Daniel Serra (Red Bull) and Max Wilson (RC), both from São Paulo, each scored a win in the double round of Stock Car’s third stage, but who almost stole the show at the Velopark speedway in Rio Grande do Sul on Sunday (the 26th) was Júlio Campos, from Paraná. With two third places and a third consecutive podium, the Prati-Donaduzzi Team’s driver took second place in the standings and is now biting Cacá Bueno’s (Red Bull) heels, for it is merely a narrow three-point lead in the overall standings.
This is the best position occupied by Campos, 33, since joining Stock Car back in 2006. Tired with the excessive wear in the races run under extremely high temperatures, Campos notes that the plan worked. “We are here to fight for the title and, therefore, it is essential to add as many points as possible at each stage. I could even have used the push-to-pass button to overcome Marcos Gomes in the first race, but I thought it was better to save it for the second leg. I was lucky because the two times the safety car entered, I still had a push-to-pass reserve to use,” he explained.
Campos was coming off a third place finish earlier this month in Ribeirão Preto. Over the weekend, he drove among the fastest drivers all the way since the free practices, and started third in the opening of the program, behind pole-position Marcos Gomes (Voxx Racing) and Serra. There were several position changes between him and Gomes after Serra took the lead following the stops for refueling and tire change, and he settled for the last spot on the podium. In the 2nd leg, he started off in 8th place, took advantage of errors from other drivers, approached the leaders and managed the result well. “Even from inside the car, I kept calculating and I knew that, in the positions we finished the race, I would be very close to Cacá,” he said.
The second leg result, in which Max knew to take advantage of the pole-position secured by the 10th place in the first leg, exceeded his expectations, but also redeemed him from the bitter disappointment of last year’s race, when he came out in front in the first leg and was racing for a comfortable win before abandoning the race because of a brake disk explosion. “I could have left here in the lead, but it is water under the bridge. I’m glad I can offer Prati-Donaduzzi both podium finishes today, for I know it is not easy to get it done in the same round,” remembered the driver from Curitiba, who lately has been receiving several support messages from Frenchman Nicolas Prost, with whom he divided the cockpit in the season opener in Goiânia.
Antonio Pizzonia, the driver from Amazonas, was not as lucky as his teammate. As expected, he made an excellent first half of the first leg, moving up from 19th place in the grid to 10th place at the time of the pit stop. Gradually, however, the car’s performance diminished and forced him to go into the pits to ascertain what was causing the engine to overheat. In the second leg, even though he started from the back of the grid, he plunged on aggressively again, overtaking several slower cars and even crossing the finish line in a creditable 13th place.