After three back to back weekends of racing in Spain, Czech Republic and Belgium, the MP Motorsport team head back to their Netherlands base in high spirits after a good start to their 2010 season. Competing this year in both the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup, the team head into a four week break with heads held high.
The action started at the opening rounds of the Eurocup at Motorland Aragon in Spain in mid-April. A good weekends racing resulted in a debut podium finish for DaniÃ«l De Jong. After this encouraging start, the team headed to Brno in the Czech Republic for rounds three and four of the Northern European Cup, though after missing the first meeting, this was their first appearance in the series. Their trip became much tougher than hoped, with the whole team forced to travel the 2,000km to Brno on road, due to the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud cancelling flights within Europe.
This didn't affect the team too much though, with their drivers, Dutchman De Jong, Estonian Karl-Oscar Liiv and the Finnish Kalle Kulmanen all performing well in qualifying. De Jong led the way, with second place on the grid, while Kulmanen secured a season's best 15th position, with Liiv joining him in the 8th row.
Race one was disappointing for De Jong. Sitting in second place for much of the race, closely following the leader Kevin Korjus, De Jong's race was ruined after a mechanical problem forced him into the pits. He eventually got back out on track, but ended the race three laps down. Kulamen wasn't able to turn his good qualifying performance into a good race result after early contact with Craig Reiff. Liiv however produced a solid race, moving up to 11th position by the end.
Race two was much better for De Jong. Again, he spent the race on the tail of Korjus, but this time was able to hold on for a solid second place, while also recording the fastest lap of the race. Liiv produced another solid performance, finishing in the top eight, with Kulamen finishing a strong 17th.
Speaking about the Brno weekend, team manager Sander Dorsman said: “It was a tough journey across Europe from Spain with no flights available but to come away from Brno with a podium for DaniÃ«l and some good performances by Karl-Oscar and Kalle made everything worthwhile.”
After a good performance in the Czech Republic, the team moved on to the world famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit last weekend for the second meeting of the Eurocup series. The team had high hopes at what they could describe as their home event, with the circuit in Belgium being the one closest to their base in the Netherlands.
The weekend didn't have the easiest start, with a tricky qualifying session leaving De Jong in 12th, Liiv 16th and Kulamen 23rd. However their was a improvement with their second best times, which were used to form the grid for the second race, with De Jong 7th quickest, Liiv 14th and Kulamen again 23rd.
Race one was full of mixed fortunes for the team. De Jong was caught up in a first lap accident, forcing him down the order, finishing in 17th place, with Kulamen's race ending early in retirement. Liiv's race was more positive though, a great drive gaining him an 8th place finish.
A damp race two saw some more positive results, with De Jong finishing well in the points and just outside the top six in seventh. Liiv again drove a great race to finish in the points again in 10th, though electrical problems with his engine left Kulamen down in 17th.
“Unfortunately we had a bad qualifying for DaniÃ«l and Karl which really put us on the back-foot for the whole weekend”, said Dorsman about the Spa weekend, “Karl, in particular, impressed in the races with some very good battles and he gained a lot of places.”
After a tough, but rewarding opening four races of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship, the team sit third in the teams standing, just seven points shy of second place. In the drivers championship, De Jong is tied on points with Jukka Honkavuori in third place, with Liiv is tied in 11th place with Andre Negrao and Bart Hylkema.
After a tough schedule, the four week break is welcome relief to the team. They return to action on the weekend of 5th/6th June, returning to Brno in the Czech Republic for rounds five and six in the Eurocup series, with high hopes for some good results and movements up the championship standings.