Strongest Weekend to date for Vivien Keszthelyi in Euroformula Open
Hungarian driver Vivien Keszthelyi continued her point-scoring streak in Euroformula Open and enjoyed a strong weekend at Spa Francorchamps, where she claimed her best result to date - but most importantly, showed improved pace and skills in the battles throughout the weekend.
After a promising start in Portugal and some setbacks in France, Vivien Keszthelyi always managed to score points in her rookie Euroformula season so far. With this positive trend, the Motopark driver headed to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium for the third round of the 2021 Euroformula Open campaign - which markes her return to F3 after few races in W Series in 2019.
The Belgian weekend saw the absence of both Jak Crawford and Rafael Villagomez due to a clash with the FIA F3 championship, but the two newcomers joined the grid: Matthias Lüthen for Motopark and Christian Mansell for Carlin.
The first practice went to Casper Stevenson (Van Amersfoort Racing), while Enzo Trulli (Drivex School) was responsible for the only red flag: the Italian driver crashed, but his team was able to repair his car in time for the second free practice, later on the same day. Vivien Keszthelyi's transponder failed over the session, but the timing screen showed her in 9th position.
In the second free practice session, Stevenson slotted behind Cameron Das, who set the fastest time on a slightly damp track. Keszthelyi finished 10th, 2.105 seconds behind the leader.
There would be a new pacesetter on top of the timesheets in the qualifying session - Louis Foster (CryptoTower), who battled with Joshua Mason (Double R Racing) for the pole, but Foster ultimately was able to set the fastest time on a lap clear from traffic, while Mason had to fight with traffic and with his tyres and could not do better than second, ahead of Das. Vivien Keszthelyi had a more challenging session compared to practice and would have to start the first race from P12.
It was a chaotic start to the first race of the weekend, as Foster defended his lead - but right behind him, Das and Mason battled and made contact at the Kemmel straight, which put Mason out of the race and forced Das to a pitstop. During the subsequent Safety Car, Das was able to catch up with the back of the field.
After the restart, the battles raged on until a second Safety Car interruption when Lüthen and Zdenek Chovanec (Double R Racing) collided at les Combes.
Foster won the first race ahead of Nazim Azman (Crypto Tower) and Casper Stevenson, who had an intense battle with Filip Kaminiarz (Crypto Tower) and newcomer Christian Mansell, who finished 4th and 5th.
Keszthelyi secured her best result in the series so far with a P8 that tops her previous ninth place finish at Portimao.
Race 2 saw Enzo Trulli starting from pole - but a slow start for the Drivex racer dropped him back, while Foster, coming from 6th on the grid, was in the lead just two laps into the race. He would then pull away from Azman, Trulli and the rest of the field. He took his second win of the weekend, ahead of Azman and American driver Cameron Das.
Vivien Keszthelyi arguably had her best race to date: the Hungarian's pace had steadily improved and she was able to get stuck in a four car battles with, Chovanec, Lüthen and Scionti throughout the entire race. After a good start, Vivien fought all way through the race distance and completed several overtaking moves - right until the final corner - ultimately finishing 10th. With no retirements, the result did not fully showcased her progress, but performance-wise, she could finally enter the final race of the weekend with great foundations to build on.
Race 3 marked Foster's perfect weekend in Spa: the Brit had started second, but he incredibly stalled on the grid and dropped all the way down the order. Apparently, not a big problem for him this weekend, as he first passed three drivers before the end of the first lap and some more during the following laps. Half-way through the race, he was already up to third and behind his teammate Azman - but more than three seconds behind the leader Das.
A Safety Car phase followed, after Vivien Keszthelyi and Zdenek Chovanec tangled during an intense battle; the Venezuelan driver went off and into the barrier - with now gaps being erased and giving Foster the chance he was looking for.
If Chovanec was forced to retire, Keszthelyi was able to pit for a new nose and continued the race.
After the restart, the drivers only a two-lap sprint race to the finish line: Foster made his move on the last lap - but Das continued his wheel-to-wheel defense until Foster was finally ahead and took the chequered flag in first place for the third time this weekend, ahead of Das and Azman.
Vivien Keszthelyi - also helped by the Safety Car - could close the gap to the rest of the field after her pitstop and continued her upward trend with a good battle against Lüthen, who she overtook on track again to finish tenth again.
After a challenging weekend at Paul Ricard, the young Hungarian was quickly back on the right path, with very promising performances.
"I'm past a fantastic race weekend!" - she commented after the races.
"It was an incredible feeling, I managed to finish all three F3 races with new experiences and extremely important points." - she added.
"Many thanks to all the members of Motopark, my engineers, mechanics, and all my supporters who made it possible, it would not have been possible without you guys!"
The next race weekend will be Vivien's home race on the well-known venue of Hungaroring, on 9th to 11th July.