Step One ambassadors experience challenging race weekend at Road America and Spa-Francorchamps
Step One Ambassadors Chandler Smith and Juan Manuel Correa hit the track in vastly different conditions and locations over the weekend. Smith competed at the classic Wisconsin-based road course, Road America in the bright sunshine, and Juan Manuel Correa took to the long-standing Grand Prix track widely known as the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit for a weekend of mixed weather conditions.
Juan Manuel Correa
Step One ambassador Juan Manuel Correa experienced a challenging FIA Formula 2 Championship race weekend at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. The American-Ecuadorian racer narrowly missed out on points in Sunday’s Feature Race but displayed admirable grit and determination at the Belgian venue. After impeding Jack Doohan in qualifying, JM was forced to start from 22nd for Saturday’s shorter Sprint Race but made a good start to rise to 19th during the opening phase. The Van Amersfoort Racing driver came out on top in an ongoing battle with Clement Novalak and Kush Maini over the opening laps and battled forward to 17th – a position he held to the checkered flag.
A disqualification for JM’s team-mate, Richard Verschoor, promoted him to 16th in the final Sprint classification. In a thrilling Feature Race, which was shaped early by damp track conditions, JM displayed a strong comeback performance but was unfortunately impacted by a penalty post-race. While JM kept his nose clean at the start, a collision between Dennis Hauger and Ayumu Iwasa led to an early Safety Car. On lap four’s restart, JM leapt forward, and by first passing Arthur Leclerc and continuing his battle, the 23-year-old was closing in quickly on the top 10. When the pit phase of the race opened, JM slotted into the points-paying positions before boxing for fresh tires himself. An incident with Jak Crawford, however, when running in ninth, led to a second Safety Car and after the restart, JM lost ground to slip outside of the top 10. JM finished 12th in the Feature Race but due to a 10-second time penalty for the incident with Crawford, finished 16th.
Step One ambassador Chandler Smith qualified for Saturday’s race at Road America in 16th position. At the start of the race when the green flag waved, he made quick work of moving up the field several positions, but soon found himself unable to maintain the fast-paced lap times. Less than ten laps into the race, he was in the position in which he began the race, reporting issues with his rear tires as a caution occurred due to a stopped car on the track. He received fuel, new tires, and an adjustment in air pressure. Chandler’s race restart was strong, but he was unable to hold position within the lap, however, overtakes did occur shortly after the fact as well as his top lap time thus far. Unfortunately, on lap 20 of the race, Chandler’s brakes failed as he went rapidly down the main straight. To avoid hitting the wall at turn-on head-on, in a quick-thinking maneuver the Kaulig Racing driver jolted his machinery into the wall on his left side and scrubbed off speed in the process, though the hit was still heavy, and his race finished. Chandler was checked and released from the infield care center, being classified in 37th place at the race end.
This weekend, Chandler Smith hits the track at Michigan International Speedway with NASCAR Xfinity and Romain Grosjean competes on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee with IndyCar.