Kaufmann braves the rain

Wolfgang Kaufmann reaches the podium in the downpour at Dijon.

For the last round of the 2019 FIA Historic Formula 2 Championship, season, Wolfgang Kaufmann travelled to Dijon-Prenois in France. He was familiar with the 3.8 kilometer track near the mustard capital from his time in the FIA GT and French GT championships ØC challenging and fast, the track hugs the hills just the way „Piranha” likes it.

But even a seasoned professional can still learn a thing or two. For instance, the racing line around Dijon in the rain. „As funny as it may sound, I have never driven round here in the rain before”, Kaufmann admitted. From the outset, though, it worked rather well. After just a few laps on the wet asphalt, the German was able to match the fastest competitors' times, and put his Merch 782 BMW on the 4th starting position for the first race. „There may have been a little more in it, but on a racing line that was gradually drying up, I called it quits early to save the rain tyres for the race”, Wolfgang Kaufmann explained. 

It proved to be unnecessary, for this very race was to be the only one of the whole event to be run in dry conditions. As the lights turned to green, the 2 liter BMW engine in the back of Kaufmann's car seemed to be ill-adjusted for hard work in dry weather, and decided to run on only three of its cylinders only a few hundred meters into the race. A deeply disappointed Kaufmann had to call an early end to his race, and immediately started hunting the problem. As it turned out, cylinder 3 had not been fed any fuel. This was remedied in time for race 2 on Sunday where Kaufmann had to line up on the last row of the 31 car field. 

This time, the rgods were merciless, and the rain came down in buckets. Which gave Kaufmann the opportunity to show off his driving skill. The wet weather line he had worked out during practice was good enough to surprise a few of the experienced veterans of the FIA Historic F2 Championship. Over the course of 14 laps, Kaufmann made up place after place, and fought hius way into the top 10. Six laps before the end, when he was already scored in 2nd place, the BMW engine again developed a severe stutter. „I lost 5-6 seconds per lap, and I saw my podium result disappear”, Kaufmann tells us what went through his head at that time. But even in the midst of adversity, he was lucky. Three laps behind the safety car helped him secure P2. In the cool-down lap after the vhequered flag, the blue March 782 came to a halt with a dead engine...

„It was a superb end to an initially sketchy weekend”, the Formula 2 driver sums it up, „the track was a lot of fun even in the rain, and a win was within our reach. Now we are looking forward to the next season!”

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