Cameron TwynhamCameron Twynham made the ideal start to his European F3 Open campaign at Paul Ricard on Saturday thanks to a hard-fought Copa Class victory in the opening round.

Driving a Team West-Tec-prepared Dallara F308, the 17-year-old from Market Harborough overcame challenging conditions in both qualifying and the race to bag 10 points on his Formula 3 debut at the former French Grand Prix venue.

Rain would characterise much of the championship’s opening weekend and it certainly played a part during qualifying for race one where the times tumbled throughout the session as the track dried. In the end Twynham would line up a decent third in class even though traffic on his fastest lap likely cost him pole position.

The fog that rolled in during the latter stages of qualifying had worsened sufficiently to start the afternoon’s 14-lap race behind the Safety Car. Once withdrawn, Twynham initially maintained position before slipping down to fourth.

His strategy prior to the race had been to hold back over the opening laps before attacking during the second half, and he executed that game plan to perfection by reeling in and passing the drivers ahead one after another. Having closed in on the class leader by the start of the final lap, he was perfectly positioned to pounce at the turn 9/10 chicane and claim a last-gasp victory on debut.

His elation would turn to frustration on Sunday however when a tyre gamble and set-up change ahead of the weekend’s second race backfired. Although wet, Twynham and Team West-Tec opted for slicks, hoping for the track to dry. But after toughing out the opening laps and starting to set fastest sector times he hit a puddle and span, dropping him to the back of the pack. Further rain just a few minutes later then necessitated a pit-stop, costing even more time and compounding a character-building afternoon.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with Saturday’s win,” said Twynham. “Our pace was very good in qualifying and when you look at the best sector times I should have been on pole and well amongst the newer Dallaras in the top-eight. Starting from third was no disaster though. The plan was always to bide my time and let the race come to me, which is exactly what happened. Taking the lead on the final lap was a great feeling and the perfect reward for everyone at Team West-Tec.

“Okay, Sunday didn’t pan out as well as it might have but that was because we went the wrong way with tyres and not an issue with raw pace. In those conditions sometimes it pays off spectacularly and others it doesn’t. But as a whole I’m delighted with the weekend and can take a lot of confidence into the next round.”

Despite his non-score in race two Cameron still sits second in the Copa Class standings ahead of the championship’s second round at Portimao in Portugal on May 11/12.