INTERNATIONAL
Wednesday, Feb 14 04:36pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Chris van der Drift to race against F1 star Felipe Massa in Brazil

Chris van der Drift is set to race in one of the most unlikely parts of the world this year, with a one-off appearance in Stock Car Brasil.


He’ll race against the likes of ex-Formula 1 drivers Felipe Massa, Felipe Nasr, Rubens Barrichello, and Nelson Piquet Jr.


Effectively the equivalent of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Stock Car Brasil is now in it’s 40th season. In total there are 16 teams and over 30 drivers that contest the single make series.


The season opener, which van der Drift will race in, sees full time drivers paired with a wildcard preferably from another country, in what is a showcase of the championship.


Teams and drivers run a Chevrolet Cruze Stock Car. The car is best described as a crossover between Supercars and DTM with a V8 engine and moderate to high downforce.


It’s not the first time van der Drift has raced in the series. In 2015 he raced for União Química Racing with Tuka Rocha. The Brazilian driver Rocha invited van der Drift to come and race with him after they met during the Superleague Formula era between 2008 and 2011.  


Having made a guest appearance back in 2015, Rocha approached van der Drift again this year to see if he was interested in coming back.


“He messaged me not too many weeks ago and was talking about it again for this year’, van der Drift told velocitynews.co.nz.


“I was like ‘yeah, that’d be cool.’ I didn’t think anything of it really and then just last week he was like 'it’s all on.’


“It literally happened as quick as that. I didn’t hear from him for a couple of weeks and thought it wasn’t going to happen. Then they rang me and said it’s all sorted.”


Instead of racing with Rocha, van der Drift will pair up with Rocha’s Vogel Motorsport teammate Gabriel Casagrande.  


Uploaded Image

A render of the car van der Drift will race with over in Brazil


The drive is placed perfectly in van der Drift’s calendar. A week after he races in Brazil he’ll fly to Shanghai for Porsche Carrera Cup Asia pre-season testing.


He said the driving style of the car is like nothing he’s ever driven before.


“You sit over the rear axle, so you sit in the back seat. The dash is super long and really far to the front of the car, which is quite different.


“It’s quite cool. The last time I jumped in I really enjoyed it.”


While the drive is a bit of fun on the side for van der Drift, he knows he’s probably has the pace to be competitive.


“Last time out my teammate got involved in a crash at the start so we had some bodywork damage, but I drove at the end and I was just as quick as the front runners.


“We came out just back in front of the leaders. I was about to get lapped, but I managed to stay with them the whole race. I thought they were going to piss off into the distance, so that was quite cool.


“It’s a cool championship. Not many people know about it, but it’s a little bit like NASCAR in America or Supercars in Aussie. It’s got a massive following in Brazil.


“There’s heaps of cars and heaps of people there.”


Despite its relative low stature in the scope of world motor racing, the championship has played host to several high profile motor racing names. Former Brazilian Formula 1 drivers Antônio Pizzonia, Ricardo Zonta and Rubens Barrichello have all been regulars in the series.


Tickford Racing’s Mark Winterbottom was a standout performer when he raced in the series three years ago. He managed to finish second in the wildcard race.


The first round of the championship, held at Autódromo José Carlos Pace (Interlagos), takes place early next month.


This year Dutch drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen and Nicky Catsburg will race alongside van der Drift.


Round one of Stock Car Brasil takes place on March 10 at the same circuit where the Brazilian Grand Prix is held.


Photos: Rodrigo Guimarães HD


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