Double podiums for Blok 0
Nathan Blok drivers his car to the limits as he races on the historic track at Trois-Rivières recently. Always near the front of the pack, he stood on the podium twice over the weekend, helping him extended his lead in the chase for the 2012 championship.
For Nathan Blok, the 18-year old 2011 Formula 1600 Champion, the 2012 championship heated up as much as the asphalt in his #1 Aurora Tools / Mr. Lube / Great Slave Helicopter / NAPA car at the historic Trois-Rivières racetrack. The seventh and eighth rounds of the 2012 Formula Tour 1600 Championship continued under oppressively hot and humid conditions during the GP3R event.
In the qualifying session on Friday evening, Blok had to come to terms with a loose handling car yet he managed to secure the 3rd spot of 26 competitors on the starting grid behind the father and son team of Michel and Olivier Bonnet.
The first F-1600 feature race of the weekend (Race 7 of 12) saw temperatures several degrees hotter than on Friday. Blok had a good start maintaining his third place position into corner one. Series new-comer, Brandon Newey of the United States, made his presence known by passing both Blok and Michel Bonnet in the hairpin. Blok took advantage of the unsettled Bonnet diving past and secured second place.
For the remaining laps of 25-lap heat, Blok, Michel Bonnet and Newey would trade positions behind leader Olivier Bonnet. After gently brushing the wall coming out of corner 2, Blok began to pull away from Newey and began to gain on the leaders. The race ended with Blok in third place behind Michel (first) and Olivier (second) Bonnet.
“Saturday’s race was very intense at the start, and I was pushing like crazy to catch Brandon Newey and the leaders after Michel had passed me in turn six. Once I had passed Brandon for third, I was trying everything I could to catch them, but I was struggling with over steer all weekend, and I didn’t have enough time to catch them before the end,” Blok said.
Sunday’s race saw temperatures even higher along with increased humidity. Starting positions were based on the fastest lap times from Saturday’s race, placing Blok third on the grid again behind Michel and Olivier Bonnet.
The starter gave the green light but Blok did not get the best start and was passed by Newey, Xavier Coupal and Luc Theroux entering the right-hand corner one and leaving Blok in sixth position. By corner eight, Blok retook one spot from Theroux for fifth place. Lap two saw Newey lock up his wheels and slide off the track putting Blok up into fourth and closing in on Coupal. As Blok passed under the famed arch on the sixth lap and approached Coupal’s gearbox, it became apparent that oil was spitting out the back of his opponent’s car. For the next lap, Blok and Coupal diced for position with several overtaking moves. Unfortunately Blok locked up his tires going into corner eight allowing Coupal to lead him into lap eight.
Blok regained the position from Coupal in the first corner and he began to pull away, thankful to avoid the oil which was making it extremely difficult for Blok to see. Four laps later, lapped traffic held up Blok allowing Coupal to catch up reinstating their battle. Coupal aggressively crowded Blok off his racing line on the 13th lap yet Blok retook the position one lap later and so it went on until the 24th lap when Coupal locked up his brakes under the arch, driving into the run-off area and Blok moved up into third place. A full-course caution was declared shortly after that and the race ended under yellow with Blok in third behind Michel (first) and Olivier Bonnet (second).
“I got a poor start, but it didn’t take me long to get my third place starting position back. I was closing on the leaders, but since I was fighting for position with Xavier, that gave the leaders an opportunity to stretch out a lead. The race with Xavier was a good back and forth battle, but his car was leaking oil heavily, making it very difficult for me to see. When he locked up and went off at the arch, I had an opportunity to close the gap with the leaders. The race ended under yellow, and I was able to secure another third place podium finish for the weekend.
“We had been fighting with over steer all weekend and the track conditions were very unpredictable,” said Blok. “My double podiums this weekend have helped maintain my healthy lead in the championship going into a very important race for me in front of my home crowd at Calabogie in September. I would like to thank the Britain West Motorsport team for all their hard work on a very hot and humid weekend, and I cannot thank my sponsors enough for their support to help make this weekend a success.”
Blok enters rounds nine and 10 at Calabogie on Sept. 1 and 2, leading the 2012 Formula Tour 1600 Championship by 39 points with just two race weekends left in the season.
For information on Nathan Blok and sponsorship visit www.nathanblok.com or contact Steve Blok at 613-582-3867.