Victory and Vice Champion in Sonoma26.09.2012
The last round in the 2012 Auto GP World Championship was, last weekend, held in Sonoma, California, USA. The race was held on Sonoma Raceway, which in the past has had many names, such as Sears Point Raceway, and Infineon Raceway. The tracks motto is “Think outside the oval”, and it is known to be a hilly course, with a “rollercoaster-like” course style. This race weekend was also the first time in history, that Auto GP was driving in USA. I travelled to San Francisco (close to Sonoma Raceway) early to get used to the time difference, and get over the jetlag, as of that the time difference between Norway and Sonoma is 9 hours. When the first free practice started on Friday, I was excited to try the track with my Auto GP car. I had tried this track before on Forza on XBOX, and on a simulator test in Silverstone, but never with an Auto GP car.
The first free practice started off well. The track was really cool. Very adrenaline rising and exciting track. I quickly became P1, and kept it there for most of the practice. In the end of the practice, the others started changing to soft compound tires, while I was running on mediums all the practice, and some of them then got better lap times, where I ended on P4 in the end of the session. On Free Practice 2, I didn’t perform just as well, where I ended on P7. But I got a lot of good and necessary testing out of it, so I didn’t bother that much about the downgrade to P7.
In the qualifying I got back to a P4, where I started race 1 on Saturday. I didn’t get a very good start from the grid, but managed to hold my P4. The bad start actually turned out to be an advantage for me, because former Formula 1 driver, Antonio Pizzonia, managed to crash into Adrian Quaife-Hobbs in the first corner combination. As of my bad start I had more room to calculate a good line to pass the crash and came out of this in the lead. This was a hard crash, and there became safety car for a while. During the safety car, on lap 5, the whole field decided to take their pit stop. The team did a good job, and I was still in the lead after the pit stop. When the safety car went in, I pushed hard, to get into an acceptable distance in front of Daniel De Jong on P2. Then I got a 1,5 – 2 second lead, I pushed to hard, and lost a little bit distance, so I decided to slow down the pace, and focus on just keeping a good enough pace to keep an acceptable distance, to avoid pushing too hard to save tires and to minimalize risk.
I controlled my car into P1, leading from first bestes casino online lap to the last, and became winner of the first Auto GP race on USA soil.
On Sunday and Race 2, I started on P8, where the grid always get turned around for the 8 first cars from race 1. Kotaro Sakurai, started on the first row, in my line, and stalled in the start. This made my opportunity for gaining positions in the start difficult. I came out on P8 in lap 1, where the safety car took place early. I was very concerned during this race that I had to be sure that I was in a position to safe in a second place in the driver’s standings. So, that meant that if Sirotkin got a win and a best lap time, I would need to be P9 or better. So I tried to drive safe, but manage to climb a bit. I decided to take an early pit stop, to get more free room to drive fast. I soon came in a fight between Campana and Spavone in the fight for P3. I tried to get in front, but I soon realized that I had very much to lose, and they had very little to lose in case of an accident, so as they pushed harder to overtake, I quickly decided to pull back to a safe distance on P5. But even though, on a safe distance, Spavone did a mistake. His mistake almost led to a crash, where I quickly gained the distance and came dangerously near him. I really wanted to overtake, but I realized that as Spavone was driving over the limit, I should probably just pull back to a safe distance again, in order to secure the second place in the series. I eventually finished the race in P5 and had successfully gotten the necessary points to be titled Vice Champion of the Auto GP World Series 2012.
The Sonoma Round has been a really great race for me. Winning the first race for Auto GP on USA soil, reminded me of when I won the first GP3 race in history. It was just amazing. The Sonoma Raceway was also pretty awesome, and my experience so far in USA is great. I have been in San Francisco, which is a beautiful city. The racetrack was awesome. The race was awesome. I am now celebrating this season in Auto GP with a vacation with my girlfriend in Las Vegas.