffic on the last flying lap. However, he’d done enough to gain respectable start positions of 5th, 5th and 4th for the weekend’s three races.

Race 1 on the Saturday was a dry start, and Dan quickly made good headway to get up into 4th position - just as the rain started to fall. His recent GT racing had clearly given Dan an edge for driving in the rain on slicks, and while fellow runners were struggling for grip, Dan popped his Mygale up into 3rd position. But the manoeuvre was academic as the race was then red flagged, and all cars returned to the pit lane to change to wet weather tyres. Positions were re-wound one lap and Dan was put back into 5th for the restart.

Unfazed by the weather, and with only 5 minutes of the race left to run, Dan used his local track knowledge to get ahead of Neil Alberico to regain his podium place, finishing 3rd overall.

Race 2 was the only dry one all weekend. Dan started from 5th position and got up to 4th, but a slight coming together with Slaghekke at Surtees took the speed out of the corner for Dan, allowing three rivals in hot pursuit to pass, dropping him back to 8th. A masterful climb through the field saw Dan get everyone back to regain hisoriginal starting position, and the closing laps featured a titanic battle with Mingay and Slaghekke, resolved with Dan placing 7th overall.

Race 3 was a dé jà vu of Race 1: a dry start, four laps of dry running before the rain, then monsoon conditions, prompting the red flag and a restart. Unfortunately, Dan’s luck wasn’t in today; struggling to get away from the line in 2nd gear, he could feel the gearboxfailing, gradually landing him with just 4th gear. At the restart he wasn’t even sure the car was going to pull away, but he did manage it, though dropping somewhat inevitably to last position. Dan gallantly tried to coax the car to the finish just to get the points, but even with the 2-lap sprint restart the gearbox gave up completely, leaving him stranded and a DNF.

Dan’s comments on the weekend reflect his fortunes: “I am pretty disappointed; Brands is my favourite circuit and was probably my best chance of a win. We were strong in testing on Friday too, despite all the red flags. But I have enjoyed the weekend all the same. We had some good battles in Race 2, and that’s what its all about. I am really looking forward to getting out in Spa for the next EuroCup round on the 8/9th July.”

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