Tuesday, April 29, 2008

LANIK’S WEEKEND – bad qualifying followed by a crash

Sunday 13th April 2008

Rockingham Speedway: Niki Lanik, racing for the Youth 4 Human Rights Miracle Drywash team, lost his 6th position in the 2008 ELF Clio Cup Championship last weekend at Rockingham Speedway due to changeable weather conditions. The 21-year old Austrian race driver didn’t take the English weather for granted during qualifying. The outcome was a bad weekend all due to changing the tyres 2 laps too early during qualifying; Niki qualified 27th for Round 3 and 24th for Round 4. Niki having finished on the podium last time out at Brands Hatch and having won the Clio Cup Winter Championship twice was not too happy about this.

Race-winning Lanik was 5th quickest on Friday’s testing and was expecting two top five finishes for the weekend. As the field of Clio Cup race cars went out for the 30-minute qualifying session on Saturday afternoon, the weather was dry and windy with changeable conditions every 20 minutes. Three laps into qualifying Niki decided to come into the pits to get two brand new tyres put on the Miracle Drywash-sponsored Clio, but it turned out this was a bad decision. On Niki’s out lap the heavens let loose and it was impossible to set any time near the top twenty drivers. Niki had to settle for 27th and 24th for the two rounds.

“Rockingham is one of my favourite tracks, and I know I’m quick there. It was my mistake for coming in the pits too early. I should have stayed out there for another two or three laps like most other drivers did, just before it started raining hard. I’m used to qualifying 3rd, but not 3rd last!” commented Lanik on his disappointing qualifying performance.

Round 3 of the championship saw Niki have a great start from 27th on the grid, overtaking five cars by the first corner and another five by the end of lap 1. On lap 4 Lanik put in the 3rd quickest lap in the entire race. Aggressively moving forwards through the pack of cars, the double-Clio Winter Champion came to the tail of cars from 10th place with Niki in 17th place. A top 10 finish was in sight. Three laps later Niki slotted into 14th place on the inside of Turn 6, but was soon found to be on the grass and gravel with 100mph+ just missing the wall by two feet. Niki rejoined 21st and went on to finish 16th after having lost approximately five seconds in the gravel incident.

“I saw both drivers in front going wide, and saw a gap on the inside. So I dived down the inside. We were three abreast into Turn 6 and all drivers gave each other room, until the driver on the outside starting oversteering and aimed towards the middle driver. I avoided it by moving another few inches over ever tenth of a second, and within a second found myself on the kerb and grass. It was good I did that, as the accident could have been huge if I wouldn’t have backed off.” explained Niki after a near 100mph crash.

Sunday’s Round 4 was a definite dry race with all drivers selecting slick tyres all around. Starting 24th on the grid, Niki was keen on having a good start and aggressive first lap. The warm-up lap was enough to heat the tyres up and get used to dry conditions. Niki had a blistering start passing six cars by the first corner, when suddenly disaster struck. Wood, Robinson, Boston and Lanik touched their rims at 110mph. Niki’s suspension instantly snapped on both sides, with Wood’s car jumping two feet in the air to shot across the track to collect Boston; Robinson was lucky to get away without too much damage. Three Clios, including Lanik’s, smashed into the solid concrete barrier. All drivers were unhurt, but certainly not happy. The Clerks of the Course considered this a racing incident and no driver got penalised.

“It really was pretty bad weekend, especially having had so many high expectations. Nevertheless, I could see an interesting pattern occurring after finishing on the podium in one race and then not finishing the next. It’s all about making the best of qualifying. The front of the grid is safe. People are aggressive but still give each other plenty of room. I’m out at Donington next and that’s my favourite circuit, so I’m sure I’ll do well there.”

The Youth For Human Rights Miracle Drywash Race Team promotes the international Youth For Human Rights campaign – www.YouthForHumanRights.org. The team sponsors include Miracle Drywash (www.MiracleDrywash.com), GridGirlz (www.GridGirlz.co.uk), G&G Vitamins (www.GandGVitamins.com), Wealden Workwear (www.WWPE.co.uk), and Luxury Sign Design (www.lsdsign.co.uk). If you would like to sponsor Niki Lanik, e-mail him on niki@lanik.info.

Niki Lanik and the Y4HR Miracle Drywash Race Team is next racing and supporting the British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park on 3rd and 4th of May. Sunday’s races will also be LIVE on ITV4 from 12:30-17:30. For more information about the team or the Clio Cup visit www.Y4HR.com or www.renaultsport.co.uk.

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