Petr Ptacek continued to make point-scoring progress at the fourth round of the Formula Renault Eurocup this weekend – before being cruelly taken out of the reckoning in race 2 after receiving race-ending contact from a rival.
The Sauber Academy driver had never driven at Circuit Magny-Cours in France but found some encouraging speed during the pre-event tests.
However, his hopes of making a strong start were hampered when his R-ace GP car lost vital front-end downforce during qualifying for Race 1.
“When I started my first push lap in Q2 I lost the front right wing flap. It didn’t come off, it was just wiggling around,” the 17-year-old explained.
“I probably lost around 50% of downforce and that affected my front-end grip. That cost quite a lot and we had to start the first race from P11 on the grid.”
Determined to bounce back strongly, Petr made an early charge as soon as the start lights were extinguished. He moved up to P10 on the opening lap and continued to make good progress, eventually taking P8 with a neat move past Paul Arons at Turn 5.
“It’s pretty hard to make progress up the leaderboard in such a competitive series so I was quite satisfied I could make up three places and score points for the second event in a row,” Petr said.
The Czech driver started the second race of the weekend from P8 and appeared well placed to add another clutch of points to his season total.
However Turn 5, the corner that had been kind to Petr in Race 1, showed a darker side in Race 2. Battling with another driver heading into the right-hander, Petr’s MindMaze-supported car was hit hard by a rival who was making an ambitious lunge down the inside.
The contact spun Petr around and broke the right-rear wheel of his car. His race was over – as were his chances of claiming some more points.
“We tried something with the car that didn’t turn out to be good and then another driver just took me out,” he explained. “That made it a race to forget for me.”
With six rounds still remaining this season, Petr now has two weeks until the Formula Renault Eurocup converges on Zandvoort in Holland for round five (24-27 September).
“I haven’t raced there before but it looks like a great track that has just undergone some fresh improvements to make it ready for F1,” he said. “I’m hoping we can finally have a clean weekend there.”