Following the cut and thrust of the fourth round of UIM F2 World Championship at Nottingham, England, attention now switches to Milan, Italy as the drivers line up to challenge for the UIM F2 European Championship title.
The format is straight forward with points awarded over four heats, two held on Saturday and two held Sunday, the issue is who can get four clean starts and who will be left on the start pontoon when the red lights go out and who will pick up the trophy on Sunday evening.
With that very much in his mind is the current F2 World and European Champion Erik Stark. “Yes ok, I’ve struggled all year with getting the starts rights” he admitted. “Since Nottingham we’ve been working out what’s been going wrong. It’s taken some time and we have made some changes to the start procedure, because we know that in a fifteen lap sprint race around a course like this who ever makes the best start ark will walk away from the weekend as European Champion.”
Since Nottingham Stark has spent most of his time in Italy after he was invited to race at the X Cat World Series round in Arona. “I’ve raced offshore before at the UIM 3C World Championships two years ago. Back then I was a navigator this time round I was asked to throttle which is a completely new experience for me and I have to confess a scary one at that.”
The event didn’t go without incident and soon Stark was up to third place, but at a crucial point in the race they went inside a turn mark which resulted them in having to race a penalty lap which dropped them back to fifth overall. “It was an amazing experience” said Stark “ To be honest I was completely out of my comfort zone because as the boat hooked and jumped sideways I didn’t have a steering wheel in front of me to hang onto. What was good was that I was able to put some my F2 driving experience into X-Cat.”
Now with his mind firmly back into single seater racing Stark is ready for the challenges that lie ahead. “This weekend is all about keeping your speed up, running a big propeller and not losing too much in the turns. Drivers are going to turn in all different ways; it’s going to be a fascinating battle to see who get’s the line just right.”
One driver who’s certainly going be keen to make amends this weekend after his dramatic exit from British Grand Prix is Owen Jelf. When asked about his crash he said that it happened so very fast. “The great thing in a way is that I remember everything” said Jelf. “As I was coming down the back straight I hit Uvis Slakteris’s wash, it’s really hard on a course like Nottingham to avoid anyone’s wash, but as the boat went up I also caught a gust of wind and over I went.” Fortunately for Jelf his BaBa hull absorbed most of the impact yet remarkably suffered very little damage. After an overnight stay in hospital he was allowed home for some rest and recuperation.
As the race teams were arriving at the Idroscalo venue, the weekend got off to a great start when Team High Performance invited all the drivers and mechanics to share some German hospitality courtesy of Dominic Stahl and Manuel Saueressig. “We wanted to say a big ‘thank-you’ to all the race teams who have made us ‘rookies’ so welcome in our first season of F2 racing” said Stahl. Having raced four years in the German ADAC series before one year in F4S the German drivers have received a lot of advice from their ‘competitors’ as they enter the world of F2 racing. “This has encouraged us to continue with the championship” said Stahl “We are learning a lot in a series that is run by the drivers for the drivers.”
Slight amendment to the time table due to Sunday being filmed by Rai Sport 2 TV live, there will now be two heats for the F2 on Saturday, the first at 16:00 local time followed by the second at 18:00.