Euroformula: Vivien Keszthelyi's first DNF amidst pouring rain and engine troubles
The final Euroformula Open race at Hungaroring proved to be a challenging one for Vivien Keszthelyi even before the race start, with another last minute engine change and under the pouring rain.
The final Euroformula Open race at Hungaroring proved to be a chaotic one even before the lights out, with a heavy rainfall starting mid-way through the GT Open race that forced the drivers to take the start behind the Safety Car.
But it was an even more challenging race for Vivien Keszthelyi – the top Hungarian single-seater racer that was eyeing a strong performance on home soil.
Keszthelyi’s #77 Motorpark car suffered from engine problems on Friday and the German team performed an engine change overnight that allowed the 20-year old driver to make good progress into Saturday’s qualifying. In Race 1, she showed promising pace for the remainder of the weekend, but it would be in Race 2 that Keszthelyi again scored points with another solid performance and good battles.
She was ninth at the finish line and signed a series of fast laps towards the end of the race that put her in 10th place for Race 3.
“Race two was quite decent – we had a really good pace to be fair, we were doing only 5 tenths off from the fastest ones, which is pretty strong.” – she told us.
“The start was also mega, I really was focused on not getting involved in any crash, because there were my teammates standing in front of me and I didn’t want to crash into them, so I lost quite a bit of positions.”
“But overall race 2 was really good, again I gained a lot of experience. It was hard to follow the cars but I managed to catch up quite closely and I finished in the points.”
Drama, though, occurred in between the races, with another engine issue discovered in Keszthelyi’s car that would force the Motopark crew to another last minute swap.
“In Race 3 it had started to rain, but maybe the main issue was that it started to be a bit chaotic after race 2, as we realized that we had a stone into the engine – so we had to change the engine again, and it was really at the last second. But we managed to go out with one minute left to the open pitlane.”
Motopark’s effort was successful and Keszthelyi went out on the grid – under the pouring rain. Championship leader Cameron Das started from pole despite finishing outside the points in Race 2, followed by Villagomez, Azman, Stevenson and Bolukbasi.
During the Safety Car phase, Louis Foster went off into the gravel at Turn 10 – where the standing water really proved to be a gamble for all the drivers. Foster managed to rejoin without losing positions.
Four laps into the race – with two more being added by the race direction – the race went green and Das managed to stay ahead, with the advantage of a clear vision.
Bolukbasi went wide and left the door open to Crawford, but the action wasn’t long lived as another Safety Car was sent out when Mason found the gravel at Turn 10.
The conditions were so critical that Vivien Keszthelyi also followed, going off and getting stuck in the gravel in a river of water.
Racing resumed with 14 minutes left, with visibility an issue for everyone except Das: the American pulled away and left Villagomez and Azman fighting for the runner up spot. Foster passed Bolukbasi with an outstanding move around the outside – but the Turkish driver responded back. The rookie would ultimately drop behind both Stevenson and Foster, finishing in seventh.
Red Bull-backed Jak Crawford was looking comfortable in the rain conditions and caught up with Azman and Villagomez as he tried to grab a podium, but with no success. Joshua Durksen – also making his debut at the Hungaroring in his first Euroformula appearance – had very impressive races both on Saturday and Sunday morning, but struggled under the rain of Race 3.
Double-R Racing’s Zdenek Chovanec was up three places from his starting place, but had cut the chicane and gained a position on Durksen. When the Venezuelan continued without handing the position back, he was informed by race control to switch back – but went wide at Turn 6 and positions were naturally restored.
Filip Kaminiarz spun and rejoined at the chicane, but had a consistent gap to Scionti in P11.
Team Motopark’s Cameron Das won his fifth race of the season and extended his championship lead over Foster, who had been able to cut the margin to just two points after Race 2. Villagomez scored another podium for Van Amersfoort Racing and preceded Nazim Azman, Casper Stevenson and Jak Crawford to round out the top five.
Vivien Keszthelyi unfortunately had her first DNF of the season, but will surely bring her newly gained experience to Imola, as Euroformula enters its second half of the season.
“We were running with a spare engine, already in bad conditions.” – she summed up after the race. “We tried to run this race with it and I was already in the points again, but during the Safety Car there was just a river.”
“I had aquaplaning and unfortunately went off. At that moment, when I saw that I was already close to the marshals and they were recovering another car there – I just saved it and luckily nothing bad happened and the car is still in one piece.”
“Obviously this race is one to forget but we learn from it and we just move forward to Imola.”
Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari will in fact host the next race meeting in two week’s time.