The legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium was the venue for round nine of the 2017Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and which saw Cumbrian-born Frank Bird bounce back to form after a run of steady results.
The Fortec Motorsport Team driver originally from Penrith in the Lake District had three races rather than the normal two to contend with and following a test there last week, he was confident going into the meeting.
Opening practice saw the 18 year old get up to pace in the Be Wiser, Hager, WIX Filters. Loco Energy Drink and Frank Bird Poultry-backed car, lapping just over a second and a half off the pole position setter but it was in Qualifying 2 that he showed his prowess by qualifying in tenth place as he upped the ante.
Heading into Saturday’s pair of races, Frank was hopeful he had the pace to run with the bunch but could only manage 32nd in race one when fog cut the race short and then he finished in 28th place in the second race, much to his disappointment.
However, with the help of the Fortec team and his dad Paul, they looked at where Frank could improve and the teenager responded by coming out of the blocks fighting today to end up in a superb top 20 position in the third race, and in doing so scored his sixth such result of the season but notably, his first since Pau back in May.
Frank Bird: “Q1 was good but we were 1.6 seconds off which was OK for such a long and difficulttrack, but still the set up needed improvements. Q2 was much better and I was 1.1 seconds off and the changes we made to the car worked brilliantly. Race one was a disappointment because it was stopped due to bad fog and in race two, it was much better although I didn’t have the best of grid positions but had good pace and made a few good overtakes but sadly a few mistakes too. Race three was much better as I started higher up the grid, but the safety car came out on lap one. After that, I had good pace again and made good overtakes without the mistakes of recent races. I finished up in 20th which was much better than the previous races. Thanks to the team, my sponsors and my dad for making it all possible, hopefully we can end the season in style in Barcelona.”
Paul Bird, Owner PBM Ltd: “We made a massive step forward this weekend and it paid off in the third race. Frank’s results are built on confidence and perhaps that had been lacking in recent races so it was fantastic to see him back to where he should be this weekend. He had great pace all weekend and I watched him at various points around the track and he was so committed. I’m really proud of him and it’s been a very pleasing race weekend all round.”
The final round takes place at Barcelona at the end of October.
Results (Race 1)
1 S Finestraz (FRA)
2 R Shwartzman (NED)
3 Y Yei (CHN)
32 F Bird (GBR)
Results (Race 2)
1 G Aubry (FRA)
2 M Defourny (BEL)
3 S Finestraz (FRA)
28 F Bird (GBR)
Results (Race 3)
1 S Finestraz (FRA)
2 W Palmer (GBR)
3 M Fewtrell (GBR)
20 F Bird (GBR)
Picture courtesy of Dutch Photo Agency.