Nikov Time Defies All Comers, Wins Baku GP Pre-Q Race

Nikov Time went lights to flag in the second leg of Pre-Qualifying to ensure Team Astana Motors will partake in the rest of the Baku Grand Prix race weekend.

After barely missing out on advancing through the first leg of Pre-Qualifying, the Kazakh went into the Second Leg knowing that he only had to finish in the top eight to advance. With five minutes remaining in leg one the FIA Hill Climb Masters regular was fifth provisionally, before being bumped to ninth with seconds remaining by Shouta Sakai putting in a lap nine thousandths quicker than Time. Resulting in the Team Astana Motors car starting on pole position for leg two of the Pre-Qualifying process, the format making its return after seeing use in 2017.

Starting alongside Nikov Time on the front row was Lynxe driver Maria Rodriguez and in contrast to Time’s stellar opening laps, Rodriguez struggled in the opening portion of the thirty minute race. Time would open up a lead of seven seconds over Rodriguez in the opening 5 minutes of the race. But the advantage that the Hill Climb specialist would grow would start to dwindle as the race approached half distance because of Nikov Time overheating his tires in his attempted to break free. The rest of the field would close back in to the Scuderia Librizzi run Ferrari but over the whole thirty minute race, no one would be able to successfully make a pass on the Kazakh national and were ended up battling with each other more than they were with Nikov Time. As a result, Nikov Time would go largely uncontested to the win even though the margin of victory was half a second over Patrick Feldhoffer.

Only two of the drivers that started in the top eight failed to transfer from the second leg of Pre-Qualifying. The first to drop out of the top eight was Sam Winton after the engine in his Lister Storm failed only after two laps of running. The other driver to drop out of the top eight was Paul Jenkins after he had a scary moment at Turn 19. He got too close behind Feldhoffer in the battle for second place, lost aerodynamic grip and slapped the wall on exit of the turn. He then got ran into by the Boutsen Ginion Corvette of Eliana Diaz who had no where to go, resulting in a spin for Jenkins that he would never recover from.

The two drivers that would benefit from Winton and Jenkins’s misfortune were Melanie Bourne and James Wilmington, even though Wilmington finished ninth on the road. The Czechmate driver in his only appearance for the team this season would benefit from a 15 second penalty that was assessed to Alex Charpantier after he bumped Antonio Reyna-Sanchez into a spin on the last lap of the race. Both Charpantier and Reyna-Sanchez were in the top eight at the time of the incident, but finished the race fourteenth and eighteenth respectively.


Baku GP Pre-Qualifying Leg 2 Results – After 14 Laps

1701Nikov TimeAstana31:32.673
2453Patrick FeldhofferEuromotor+0.573
3348Artesia MassOran+0.729
446Eliana DiazBoutsen Ginion+1.132
5782Maria RodriguezLynxe+1.977
6777Andrea MassiniMinarae+2.436
73110Melanie BourneBoutsen Ginion+3.967
81711James WilmingtonCzechmate+4.900
9304Paul JenkinsGlobex Scorpio+6.010
103213Kjeld AxelsenRMR+11.198
111616Laurent SeronWestside+13.948
12917Michael RohnstockGB+16.665
1300714John MagnusFalken Tire+17.340
144413Alexandre CharpantierEuromotor+17.737
159818Claudio BandiniPeople's Republic+18.621
161120Rêdûr JafferBest In The World+19.044
179915Robert BlackPeople's Republic+20.954
185559Antonio Reyna-SanchezTom Douglas+21.739
191019Daniil KostovVA+23.770
20315Sam WintonWintonEngine

Fastest Lap – Car 34 (Oran Saleen – Artesia Mass) – 2:10.985