Roy Nissany couldn’t keep the smile off his face after executing a dream comeback in Sunday’s Feature Race. Going from P20 to P9 at the chequered flag, the DAMS driver believes that his decision to play the long game and steadily sneak his way up the order was key to his success in Le Castellet.
All the pieces seemed to come together for the Israeli driver, as he and teammate Ayumu Iwasa secured the French team’s third double points finish of the season. The only slight knock to his race was receiving a five-second time penalty for going off track and gaining an advantage, allowing Clément Novalak to jump above him into eighth.
Reflecting on an exhilarating race, Nissany was overjoyed at bringing home points in back-to-back rounds for the first time since Barcelona and was relieved that his patience paid off.
“It wasn't an easy one and I think strategy played a good role. It was all about the pace. Basically, like every other race, putting my head down and focusing on a good pace, overtaking car after car and again having the right strategy and a good pit stop. So altogether it came right - a good start where I gained some positions. It feels great to do this step after a bad Quali and to get such a recovery.
“We got a small penalty that hurt us for one place, we'll analyse it for ourselves later and see. But anyways, seeing now that our race pace is very strong and having Ayumu win, which is amazing for the team and amazing for him. Everybody here, especially him, deserves it so much. Having this kind of race pace, we have to make sure that we’re going to be spot on in Qualifying in Budapest."
Following a disappointing Qualifying and Sprint Race in which the Williams Racing Academy junior finished down in P16, his hopes of a top 10 finish rested on his potential to bounce back in the Feature event. Considering how fierce the battles had been the previous day, he knew that it would be one thing to fight through the field, but another challenge entirely to stay there.
Yet as the five lights went out, Nissany was in a league of his own. A blistering start allowed the Israeli driver to catapult himself up to P11 on the opening lap around the Circuit Paul Ricard and immediately engaged in a fierce wheel-to-wheel scrimmage with Campos Racing’ Roberto Merhi and Van Amersfoort Racing’s David Beckmann.
Opting for the steady approach and wary given how several moves further ahead had backfired for some rivals, Nissany made steady progress through the field before arriving on the gearbox of Jehan Daruvala. The two locked horns for several laps before the PREMA Racing driver eventually managed to hold him at bay, causing Nissany to pit and switch up his game plan in clean air.
“It was a great start, really rocketed off the line! Then I just tried to calmly and smartly do it one-by-one without going into the big mess. It worked because once you have the pace it just goes right. So, if we keep it this way, it’s more promising.
“There were two times battling with Jehan, each time when we were on a different tyre. On the first one, maybe I could have been a bit more aggressive, a bit more defensive and keeping my position to have a stronger result.
“The first fight I had Roberto in the back, and it was about to three-wide into Turn 10, so Jehan could take the position back. That was the situation that looking back, I wanted to put myself in clean air and could have gone even further forward but let’s not be too greedy! We can always look at some places to improve for small improvements. Jehan did a great job keeping me behind and then just maintaining, pitting to go again in the free air and putting the pace in the early laps after the pit stop to undercut or overcut. “
The battles weren’t over yet as Nissany was forced to go on the defensive from Richard Verschoor in the final handful of laps remaining. Capitalising on a slight mistake allowed the Trident driver to make his way past for eighth, until an issue forced him to ground to a halt on the last lap. While this problem promoted him back up a place, Nissany admits he was disappointed to miss out on the opportunity to duel with the Dutchman all the way to the finish.
“With Richard, I was trying to get a better pace. I went out a bit wide in Turn 2 and then Richard could catch me, but unfortunately for him he had a technical issue so I could get the position back. Although, I was very close so it could have been an interesting fight, but we’ll never know. Happy with my two points and looking forward to Budapest.”
Crucially for DAMS, its 30-point haul from the weekend courtesy of Iwasa’s sixth-placed Sprint Race finish and maiden Formula 2 win alongside Nissany’s result, has given the team a much-needed morale boost. The French outfit has leaped up two spots to sixth in the Teams’ Standings, six points ahead of Virtuosi Racing and Charouz Racing System.
Bouncing back after overcoming several pitfalls in the middle phsae of the 2022 campaign, Nissany is hoping that the team’s positive result will turn the tide and help it move forward as the Championship approaches the summer break.
“It's unbelievable! We really needed it because from after Imola and my mistake there, we've been a bit down all of us. It’s not really like we can just pump ourselves up with some pep talk and get back at it. You need these good results to feel it back again and now I’ve so happy. The team is back in the spirit and obviously me as well. Now it’s a second weekend in a row in the points again, not many maybe but it’s something and from there we’re going to go up.”