Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil are aiming for the podium once again after arriving at the Estoril Circuit in Portugal for races three and four of the championship. After an incredible start to the season in Bahrain, the team now leads both the drivers’ and teams’ championship and is hoping to retain their lead this weekend. It isn’t going to be easy though; Estoril is a new circuit on the calendar and Pepe Oriola and James Nash will both be carrying success ballast. At this early stage in the championship the trio of drivers all remain focused on podium results but recognize the growing challenge from the competition.
Pepe Oriola took two solid victories in Bahrain but he will now have to carry the full 30kg success ballast, which will be a tough challenge for the Spaniard. Oriola proved how quick he could be with the full weight penalty last season and is looking to keep up his momentum and lead in the championship. While the young driver has not competed at the Portuguese circuit, he has had the opportunity to test on the famous track before and gained further experience when the series took to the circuit for testing on Wednesday. This should help him in his fight for a good result later this week.
Newcomer to the series, James Nash, impressed with two podiums on his debut and showed that he was going to be a serious championship contender for 2016. He will have to do battle with 20kg of success ballast but will start the weekend with a great deal more experience behind the wheel of his SEAT Leon and should still be a podium contender for Sunday’s races.
Sergey Afanasyev set a blistering pole position lap last round and he will be gunning for a repeat in Portugal. With the team’s test on Wednesday, the Russian driver has been able to further get to grips with the 2016 SEAT Leon and is confident that he can still improve his performance. Having raced at the grand prix circuit before, Afanasyev will be working on his lap times from the first free practice session on Friday to give him the edge on his opponents. He will also be free from the weight penalty throughout the weekend and he hopes that this will help him continue with the pole position form that he showed at the season open in Bahrain.
Timetable for Estoril, Portugal (GMT + 1):
Friday 22nd of April: FP1 at 17:10
Saturday, 23rd of April: FP2 at 10:15am, Qualifying 16:40 to 17:15
Sunday, 24th of April: Race One at 11:25am, Race Two at 17:05