Julia Pankiewicz produced one of her best Formula Renault Eurocup race performances of the season during round 15 of the campaign at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on Sunday, 23rd July, by battling to a top 20 finish from the back of the 30-car grid for Mark Burdett Motorsport.
Arriving at the Spielberg track just a week on from the previous event at the Nurburgring in Germany, the Polish racer started off with 26th position in round 14 on Saturday, 22nd July, and then delivered a very impressive account of herself in the second contest.
Team-mate Presley Martono looked well on course to finish in the top 15 at the very least in Sunday morning’s encounter but an unfortunate tangle, while dicing for position mid-race, led to retirement in the gravel at Turn Three. During the preceding day’s outing, the Indonesian rookie finished in 23rd place for the Lincolnshire team.
“It’s been a bittersweet weekend really”, said team boss Mark Burdett, “Race two was the highlight where Julia was concerned, she did a great job to come through and raced well under pressure, but Presley’s incident was very unfortunate and a real shame as he was looking strong and driving well.
“The overall performance of both drivers was an improvement on the Nurburgring last weekend, but we didn’t come away with the results we feel we deserved so that’s disappointing. Presley and Julia still have a huge amount to learn, but they’re gaining vital experience in probably the toughest junior single-seater championship in the world and competing with some of the very best young drivers.”
Martono qualified inside the top 20 for his maiden race outing at the Red Bull Ring but the opening contest didn’t start at all as planned when an unfortunate stall left the Indonesian stranded on the grid – fortunately avoided by all of the cars behind, including Pankiewicz.
Darting around her team-mate’s car, the Polish racer also gained another position at Turn One to move up from 30th place at the start into 28th spot. Taking two more positions before the end of the opening tour, Pankiewicz held 26th position and remained there initially before being edged back to 27th place with around 20 minutes to go. In the end, though, she regained 26th spot.
Meanwhile, Martono mounted a stirring recovery after managing to fire his FR 2.0 car back into life and after getting ahead of Pankiewicz, he set his sights on more. Climbing as high as 23rd place, the youngster tried everything to usurp the cars ahead but he had to settle for that position in the end.
Martono went on to begin round 15 on Sunday morning from 20th on the grid and made a good getaway, moving into 18th position and then climbing into 17th place before the end of the lap. Taking 16th on the second tour, the Mark Burdett Motorsport driver ran extremely competitively and quickly closed up behind Axel Matus.
Shadowing his rival, by lap seven Martono was in a position to try and challenge for the top 15 and at Turn Three he saw his chance on the inside but unfortunate contact followed and both drivers spun out – Martono ending his race in the gravel.
Pankiewicz began race two from 30th place and made good progress, moving up into 26th position prior to the Safety Car period which was required after the incident involving Martono. Racing resumed with around eight minutes to go and the Pole continued to climb the order well.
Driving impressively, as several others made mistakes, Pankiewicz performed faultlessly and following another Safety Car period late on she concluded the encounter inside the top 20 – a gain of no fewer than 10 places on her starting slot.
Mark Burdett Motorsport will be back in action over the weekend 26th/27th August for the eighth race meeting of the Formula Renault Eurocup season, at Paul Ricard in southern France.