Dario Cabanelas solid in daunting conditions

Published on Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Dario Cabanelas solid in daunting conditions

Famous for its thermal waters, the Belgian town of Spa was drenched from 18th to 20th of April as the eagerly-awaited opening of the 2024 Eurocup-3 Championship took place on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Extremely cold weather conditions, with showers of rain, hail and even snow, caused considerable disruption to the meeting. It was no weather to race single-seaters, so Qualifying and races were cancelled one after another. Nothing was easy for the drivers and their teams, who were dependent on the decisions of race direction. The one race that did take place enabled Dario Cabanelas to hold his own among 25 competitors and score his first Championship points, as well as finishing 2nd in the rookies' standings.

By choosing the prestigious Spa-Francorchamps circuit and the 12 Hours of Spa GT meeting, the Eurocup-3 organisers were hoping to launch the season with a bang. No doubt they weren't expecting to be subjected to the variable weather. And yet, on Thursday, private testing got things off to an enthusiastic start. For Switzerland's Dario Cabanelas, it was a beneficial day, as much for gaining experience as for gathering information.

"I didn't run much over the winter and it was important to build up the kilometres before really starting my season," said Dario. “I needed to get to know my environment better, the MP Motorsport team that has put its trust in me for 2024, my track engineer and all the other people around me. After all, I only contested four races in 2023 in Eurocup-3, so I'm still considered a rookie."

 

Unfortunately, the weather turned catastrophic on Friday in the Belgian Ardennes.

"The rain poured down. The organisers decided to cancel the two Qualifying sessions for safety reasons. The starting grid for Race 1 was set according to the results of Free Practice. The decision was a little unexpected, as Thursday's hierarchy was not really accurate. The drivers didn't all change to new tyres at the same time and we were more concerned with race preparation than with setting the fastest time possible. I ended up 8th out of 25 on the grid. This year, I'm aiming for the podium, so it was a bit frustrating not to have been able to fight for a better place".

 

As for the weather, Dario hadn't seen everything yet.

"Before we took to the track for Race 1, the weather seemed to have stabilised, even though we had to put on treaded tyres because the lines were still soaked. A few minutes before the start, we started to get hailstones, and then the rain started again. The start was given behind the safety car. It eventually pulled in, only to come back a lap later because of an incident in the pack. A new restart took place. Unfortunately, the downpour intensified and we ended up with a lot of aquaplaning due to the large amount of water on the circuit. Some drivers went off in front of and behind me, and it was getting really dangerous! Finally, the red flag was waved. The race didn't last very long and I was barely able to hold on to 8th place. In those conditions, it was really impossible to do any better, so the main aim was to avoid making any mistakes and bring the whole car back to the pits.”

 

Unfortunately, Dario didn't get the chance to improve his position, as the safety conditions weren't always in place on Saturday morning for Race 2, which had to be cancelled.

"With all the weather and sporting ups and downs, it was clearly a tricky meeting, with the possibility of retirement due to running off the road never far away. So scoring points was important. For the moment, I'm 8th in the Championship and 2nd in the Rookies. It's a start, but it's clear that I hope to be fighting at the front very soon".

At the next Eurocup-3 race on the Red Bull Ring in Austria? Verdict from May 17 to 19…

 

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