Alex had to dig deep to turn around a difficult weekend in Hockenheim when a bolt failure put him out of the first Elite 1 race.
Hockenheim turned out to be a challenging weekend with both highs and lows. A great qualifying performance on Saturday saw Alex claim a 3rd row start after setting the 6th fastest time overall in Superpole, his best qualifying position so far.
Things looked good for a strong result in the first Elite 1 race on Saturday with a strong start seeing Alex up to 4th place after turn 2. Then, two laps later, everything changed as a bolt snapped on the car’s suspension and Alex had to use all his driving talent to avoid a major accident, instead of attacking for a podium position.
A slow drive back with limited steering, saw Alex fall down the leaderboard which was then further compounded by a delay in the pits whilst the Braxx team repaired the car. With only a few laps still to run Alex got back out on the track and managed to set a lap time which would give him a 7th row start in Sunday’s race.
The challenges facing Alex’s number 90 car team didn’t however, stop here. After Alex’s race his teammate Pedro Bonnet had to race the car in the Elite 2 race. Pedro had also qualified strongly but his race lasted no longer than Alex’s as this time a rear suspension mounting point failed and he had to pull off the track, with less than one lap completed.
Today should have been a straight forward day with the car now fully repaired by the Braxx engineers, who worked on it through Saturday night.
However, Hockenheim would throw down another challenge. Today’s race schedule had the Elite 2 race run in the morning before Alex’s Elite 1 race, later in the afternoon. Alex, therefore, had to watch from the pit wall as his teammate Pedro Bonnet headed out onto the grid in the car. Having not finished the race on Saturday, Pedro would have to start from the back of the grid, in 29th place.
A strong start from Pedro saw him make up places at the start but his progress was cut short when the safety car was called, due to an on-track incident. On the restart, Pedro was caught up in an incident, and came into view the next time round with the front bodywork of the car completely missing. The car was eventually called into the pits as the bonnet had come loose and even one of the doors was missing.
On inspection, the car could not be sent back into the race so it was retired. Once in the garage the Braxx team started to repair the car and just before the start of Alex’s race the repaired car was pushed out of the garage, but now sporting blue and yellow front bodywork instead of the usual blue and red.
Alex lined up on the 7th row of the grid next to 2000 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Bobby Labonte, who had qualified just behind Alex. The race started this time without incident and Alex completed the first lap on the tail of the leading train of cars. As the lead group of cars pulled away from the rest of the field Alex had a comfortable gap from the car behind. Then all the hard work to build up a gap was taken away due to a number of cars making contact and the safety car being called to bunch up the field again.
Lining up in 14th position at the restart Alex immediately attacked as the cars crossed the start line. As the cars raced into the first corner Alex held a wide line and managed to drive around the battling field, slotting in to 7th place as the cars exited the corner. As the race reached the final few laps, Alex began to struggle for grip and was unable to defend his position, slipping back to 9th at the checkered flag.
“It was a hard race, as expected starting in the middle of a very strong grid. We were struggling a bit for grip meaning that unfortunately, we didn't have the pace to work our way forwards until the restart, where I had the chance to cool everything down and take advantage whilst everyone was bunched up.”, commented Alex
Alex now heads to Zolder for the final round of the 2018 NASCAR Whelen Euro series and will be doing his best to get two strong results to end what has been a remarkable maiden NASCAR season.