Outright Podium for Alex Cascatău at Snowy Transilvania Motor Ring
Tough, mixed conditions, various scoring-related issues, and a large field combined to create an unforgettable first pair of outings at Transilvania Motor Ring on 2-3 April. In spite of it all, the second round of the Romanian Endurance Series yielded impressive results for the entire Junior Motorsport squad.
Weather looked bleak ahead of the RES’ first scheduled trip to Transylvania for the second round of the 2022 season. Heavy snow fall on Sunday would be preceded by a similarly serious downpour on Saturday, or so the forecast read. Armed with some shaky optimism, the team ventured some six hours away from the Romanian capital city of Bucharest to Târgu Mureș as the track is located merely a stone’s throw away from that historical city.
The team booked a test day in advance as a way to mitigate its drivers’ inexperience around the otherwise tricky 3.7-kilometer road course. With 10 turns, a significant gradient change, and guardrails looming large just about everywhere, the track is a challenge even on a bright summer day, let alone when you throw water (frozen or not) into the mix.
Three Peugeot 206 RCs represented Junior Motorsport, just like last time out. Alex shared the wheel in the No. 111 Junior Motorsport Black Sea Suppliers Peugeot with Radu Tămaș. Alex and Radu would face a healthier field in the A2 class than before with a total of five rival cars including the No. 268 BMW E36 of defending champions West Competition Racing and the returning yellow BMW E46 with Dan Florea (Junior Motorsport’s assistant coach) and Radical Cup Romania regular Cătălin Iuhasz doing the driving. Also back was the ASOT Racing Team Megane (Pascu/Trifonescu) which was vying for more class wins, as well as the AB Motorsport Peugeot 206 RC (Tabarcea/Zoltan) and the DIRR Racing Dacia Logan of Dan Ștefan and Viorel Ivan.
Practice and qualifying
Friday’s test day helped the team’s junior drivers get to grips with the track and its many challenges, albeit at the cost of a number of red flags that interrupted the on-track sessions. In the end, however, all cars continued on unscathed and were given a once-over in time for Saturday’s official practice sessions and qualifying.
Mercifully, the weather was still dry as the two RES Divisions took to the track on Saturday. While the rain did interfere later on, the doomsday-esque downpour only actually started after the last session of the day had come to an end. As such, the sessions were not halted due to the weather conditions but the rush to switch from semi-slicks to full wet-weather compounds made for some interesting scenes inside the garages.
A 1:55.698 secured third place overall for Race 1 for Radu and Alex, the duo being beaten by less than a second by the significantly quicker BMW of Iuhasz/Florea. Tămaș then put the No. 111 Peugeot fourth on the grid for the second race (1:55.670) but again the car was classified 2nd in class with the CocoRabbit BMW on the overall pole position, ahead of both Dani Oțil (in an A3 class Peugeot again) and Edi Anton’s VW Lupo which by now had already began to leak gearbox oil.
Sunday’s first race (which kicked-off at 10:10 AM local time) was marred by a variety of incidents which forced race control to order the display of caution flags. Rain had, by then, already begun to make the track’s surface slick – as if the extremely cold conditions weren’t bad enough. 360-degree spins happened all over the place with some cars kissing the barriers and even colliding with each other. Visibility wasn’t great either as the windshields of Junior Motorsport’s Peugeot’s kept getting fogged up (we won’t disclose the high-tech solution that the team found to alleviate the issue).
All that really matters is that the No. 111 Peugeot finished fifth overall (third in class behind the No. 48 Logan which grabbed the outright win and the No. 74 BMW of Florea/Iuhasz).
The second race was marred by intense snowfall, the organizers being on the brink of cancelling it altogether. In the end, a semi-acceptable break in the weather allowed for the field to take to the track behind the safety car until around half-distance when, out of the blue, it was decided that the conditions had cleared up enough to allow for green-flag racing. The resumption of full-speed hostilities took some by surprise and a Code 60 caution period soon followed. After the driver change, Alex took over the wheel of the 111 car and started delivering fast times on wet tyres. He caught the leaders after a couple of laps and overtook for first place overall, in the penultimate lap of the race. However, he was deemed to have taken the lead under a yellow flag, as the move was started a few meters before the marshal post where green flags were supposed to be shown.
Just like before, timing & scoring played havoc with the result as both races were actually flagged one lap too late – go figure! It took days for the mix up to be resolved but all that matters is that Alex walked away with a 2nd place overall in the second Touring race meaning that he and Radu were classified 3rd overall and in the A2 class in the combined results.
Thus, Tămaș was again on top in the Junior standings and the crew occupies the third sport in the A2 class standings after four races and P4 in the overall Touring standings respectively. The No. 122 is fifth in A1 with the No. 133 right behind in sixth. The next round of the season will take place on June 25-26 again at Transilvania Motor Ring.
The Romanian Endurance Series' calendar for 2022:
Motor Park Romania / March 5-6
Transilvania Motor Ring / April 2-3
Transilvania Motor Ring / June 25-26
RES 500 @ Motor Park Romania (Endurance round) / August 27-28
Motor Park Romania / October 29-30
Alex Cascatău: „In the 10 years that I’ve been racing cars, I can honestly say that I’ve never raced in more atrocious conditions. I did feel very good and fast in the car on wet tyres, and we were definitely the quickest car out there in those conditions. I was catching everyone at a rate of a couple of seconds a lap, and they all seemed to be struggling like crazy. I'm still a bit pissed to have missed the overall win in race 2, due to a harsh penalty, but that's racing. If we fix our braking issues and bring the planned upgrades for the next rounds, we'll be comfortably in a position to score poles and wins at every round.”