|After leading race 2 in the Formula Le Mans Series at the Autódromo Internacional Algarve Motorsport complex in the far south of Portugal, the Boutsen Energy Racing pairing of Dominik Kraihamer and Johan-Boris Scheier suffered an electrical failure that forced the number 5 car to retire with only four laps remaining. The third round of the 2009 championship was part of the program at the ‘1000km of Algarve’, as a support class to the Le Mans Series night race.|
It was a disappointing result for the 19-year old Salzburg driver, after his Boutsen Energy team-mate had qualified on the front row 0.6 seconds behind GP2 driver Jerome d’Ambrosio (Dams) and had the perfect start to take the lead in Sunday’s race on the first corner. At the half-way mark, Kraihamer took over the driving duties, but as he exited the pitlane D’Ambrosio’s team-mate and fellow GP2 competitor Samuele Buttarelli assumed the lead.
In only his second FLM meeting Kraihamer (The austrian also does karting) was able to match the pace of the Italian, who’d set the best lap overall in qualifying, with a 12-second gap to the third-placed car of series leaders Nico Verdonck and Gavin Cronje (Dams). “Suddenly there was a problem with the gear change” explained the Austrian, “I couldn’t shift anymore and after another lap, the car just rolled to a standstill. It was really disappointing because we had the pace and were almost certain of a podium.”
Temperatures soured well into the 40s during for the free practice and qualifying sessions on the track that's likened to a "roller coaster" due to its undulating nature. With a competitive 24-driver line-up, Kraihamer went into the event confident that he and his French team-mate could be in the top 3, while also gaining valuable experience in his preparation for the following season.
“It’s my first time here at Algarve and it’s a pretty amazing circuit. There are many corners without much visibility so I think it’s a bit dangerous for the racing. It’s all still very new for me, as I drove the car for the first time at Le Mans back in June, but I am slowly finding my feet and continually learning; with every lap we make progress.”
Saturday saw the first of the Formula Le Mans one-hour races for the weekend, with Kraihamer off row 3 after he qualified 5th in his group. While attempting to overtake on lap 7 for P4, he collided with a car coming out of a blind corner which had crashed just prior. The team was able to repair the car, but a drive-through penalty resulting from the driver change following, added to the lost time. The partnership of Kraihamer and Scheier recovered well to take 6th at the chequered flag with the third best laptime of the race.
Kraihamer admitted it was a challenging weekend in Portugal, although he once again enjoyed racing the FLM Prototype and was happy with the overall performance of the car otherwise. “Right up until the crash, the car was going well and I could keep up with the guys at the front. It was a situation that I couldn’t avoid unfortunately, especially on this circuit, but at least there was not much damage so we could stay in the race. Johan is a good driver and did a great job, as did our team at Boutsen Energy. It’s really a shame that we were unlucky not to have a better result.”