Thomas HylkemaWith just two events left in the 2011 GP3 Series, category rookie Thomas Hylkema is aiming for a strong conclusion to his maiden campaign in the FIA Formula One World Championship feeder class – beginning with a successful outing at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, 27th/28th August.

Spread over just four months, the GP3 season is a very short one and with the Dutch racer having only joined the championship in time for the fifth and sixth rounds at Valencia in Spain at the end of June he’s had less opportunity than most to acclimatise to his Dallara-Renault and its Pirelli tyres.

Even so, the Tech 1 Racing driver – who celebrated his 23rd birthday this past Saturday – has shown a good rate of improvement since his competitive debut. During the break since the previous event in Hungary, Thomas enjoyed a holiday in Sweden followed by a training camp in Austria and is now raring to go for the Spa races which will support the Belgian Grand Prix just a few days from now.

“I’m hoping to be much more relaxed and more self-assured going into the Spa weekend”, said the Delft-based driver, “I do know the track, I did one Formula Renault race there in 2008, but I haven’t been around Spa since then. I’m feeling quite curious how everything will work out, what the car will be like and how the weather will be – as always there will be a lot of factors to consider.

“It’s good to have had some time off since the last two rounds as it’s given me a good chance to look at how things have gone so far and where improvements can be made. Of course, it’d be nice to have some consistent weather so I can try and make as much progress as possible but you never know what it will be like at Spa. For us, the perfect conditions will be to have three fully dry days.”

In terms of highlights so far this year, the Dutchman’s best result came at Germany’s Nurburgring during round nine when he delivered a tremendous drive from the back of the 30-car grid to claim an 18th place finish in superb style. In a series renowned for its competitiveness, where only a second can cover the top 20 drivers, Thomas knows tiny improvements can have a huge impact on position.

This coming weekend’s action will mark only his fifth event of the year and with the championship finale taking place at Monza in Italy just under three weeks from now, Thomas is keen to put together a consistently strong conclusion to what has been a condensed 2011 campaign.

“Since Valencia we haven’t really had consistent weather so that has meant we haven’t been able to focus on a particular direction sometimes as I try to improve”, he added, “That has been a little bit frustrating for our first year in GP3 but hopefully we can have some consistency at Spa and then at Monza to end the season very positively.”

Pre-event practice at Spa-Francorchamps will take place this Friday, 26th August, at 08.45 (local time) with qualifying and round 13 following on Saturday, 27th August, at 08.45 and 17.20 respectively. On Sunday, 28th August, round 14 will get underway at 08.30 and will be screened live across Europe on the Eurosport television network – please check listings for full details.

Photo by GP3 Media Service.