Michaela Dorcikova equals personal best overall finish in EuroNASCAR return
Making her return to Academy/Alex Caffi Motorsport in their Ford Mustang, Michaela Dorcikova finished 13th in race one at her second EuroNASCAR Pro category appearance in Most - and equalled her best ever overall finish in the series.
It was a weekend of mixed-feelings for Slovak driver Michaela Dorcikova in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at Autodrom Most. Making her first appearance of the season with Academy/Alex Caffi Motorsport in their Ford Mustang, Michaela finished 13th in race one in the highly competitive Euro NASCAR Pro category - equalling her best ever finish in the series.
Although a contact led to a retirement in race two, Dorcikova will be looking to build upon her encouraging pace in race 1, despite the significant lack of track time compared to most of her competition. Joining Academy/Alex Caffi Motorsport for the fourth round of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Michaela was aiming to improve on her results at the opening round of the championship at Valencia where she scored a best finish of 20th driving for Bulgarian Team. Despite an issue with brakes in the opening practice session, Michaela was still able to complete seven laps and placed 19th overall. The second practice session allowed Dorcikova to gain more confidence in the car, improving her fastest time significantly. Qualifying brought further challenges for Michaela with wet conditions at Autodrom Most. Nonetheless, Dorcikova did a great job to improve her lap times throughout the session while keeping the car clean as her teammates’ session was to follow immediately after. Therefore there was no space for a single mistake. The Academy/Alex Caffi Motorsport driver set the 20th fastest time in Euro NASCAR Pro, sixth among the challenger trophy class drivers. Lining up from the tenth row of the grid, Michaela did well to avoid a first corner incident and improved to 16th as the race went under full course yellow conditions. A quick clean-up allowed racing to resume at the beginning of lap three, with Dorcikova now into the top-15 following a pit lane visit for one of her rivals. Settling into her rhythm while negotiating lapped traffic, the Academy/Alex Caffi Motorsport driver was gaining in confidence and set her fastest lap of the weekend on lap eight. As the race passed the halfway mark, Michaela was into 14th and was chasing her best result in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, a 13th place effort which also came at Most two years ago. Dorcikova’s times were comparable to the drivers ahead in the second half of the race, with the Slovakian driver setting another personal best time on lap 14. Passing fellow challenger trophy driver Fabrizio Armetta on lap 15 elevated Michaela into fifth in class, while moving up to 13th place overall. Finishing the race with excellent pace, Dorcikova collected her equal-best finish in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series this season, ending the tough 17 lap contest in a strong 13th. "Saturday was a learning stage, when I was able to improve my pace with the car and finish P13, but that was still not the result I hoped for", Michaela told us. "I lack many kilometres in the car compared to the rest of the field and can only improve on that with driving the car more."
Conditions were hugely challenging in race two with the track damp, but drying making tyre choice difficult. As a result, the race started behind the safety car with Michaela lining up 20th in Euro NASCAR Pro. The Academy/Alex Caffi Motorsport driver made a great start and enjoyed a brilliant battle with Dario Caso as the challenger trophy rivals swapped positions with Dorcikova ending the first racing lap in 18th.
“In Race 1 I stepped back on the T1 fight to avoid unnecessary damage with the weekend ahead. I remember the 2019 Hockenheim incident by Dario still pretty fresh in my mind and I didn’t want to finish in the first turn. But in Race 2 I was ready to give my everything and fight for the position, which I took.” Michaela’s race was then brought to a premature end on lap three when she was hit by a fellow Challnger Trophy competitor during a battle in the final corner, which forced her to pull to the side of the track to retire due to the significant damages sustained. "As I went for the gap created by three cars in front of me fighting in wet conditions, the driver did not respect my line in the corner and just closed up on me - but my car was already there", Dorcikova summed up. "I got a puncture and left front arm failure." "At the end of the straight I realised something was wrong and slowed down, and tried to make it to the pits", she continued. "All seemed under control but the tires are too big to be dragged around uninflated. Three turns to the end it was already too noisy, dangerous and smokey and I rather put the car to stop in a safe position not to destroy more of it and get stranded somewhere on track." Although it was an unfortunate end to the weekend, Michaela showed promising speed in just her second NASCAR Whelen Euro Series outing of the season, her first with Academy/Alex Caffi Motorsport. Finishing 13th in the opening race was a great result, with Dorcikova’s speed in the second half of the race particularly impressive.
Michaela is happy she got back to the racing circuits and will be looking to build upon these performances in the 2024 season with the targeted series yet to be announced. At the moment it’s time for her to sit back behind the wheel of a rally car and push with 4WD in three weeks.