Hanley targets podium on debut
|By James Gent||Sunday, September 5th 2010, 08:20 GMT|
Olympiacos stand-in Ben Hanley is chasing a podium finish in his debut Superleague Formula race after a strong qualifying performance put him fourth on the grid.
Hanley - one of four British drivers competing this weekend - is deputising for regular Olympiacos driver Chris Van Der Drift, who suffered multiple injuries in an enormous accident at the previous round at Brands Hatch.
Hanley remains cautious ahead of his first race start, but admitted that a podium finish is on his mind.
"I'm hoping for a podium," he told AUTOSPORT. "Fourth place: not bad for a starting position. But I'm going to see how it goes. It's a very tight pit entry, full lock and you just make it round the corner so it's going to be interesting in the race and there could be quite a lot of time to be had coming into the pits. Let's see what happens."
The Superleague newcomer surprised many in the paddock when he beat championship contender Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur) and race winner Tristan Gommendy (Galatasaray) in the group knockout stages, before very nearly defeating eventual pole winner Davide Rigon (Anderlecht) in their semi-final showdown.
"I had a slight problem with the brakes in the semi-final," Hanley explained. "I just didn't quite get them warm enough. I actually missed my braking point a little bit at Turn 1, so I was surprised to hear that I was up [by 0.116s] after the first sector. Then I had a little problem in the final two sectors with the brakes. But it comes with the experience of doing this one lap, one car against the other kind of thing. But it's a good result, so I can't complain too much."
Although without a regular drive this year, Hanley has been working hard developing the new GP2 car ahead of its 2011 race debut, a role he feels has benefited him this weekend.
"For sure that keeps me fit", he said. "It keeps the pace there and the long runs are quite useful. The new tyres, new car, new track: yeah, it's different but I've just got to try and adapt and do the best job I can.
"I don't want to do any kamikaze moves. I'm just here filling in for the race, so let's see how it goes and let's try to score Olympiacos some points."