My WTCR debut. By Niels Langeveld
Niels Langeveld admitted his first weekend in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO was tough going but reckons the experience gained will be invaluable during 2019.
Recruited by Comtoyou Team Audi Sport in recognition of his achievements – and effort – in ADAC TCR Germany – Langeveld was also making his debut at the Circuit Moulay El Hassan in Marrakech, venue of WTCR AFRIQUIA Race of Morocco.
Learning the track
“I drove a lot in the simulator and watched videos. That way I could imagine what it would be like in real life. For the rest I just let it happen. Actually it turned out to be easier than I thought. That is, easier to keep the car away from the wall! As it turned out, there wasn’t much chance of that happening. There is run-off almost everywhere if you misjudge your braking.”
“How about a drying track for getting to know the circuit and getting a feel for the car for the rest of the weekend,” Langeveld said of his experience in Free Practice 1. “As a rookie, I was one step behind from the start, as qualifying would be about tenths, even hundredths. For that you have make it click – and for that, experience does count.”
Close but no cigar
While Langeveld placed P18 in First Qualifying, fellow Audi RS 3 LMS driver Jean-Karl Vernay was just 0.3s faster and qualified seventh. “Yes, it was that close,” said Langeveld. “Getting into the top 12 is crucial in WTCR – it makes or breaks your weekend, especially at Marrakech, where overtaking is difficult. I made mistakes in the first two runs, which meant I had just one run left to do it all. If that goes perfectly, you’re in the top 12.”
An unlucky ‘brake’ in Race 1
“Towards the end of the race the car developed braking problems. I rammed into the back of poor Augusto Farfus, who fortunately was able to continue. My fortune was that hitting Farfus rubbed off my speed, otherwise I would have ended up in the wall…”
Back from the back
A parc fermé rules breach in qualifying meant Langeveld had to start at the back of the grid for Race 2 and 3. However, he placed P18 in both to build his experience of WTCR / OSCARO competition. “At that moment, the weekend was effectively over for me. The second race I had a very good start, and I immediately made up a few places. In the third race the start wasn’t that good. I rattled off the laps nice but already my mind was on the next round at the Hungaroring.”
Next stop Hungaroring
“My debut didn’t go as I had imagined. But I know the reasons why. The team and I know exactly what we need to improve in order to be there next time. That’s why I’m stepping away from this weekend with confidence – a weekend we will just have to forget about. I will be on the pace at the Hungaroring. I know the place.”