Podium visit rounds off a challenging weekend

Podium visit rounds off a challenging weekend

It was a frustrating but rewarding weekend for Cameron Das in Monza as the sixth round of the Euroformula Open Championship took place in Italy. Strong pace in practice was replaced with tactics all around him in qualifying which left Das stuck in traffic and unable to get a proper representative lap on the board. As a result, the 18-year-old found himself lining up on the grid out of position for both races with it all to do. Despite pushing hard, Das was taken out of the first race however he more than made up for it on Sunday with a storming drive to take another great podium position – his fourth of the season so far.

Thursday and Friday before the weekend properly got underway gave Das the opportunity to hone his skills around the so-called Temple of Speed. Enjoying the hours of testing behind the wheel the talented American was on the pace and looking good ahead of the weekend.

However qualifying on Saturday morning was a completely different prospect. As is often the case, traffic built up around the 3.6-mile circuit as every single driver looked to take advantage of the slip stream effect. Instead of lap after lap of competitive times, drivers slowed and bunched together; desperate for an advantage without giving an edge to their rivals. Unfortunately, this traffic coupled with a gearbox issue throughout the session, left Das unable to make an impression and meant he qualified in tenth.

In the race, Das’ luck failed to turn around. Despite a solid start he found himself squeezed tighter and tighter between two cars at the first corner during the second lap which caused contact and sent him off track with damage to his car, unable to continue.

Sunday provided the opportunity to do it all over again. Das fought well to find a gap and remove himself from the tactics on track but was once again at a disadvantage with the traffic. This meant that for the final race of the weekend, he lined up in sixth.

Looking to end the weekend on a high Das got a solid start but dropped a position following an incident ahead of him at turn one. From there, he continued to push hard in seventh position before a safety car came out on track to deal with a collision between his Carlin team mate Dev Gore and Aldo Festante.

A few laps later, Das began his charge in earnest and had taken position from Matheus Iorio as the pair carved their way through the field, avoiding incidents around them. Swapping positions multiple times in the final laps, Das made it up to third, the final spot on the podium, before his team mate Iorio stole it back.

As it was, the pair continued their battle right up until the checkered flag fell with Das brilliantly coming out on top and adding another podium to his season tally as he walked on to the third step of the rostrum.

Das reflected on the weekend, “I think we recovered as a team well on Sunday. On Saturday, we had a gearbox issue, so I had to start at the back for Race One. To make matters worse, I was sandwiched between two cars on the second lap which critically damaged my front suspension.

“On Sunday morning, we got unlucky with track position during the last two minutes of qualifying, but despite not having any sort of a tow we were sixth fastest. For the race, I was in a bit of survival mode for the first two or three laps, but I knew my strong pace would allow me to proceed ahead if I was patient. After working with my teammate, Matheus [Iorio], we picked off cars in between us and I eventually overtook Matheus and defended the podium position from him for the last two laps.

“I’m actually really happy with how we recovered as a team. I think we will be a force to be reckoned with in Jerez in a few weeks’ time.”

Das will take to the track for the penultimate round of the championship in Jerez at the beginning of October.

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Magnificent Monza around the corner for Das

Magnificent Monza around the corner for Das

With the season back underway in earnest Cameron Das will return to the cockpit and launch in to action this weekend as the 2018 Euroformula Open Championship makes its way to Monza, Italy, for the sixth round of the year. Das, coming in to the weekend off the back of a podium last time out at Silverstone, returns to a circuit he knows and considers to be a “favorite on this year’s calendar.”

With history all around the Italian track is legendary for the battles it has seen over the years, the atmosphere it provides thanks to the passionate fans as well as the iconic and challenging corners. A dream for slip-streaming, Monza often delivers the chance for exciting overtaking which can be fewer and far between at other tracks – as a result, the nose to tail action leaves viewers on the edge of their seats.

Das, who has raced at the 3.6-mile circuit in the past knows this all too well. Last year, in only his second Euroformula Open race weekend, the talented American racer fought well to secure two top ten finishes enjoying multiple fights for position along the way. The busy nature of the track means keeping focused throughout the weekend is essential; driving well to gain a slip-stream during the all-important qualifying, while not giving the advantage away to a competitor behind, can often become one of the biggest challenges of the weekend.

Monza will also provide an additional day of testing for Das with Thursday being used to work through what will no doubt be a busy but constructive test plan over the course of the five hours on offer.

Last time out at Silverstone Das drove well to return to the podium following a brilliant defensive drive in the final race of the weekend. Standing back on the podium Das now intends to add to his achievements from the 2018 season so far which total an impressive nine top-six finishes including three podiums and a fastest lap to see him sit fifth overall in the championship classification.

“Monza is one of my favorites on this year’s calendar,” Das said about the upcoming round. “I had the chance to race there last year which will serve me well for this weekend. It’s a circuit that is amazing to race on – I didn’t have a single dull lap in either of the races last year, so hopefully the case will be the same for this one.

“Running low downforce is a completely different feeling, so maximizing the practice time provided on Thursday and Friday will be crucial.”

The full weekend schedule is as follows (local times):

Thursday:
09:00 – 12:30 – Testing 1
13:30 – 14:15 – Testing 2
15:35 – 16:20 – Testing 3

Friday:
10:10 – 10:45 – Free Practice 1
13:55 – 14:30 – Free Practice 2

Saturday:
10:25 – 10:55 – Qualifying 1
14:45 – Race 1 (16 laps)

Sunday:
09:00 – 09:30 – Qualifying 2
13:15 – Race 2 (16 laps)

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Das blasts back to the podium after mid-season break

Das blasts back to the podium after mid-season break

Cameron Das has cemented his speed at Silverstone with a fantastic podium position in the final race of the weekend at Silverstone as the Euroformula Open Championship returned from a long two-month summer break. Showing clear, strong speed on Friday during testing, Das later endured a challenging Saturday with little overtaking opportunities available during the race. However, the 18-year-old more than made up for it on Sunday with a second row start, brilliant getaway and great third place podium position.

After nearly two months away from racing action the sound of engines firing up on Friday was a welcome relief and despite a somewhat short test period, consisting of only two sessions, Das made the most of the 80 minutes he had in his Carlin Dallara car. Finishing as the second fastest driver during the morning session, and fifth overall at the end of the day, Das was in good spirits going in to qualifying on Saturday morning.

As it was, Saturday provided frustrations instead with Das unable to prove his potential; after a hard fought 30-minute session, Das posted the sixth fastest time to set his starting position for the opening race of the weekend. But Silverstone remained true to its reputation as being a notoriously difficult track in which to overtake and provided a relatively uneventful race for the 2016 F4 USA Champion who found himself unfortunately unable to gain much of an advantage; eventually taking the flag in sixth.

A full reset for Sunday meant another frantic fight for position during qualifying. Dealing with the pressure well Das pushed hard throughout and brought his car home in third position to secure a strong second row start ahead of the all-important afternoon race.

As the lights went out at a warm and sunny Silverstone, Das blasted off the line brilliantly to hold third position as the field streamed through the famous Maggots Becketts complex. He came under some pressure from Marcus Siebert but was able to make his Euroformula Open car as wide as possible over the next few laps – keeping the Campos driver nicely behind him and positioning himself inch perfectly. The tense dual continued for the remainder of the race as the pair seemed tied together at points with Das pulling a lead over his rival before the gap closed in once again. Dealing with the pressure well, Das drove a calm and smooth race in the closing laps to take the flag in third place – going down in the history books by securing the 1000th podium for his Carlin team.

Das said of the weekend, “I had a decent start off the line and was able to hold Marcus [Siebert] back through Maggots and Becketts and then it seemed like it was quite tough for him to keep up with me, so I was able to make a gap from there. He then came right back at me and had better pace in the middle part of the race, so I had to do quite a bit of defending but our pace was still very good.

“It’s great to be back on the podium again – it’s been a couple of rounds but it’s definitely where we deserve to be and I’m now aiming for the next goal which is getting on the top step. Two months has been a long time away from the car but it’s good to be back, get straight back on the pace and come away with a positive result.”

With a great result in the bag Das focuses his attention on the upcoming round at Monza towards the end of the month.

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