Ralph top Koiranen GP driver in qualifying
Swiss ace completes great recovery from P18 to P9 in Sprint Race
On his return to GP3 Series action this weekend at Monza (September 2-4), Ralph Boschung showed he had not lost any of his pace, though the Swiss ace could not make the most of it at the Italian Grand Prix venue.
After a frustrating Feature Race on Saturday afternoon, Ralph bounced back with a storming drive through the field in Sunday morning’s Sprint event to recover from 18th on the grid to ninth at the flag.
At the fabled Cathedral of Speed, Boschung immediately showed competitive pace by setting the ninth fastest time in Friday afternoon’s free practice. Ralph built on these early promises the following morning by netting a fifth top-10 result in six qualifying sessions for him this year.
In this hotly contested affair, Boschung was the fastest Koiranen GP driver, lapping within two tenths of the front row. The 18-year-old may have actually placed higher on the Feature Race grid, had he not been forced to settle for a banker due to a late red flag period.
Carrying a penalty from the Hockenheim round, Boschung eventually lined up 13th on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed a solid getaway that saw him run on the cusp of the points-paying positions before an early Safety Car was deployed. Keen to scythe through the field, Ralph was immediately on the attack when racing resumed on Lap 4.
His determination unfortunately resulted in small contact with team-mate Matevos Isaakyan at the first chicane. Having dropped several positions as a result, Boschung lost further ground when he was handed a 10-second time penalty and had to settle for 18th at the end of the 22-lap contest.
Starting Sunday morning’s Sprint event from the same position, Ralph delivered one of his trademark first laps to rise all the way up 13th by the time the field roared on the main straight again.
Boschung astutely managed to keep his nose clean in what was a chaotic start to the 17-lap Sprint Race, moving up to 11th before the Safety Car was sent out to clear the debris that had littered the track. After racing resumed Ralph gained another position by overtaking Steijn Schothorst.
The Swiss youngster continued to make further headway as he jumped an out-of-shape Sandy Stuvik on the exit of Ascari. Having reeled in eight-placed Artur Janosz, Boschung hounded the Trident driver all the way to the finish line but eventually fell a mere 0.4s short of the final point on offer at Monza.
“Of course, the Feature Race incident is a blot on my Monza copybook,” declared Boschung. “On the approach to the first chicane, I took my usual line but had to go slightly left since we were three cars abreast. The kerb on the inside then sent me airborne and unfortunately I could not avoid Matevos. I duly apologised to him and Koiranen GP afterwards.
“I then decided to be cautious at the start of the Sprint event before gradually picking up the pace as the laps unfolded. It was a shame to finish so close to the points but I’d rather focus on my bouncing back and gaining nine positions after the Race One setback. Each GP3 Series weekend brings the opportunity to learn and improve and I’m glad I could show it on Sunday morning.
“More than ever, I would like to extend my warmest thanks to my sponsors and partners: the Valais-based building company CP3 and Patrick Polli, Moderntimes Hotel, Platinum Fighter Sales from Los Angeles, and PARC. Also, I’m extremely grateful to the members of 'Club 50' for their unwavering support and loyalty. Finally, I’d like to add a very special mention to Simon, Hugo and Léo, without their invaluable help I could not have raced at Monza this weekend.”
For the first time in its young history, the GP3 Series will head to the Sepang International Circuit, with the eighth and penultimate round of this year’s championship scheduled as a curtain raiser to the Malaysian Grand Prix (September 30 – October 2).
Image copyright: GP3 Series Media Service.