|You’re unlikely to see Tom Boardman in an Italian restaurant any time soon, as food poisoning interfered with his first racing appearance at Monza. The talented 24-year old driver from Forton in Lancashire did fight back to finish the final two SEAT Leon Eurocup races of 2008 in 3rd and 4th positions, despite starting in considerable pain from 19th on the grid.|
Tom has a HGV licence and, unlike most racing drivers, prefers to drive his own truck to and from racing circuits. This inevitably means a few late night dinners in motorway service stations, and a plate of pork the day before testing was due to get underway at Monza crippled Tom. It’s the first time he’s ever been ill abroad, but with his first taste of the ultra-fast Monza circuit approaching, it could not have come at a worse time.
Tom did as many laps as he physically could in the two free practice sessions, but despite a lack of track time, a problem with the brake piston locking on and severe stomach pains he still qualified his Special Tuning UK Ltd-backed SEAT Leon Cupra 14th in a field of 31 cars. With a five grid slot penalty carried over from an incident in the previous SEAT Leon Eurocup race meeting at Oschersleben, this meant that Tom started the first race on Saturday (4th October) from 19th on the grid.
Tom made a brilliant start from the outside of row 10 and, with a positive nothing to lose approach, leapfrogged many of the cars ahead of him at the infamous Variante chicane, including series leader and arch rival Oscar Nogués. The Spanish driver then cut the chicane twice in order to overtake Tom, which went unpunished both times. Norbert Michelisz (Hungary) eventually won the race, followed by Nogués and a frustrated Tom.
Race 2 took place the following day (Sunday 5th October), which gave Tom another 24 hours to recover. He made another great start from the inside of row three to move from 6th to 4th at the first corner. He had also overtaken Nogués for the second time on the race to the Variante, but once again the Spanish driver cut the chicane to re-take the position away from Tom and then did it again to take the lead from Marin Colak (Croatia). Nogués and Colak finished 1st and 2nd in the race and tied on points at the top of the SEAT Leon Eurocup, and when Colak’s appeal over Nogués cutting the chicane was thrown out, Nogués was crowned champion by virtue of his greater number of race wins.
Tom had a great race for 3rd with Massimiliano Pedala (Italy). They were side-by-side coming into the Variante chicane at one stage and Tom locked his brakes and cut the corner, but sportingly gave the position back to Pedala – as indeed the rules stipulate you should. In the end Tom finished just three-tenths of a second behind Pedala.
Tom Boardman said: “I was so looking forward to racing at Monza for the first time, but getting food poisoning a few days before was a nightmare. I was really ill on Thursday and Friday, so I couldn’t do many laps in free practice. I didn’t feel that well on Saturday either, and with so little track time and a problem with the brake pistons sticking, I could only qualify fourteenth. With my five grid slot penalty from Oschersleben, that meant I was starting from the tenth row of the grid, so I had nothing to lose and decided to just go for it.
“I made a good start and managed to pick people off as they made mistakes ahead of me. Nogués made a bad start and I was ahead of him by the first corner. He cut the chicane to overtake me once, I got him back and he then cut the chicane to overtake me again. I was pleased to finish third after starting from nineteenth, but I was annoyed that Nogués had been allowed to keep his second place because how he’d overtaken me was completely unfair.
“The same thing happened in the second race. I made a good start and overtook Nogués before the first corner, but he cut the chicane to overtake me and then did the same to overtake Colak to take the lead. Colak appealed, but it was thrown out and Nogués won the title.
“I had a good battle in the second race with Pedala for third place. We were side-by-side at one stage and I locked my brakes and cut a chicane, but I eased off and gave the position back like you should. I finished the race in fourth, which wasn’t too bad.
“I’ve never experienced such a fast circuit as Monza and it was fantastic to race there. I had a look at the old track too, which must have been incredible to drive on. It’s a real shame the weekend started off with food poisoning, but I can’t wait to go back to Monza and race again. But next time I’ll be a lot more careful where I eat and make sure pork isn’t on the menu!”
SEAT Leon Eurocup final standings
1. Oscar Nogués…47pts
2. Marin Colak…47pts
3. Eoin Murray…37pts
4. Massimiliano Pedala…36pts
5. James Nash…36pts
6. Tom Boardman…35pts