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That's racing
 Americans in Europe
March 29, 2004

Whoever coined the phrase “That’s Racing,” the blanket explanation for the unexplainable whims of the racing gods, could well have had this race weekend in mind for the 2003 Red Bull Driver Search winners, who are now part of the Red Bull Junior Team in Europe.

Between penalties, spins, and bad tire selection, there was a lot to be learned for Scott Speed, Colin Fleming and Dominique Claessens this weekend at Monza for the first round of the Formula Renault Eurocup. But, that’s racing, and these three drivers will take what they learned this weekend, and look to turn it to their advantage next time they line up for a race in just under a month’s time in Spain.

Penalties and Poor Choices turn Double Poles into Double Disappointment…

At the end of Friday’s qualifying sessions, which saw Speed nab both pole positions with a comfortable margin, Scott commented that the only thing that would stand in his way of a sure victory was the weather changing.

Scott’s thoughts proved prescient as alas, race day brought grey skies, and morning showers changed the whole ballgame. The wrong tire choice for the race meant that Scott couldn’t keep up with race winner Maldonado, although he was still able to hold on and keep second place at the finish. Not a bad start.

The next race, run this time in the dry, was also a learning experience, as Speed was battling for the lead when a safety car period gathered the field. As the field came up to speed for the restart, Maldonado brake-checked Speed, who had to swerve to miss him, and in the process, crossed the finish line ahead of the leader, forcing him into the pits for a penalty.

“I was pretty sure what he had done was illegal, but it turns out it wasn’t, so lesson learned there. That’s racing!”

Sometimes you have to spin, to win…

Poor Colin Fleming. His first ever standing start in a race car, and he gets off the line well. His hopes undoubtedly soaring as he charges toward the chicane, he makes a pair of passes despite the fact that the spray from the other cars has quickly robbed him of visibility.

He still knows where his braking point is for the first corner, though, even if he can’t see it. But the guy behind him DOESN’T, and slams into Fleming’s car. The next thing Colin “The Cowboy” knows is that he has a first-hand look at the rest of the field speeding right at him as he spins off into the kitty litter.

“Tons were broken back there, wings, floor, all kinds of things. But the car kept going, so I did too. That’s racing.“

No, Colin didn’t win this one, motoring on to the finish several seconds off the pace, but is certainly planning on winning the next…

Qualifying is everything…

Claessens didn’t fare well in qualifying, and no doubt was ruing having to deal with traffic at literally every turn during the races. No one wants to be in 15th place, and they would do ANYTHING to be in 14th, so the fighting is fierce in this section of the field, and Dominique was rightly happy to move up some nine spots to take ninth place in the second race. That’s racing.

The boys are now on their way back to Austria, but not before a short trip to Milan for a little tourist activity as they begin to think about the race weekend, see what could be improved, and start planning for how to convert a pole into a win, or how to improve at the start or think about how the car is going to be in the draft, or learning more about the tires, or whatever its going to take to be the next American Formula One driver.

Monza Results
Race 1
Scott Speed – 2nd
Dominique Claessens – 16th
Colin Fleming – 24th

Race 2
Colin Fleming – 5th
Dominique Claessens – 9th
Scott Speed – 12th.

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