Weather forced some changes to the program for Day 2 of the Euroformula Open Winter Series event at Paul Ricard. The schedule single practice session in the morning started slightly late and was revised to two shorter sessions with qualifying also reduced to 20 mins.
The first practice session was wet and gave me the chance for more laps in these conditions and went well, ending up 5th on the timesheets even though there were multiple interuptions through red flags. The next was on a wet track again which was drying. This also went well and I was on a good lap to finish before another red flag cut that session short.
The 20 min qualifying session meant that there would be just the one run on a set of new tyres. The team held me in the pits for the first 5 mins to time my run so that the laps where my tyres were at their best would be right at the end when the track was at its best. This worked perfectly and I crossed the line with only a few seconds to spare to get my 7th lap in. My first two sectors of that lap were my quickest, and my third sector just a couple of tenths down on my best, putting me 9th on the grid out of the 15 car field.
Race 1 I got off the line pretty well, though a little wheel spin meant I dropped a couple of places into the first corner. With the racing still very close and tight I was battling close with Hann and Muller-Creppon and finished lap 2 in 13th place. From here I started to settle into a rhythm and in the following lap regained both of those positions with good overtaking moves and the following lap 2 more to be in 9th place by the end of lap 4. Lap 5 I gained another position and then set about catching my Russian team mate Alexey Chuklin, who I caught and overtook coming on to the straight starting lap 9. For the remainder of the race I was chasing 6th position, catching him gradually but he was around 6 secs in front. On laps 12 and 13 I put in 1:59.5’s and on the final lap my personal best of 1:59.4 to finish my first international race in 7th place!
Race 2 I was starting from 7th position on the grid, and I got away to a good start. The racing throughout the first half of the race was very close and I was battling constantly with Petru Floresue, Alexey Chuklin and Aldo Festante dropping or gaining positions to be in 9th place by the end of lap 11. For the final 3 laps from here I was all over the back of Chuklin but was unable to find a way past finishing the race in 9th.
I am very pleased with how I performed throughout the event amongst 15 of the best young drivers in the world from 14 different nations. There is so much I have gained from the experience, and I look forward to getting back to Fortec now in the UK to run through it all with the team to continue to learn and develop as quickly as I can.
Thank you as always to Mick, my engineer Tom and the team, my supporters behind my racing, and sponsors Lazersafe, High Energy Service, The Wealth Designers, ES2, Rosehill Waters – South Guildford, Edith Cowan University (ECU), Kingsway Community Bank Branch, Fullworks Fire Safety, Rvend Vending Machines, Grand Toyota Wangara, Online Logistics Solutions, Inspired Insurance Services, Focused Recruitment, Walker Wayland WA, F45 Training Hillarys and Trizone Fitness.
I have had amazing support from back home and other parts of the world online over the past few days which I really appreciate, so thank you to everyone for that as well.