The Strakka Racing team made their Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series debut at the Hungaroring last weekend, with Britons Jake Hughes and Matthew Graham at the wheel of the #60 and #61 entries.
The team are using the remaining three events of 2014 to gather experience for a full-time assault on the series in 2015, but their first outing in Hungary could not have been much more of a challenge for the team.
Hughes qualified eighteenth on Saturday for race one, with Graham in twenty-second. Hughes was running mid-pack for the majority of the race before being forced to retire on the penultimate lap of the race after being hit by a rival and taking damage. Graham had a less exciting race, finishing nineteenth.
Hughes qualified nineteenth for Sunday’s second race, but Graham was down in twenty-seventh after a disappointing session. Hughes had a competitive lap, setting the fastest lap and climbing up to twelfth at the flag. Unfortunately, despite making a good start, Graham was eliminated on the opening lap after being taken out by a fellow competitor.
Hughes experienced the 2.0 Litre car for the first time in the wet during free practice, but felt the weekend went relatively positively for the team’s debut.
“Practice was very wet and it was my first time running in the car in the wet, so there was a lot to learn,” said Hughes. “What was very positive was the comparison between the start of testing and the end in terms of car balance.
“We had extremely good pace in race one, or potential pace, as I was stuck behind people the whole race. It ended badly with a poor manoeuvre in the braking zone from a driver in front. We made a good improvement with the car for race two though.”
Team-mate Graham, on his first visit to the Hungaroring track, rued the disastrous second qualifying session, and thought the weekend overall could have been better; he was still learning the track in the dry during race one!
“We had a very difficult weekend, I didn’t go to Hungary expecting a podium but I thought we could have been mid-pack,” said Graham. “The weather made the one practice I had harder, then qualifying was in mixed conditions and race one was probably one of the hardest I’ve had as I had to learn the track in the dry.
“Qualifying was poor for race two, we needed changes to the car, but made a great start to the race and made some good places before I was taken out. Overall it’s been a disappointing weekend.”