A DEFINITE podium was on the cards for Natasha Seatter today in race two of the Malaysia Super Series (MSS) at the 2014 Formula One Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix, until marshals signalled her for an unnecessary drive through penalty.
Starting the day in very good spirits, the team worked hard throughout the night to fit a new driveshaft to her Radical SR8, and a new roll bar for better handling. With the addition of new tyres Natasha was super confident of a strong finish despite starting from second-to-last, in 12th position.
What seemed a super start, Natasha immediately moved across to the racing line passing five cars and only being able to secure seventh spot due to being blocked by two cars, going into turn one.
With the top five getting off to a clean start and pulling away, Natasha negotiated her way around two more cars to move to fifth before the end of the first lap, only 3.7 seconds behind the battle for fourth.
The battle for first position between Phillip Callow and Malagamuwa was tensely close and had the potential for a big collision. In the meantime Natasha was having a close fight of her own with fourth place Moon Yeow, with Natasha cementing her dominance after lap two.
Finally the inevitable happened and second place runner Phillip Callow spun off and out of the race at turn 7, just like in race one, giving Natasha a boost to third.
With Natasha now in a strong third place and less than two seconds behind the top two runners and closing, Marshals signalled for Natasha to serve a drive through penalty for what Stewards considered was a jump start.
After the race it would be made clear that a stop-go penalty was not required and that the marshals had made a mistake by calling Natasha into the pits.
Adhering to the call immediately, Natasha served the penalty and re-entered the race back in 12th.
With five laps remaining Natasha powered on and was able to catch the back of the pack within two laps before finishing sixth overall and fourth in the MSS GT Open Class.
Although Natasha was clearly aggravated by the marshals mistake, this weekend has proved that she has the pace and skills to win more races and challenge for the MSS Championship.
Her strong performance this weekend will further fuel the rest of her year ahead, with drives in the Korean GT series, Audi R8 LMS Cup and Sepang 12 Hour.
“It’s so frustrating being told after the race that I didn’t have to come into the pits during the race. A simple 30 second time penalty was actually applied at the end. Everything was working perfect out there today and with the new tyres I was catching everyone quite easily,” said a disappointed Natasha.
“The positive thing is that we now know how fast the car is and that I can beat most of the field. Considering I only had a couple of laps in pre-season testing it was good to get back into racing and being able to do some passing.”