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Archive for July, 2013

Seb Morris - Brands Hatch GPWelsh racing driver Seb Morris moved into second position in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship title race at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 27th/28th July, after a series of thoroughly consistent front-running performances – including his sixth podium of the campaign.

Finishing inside the top six in all three encounters at the 2.43-mile Kent track, the highlight of the fifth event of the F4 season for the 17-year-old was an impressive drive to second place in round 13 on Saturday afternoon, from sixth on the grid.

Although not quite unlocking his full potential in qualifying, Seb wasn’t too disappointed with a third row start and at the beginning of the opening encounter he made a fantastic launch from sixth place to leap into the top four.

Working hard to fend off the attentions of Matt Bell, the Marford racer was well in control and he remained in fourth until the last lap when a dramatic final couple of miles shook-up the order. With two of the lead drivers hitting problems, Seb was able to move through into second place to match his best finish of the season so far.

With the runner-up spot in race one equating to seventh on the grid for race two, with the top eight finishers from the opening encounter ‘reversed’, the Ginetta Ambassador instantly gained a place off the line and then set about pressuring the cars ahead. Forced to try and attack and defend at the same time in the middle of a tightly bunched pack, Seb held sixth throughout the 14-lap contest.

In the final race of the weekend, round 15, the Abbey Gate College student lined-up seventh on the starting grid again and, once more, moved into the top six on the first lap. Quickly moving into fifth on the second tour, following a problem for championship rival Jake Dalton, Seb then gained fourth position when another of his chief opponents, Charlie Robertson, spun into retirement at Sheene.

Sticking within half a second of the podium positions initially, Seb settled for fourth place in the end and underlined his strong pace with a best lap of 1m28.175 seconds – quicker than the fastest efforts of the top two podium finishers.

“I’m really happy with the weekend, the car was by far the quickest it’s been all year”, said Seb, “I didn’t hook it all up in qualifying unfortunately, but we still came away with second in race one. That compromised us on the reverse grid for race two and I had to conserve the tyres as well, so the top six there wasn’t too bad. Fourth then in race three was a good way to round-off the weekend.

“We’ve been really consistent all year and we showed that again this weekend. We just need a better qualifying, if I can get that sorted out then we know we’ve got the pace as one of the quickest packages out there.”

There are just three weeks to wait for the next event on the BRDC Formula 4 calendar with rounds 16, 17 and 18 taking place at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, the scene of a triple podium for Seb at the beginning of the season, on 17th/18th August. Television highlights of the Brands Hatch races, meanwhile, will be screened at 18.00 next Sunday, 4th August, on ITV4 and ITV4 HD.

Provisional 2013 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings (after Rd15):
2nd Seb Morris, 256pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Seb MorrisBritish Racing Drivers’ Club ‘Rising Star’ Seb Morris will arrive at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent this coming weekend, 27th/28th July, determined to secure his elusive first victory in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship as the second half of the category’s inaugural season gets underway.

Marford-based Seb, who has already tasted championship success in Ginetta Junior and Protyre Formula Renault in his young career, goes into the fifth race meeting of the F4 season third in the driver standings and within just 14 points of the series lead.

With five podiums to his credit so far, the 17-year-old Ginetta Ambassador has been unsurprisingly consistent and a title threat from the opening weekend of the season where he actually topped the points table after the first three rounds.

Although some misfortune along the way has hindered his attempts to win more silverware – not least a costly non-finish in round five following a tangle with a rival when F4 last visited Brands Hatch back in May – the Welsh racer has remained squarely in the title picture throughout.

While the Indy Circuit experience at Brands Hatch earlier in the season may not have been as Seb and the Hillspeed team wanted, determination is high to battle for more podiums and mount a bid for a maiden race win as F4 visits the longer Grand Prix configuration for the first time.

“I’m really looking forward to going back to the Grand Prix circuit at Brands”, said Seb, “I won there in Formula Renault last year [en-route to claiming the Winter Series title] and it’d be great to take my first Formula 4 win there too.

“It’s been a challenging season so far, we started on the back-foot without much in the way of testing and we’ve had some problems getting the tyres switched on as well. Taking all of that into account though, we’re still in the championship top three and not far away from the lead which is a strong position to be in at the halfway point of the season.”

Since the previous three rounds at Seb’s ‘home’ track, Oulton Park, just over a fortnight ago, the Abbey Gate College student has been busy raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity as part of a 700-mile cycle ride around the circumference of Wales.

Embarking on the physically demanding journey the day after the Oulton Park race meeting, Seb, his father Phillip and best friend Matt Groome completed their challenge within nine days and have, to date, managed to raise 165% of their target total – equating to almost £1,200 for GOSHCC.

“We had an amazing time during the cycle ride, it was unbelievably challenging – especially in such hot weather – but a real achievement”, added the Welshman, “On behalf of my dad and Matt, we want to say a massive thank you to everyone who donated money to Great Ormond Street. We’re all hugely grateful and delighted we could do our bit for such an amazing charity.”

Anyone who would like to make a post-cycle ride donation to this most worthwhile of causes is welcome to visit http://www.justgiving.com/SebMorris-MattGroome

Returning to Formula 4, free practice and qualifying will take place at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit on Saturday, 27th July, with round 13 following at 16.45. On Sunday, 28th July, round 14 is scheduled to start at 10.45 with round 15 expected to commence at 14.50. Television highlights of the Brands Hatch races will be screened the following Sunday, 4th August, at 18.00 on ITV4 and ITV4 HD.

Provisional 2013 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings (after Rd12):
3rd Seb Morris, 198pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Gabby ChavesThe quest for a Firestone Indy Lights title resumed in fine fashion for Gabby Chaves on Saturday (July 13), with another trip to the podium in Round Eight on the streets of Toronto, Ont. Further highlighting his skills behind the wheel, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports standout not only briefly challenged for the win in the series return to street racing, but overcame a gearbox issue to earn a third place finish and his third consecutive visit to the post-race celebrations. Chaves, having now finished among the top-three in six of the eight races contested, is third in the championship fight entering the upcoming August race in Ohio.

While Chaves has enjoyed good success in the recent Indy Lights run of oval races, standing on the podium in three of the four races, the 19 year-old was excited to get back to turning both left and right on the streets of Toronto.

With an eye on qualifying and the 50-lap race, Chaves spent the two opening practice sessions around the 1.755-mile streets circuit within the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds working on the setup of his No. 7 Coldeportes / Marca Colombia / RedServi / Tecpro entry. The plan ultimately paid good dividends, as Chaves posted the third best lap in qualifying, earning an inside row two starting position for the Saturday afternoon race.

When the green flag waved to get the action underway for the lone stop ‘North of the Border’ in bright sunshine, Chaves got a great launch, slotting into second place. The ‘Take 5 To Stay Alive. Don’t Text & Drive’ spokesperson and Safety Ambassador of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability promptly pushed on cold tires attacking the race leader for the top spot. Unable to execute a move position in the early stages, Chaves settled into a fast, but comfortable pace in effort to save his car and tires for a late race charge. While he subsequently came under pressure from the third place driver, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports racer was poised to take home a well deserved runner-up finish when he suddenly lost second gear. Not surprisingly, the mechanical issue severely hampered Chaves overall pace. Chaves, despite the setback, retained the P2 position for multiple laps, before ultimately relinquishing the place. Remaining focused on running mistake-free over the course of the final few tours, Chaves in the end crossed the line in third place, extending his streak of podium finishes to three.

Chaves now has brief break before returning to the cockpit of his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports racer on August 3-4, when Round Nine of the Firestone Indy Lights title fight takes place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The highly-regarded race pilot travels to the technical Ohio road course sitting third in the championship standings.

Jono LesterKiwi endurance driver Jono Lester returns to Japan this weekend for the third round of the 2013 Super Taikyu Series at Twin Ring Motegi.

Lester will tackle this weekend’s 5-hour race alongside regular team mates Tatsuya Kataoka (JAP) and Fariqe Hairuman (MAL) in the #28 PETRONAS Syntium Team Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, returning to the more familiar endurance format after the recent Korean sprint event.

The 23-year old leads the Super Taikyu Series after a clean sweep of wins in Korea, and is firmly focused on consolidating and extending that gap at the high speed Motegi circuit, run within the banked curves of the popular Indycar oval.

“We have positive momentum after Korea, and the key now it to ride the wave and maximise our advantage at Motegi,” Lester commented.

The pair of PETRONAS Syntium Team cars will come under threat from a gaggle of GT3 rivals from marques such as Nissan, Audi, BMW and Porsche. Included in the grid is the high profile addition of former Le Mans 24 Hour winner Seiji Ara, driving an Audi R8 LMS.

Lester admits the layout of the Motegi circuit may suit rival machinery a little more than the long-snouted Mercedes-Benz.

“I enjoyed Motegi last year and did many laps there in both wet and dry. It’s a stop-start circuit and this may be to the benefit of the likes of Nissan and Porsche, whereas the SLS AMG is more suited to flowing circuits.

“Nevertheless, endurance racing is more than just being fast on a single lap. Strategy will come into play again with a 5 hour race, and fitness will be key in remaining consistently quick to challenge for victory.”

The Motegi event marks the first of eleven for Lester in the space of 15 weeks, driving in the Super Taikyu Series, V8 SuperTourers and South Island Endurance Series. At the conclusion of the regular season, his focus will turn to his competitive debut in the D1NZ Drifting Championship Pro Class over the summer.

Lester is supported throughout the 2013 season by key partners including Vortex Racewear, Purechoice New Zealand, Lero Trading, R Redpath Limited, Opti-Flex, Fastway Couriers, Robbie Bird Wines, CRC MotorNews.co.nz, Mako Networks, iSign it, Sony New Zealand, Sony Xplod, ThrillPledge and Webdesign.

More details about Jono and his season can be found at www.jonolester.com, or by following ‘Jono Lester’ on Facebook or @jonolester on Twitter. Join the conversation using the hashtag #flyingkiwi on social media.

Follow the action from your smartphone by downloading the free Jono Lester app, simply by visiting http://jonolester.appguppy.com from your iPhone or Android device.

Cameron TwynhamTwo superb runner-up spots on home turf at Silverstone last weekend helped British racing driver Cameron Twynham close to within just six points of the European F3 Open Copa Class championship lead.

Cheered on by over 120 supporters at a circuit that lies just 30 miles south of his home in Market Harborough, the 17-year-old was able halve the points’ deficit with a pair of strong drives aboard his freshly green-liveried Team West-Tec Dallara F308 following the completion of a new sponsorship deal with Geodis Wilson.

Starting from third in Saturday’s race, Twynham was made to work hard for his first second place of the weekend around the full British Grand Prix layout. A typically brisk getaway initially helped him move up a position before surrendering the place at Stowe after running wide and losing momentum through the fast right-left-right Maggots/Beckets chicane.

When it became clear that the driver ahead would not voluntarily concede the place despite making his move under yellow flags, Twynham went on the attack by sliding down the inside at Brooklands on lap four and pulling clear. With the championship leader delayed behind and first place by now comfortably ahead, Cameron was content to settle for yet another podium and strong points.

A tough second qualifying session saw Twynham line up fourth for the weekend’s second race on Sunday. Once again he was able to immediately pick up a place at the start before also taking second, albeit in unorthodox fashion across the grass at Farm Curve, just two corners later.

His charge continued further round the lap when he looked for a way past the leader into Vale, but lost momentum and dropped back a little. And when he became stuck behind one of the newer and faster 2012-spec cars, his victory chances were effectively ended. Nevertheless, another second place finish and 11th podium of the season still represented the best combined weekend result of his Copa Class campaign thus far.

“It’s been another ultra-consistent weekend and even though I couldn’t thank everyone who came to support me by taking a win, it’s just as important to look at the bigger picture: halving the championship lead is really important with just three rounds remaining,” said Twynham. “We struggled a little bit for outright speed in practice and qualifying but our race pace was much better and allowed me to pick up a few places. It was a bit frustrating to be held up by the 2012-spec car in race two as I felt we had a good chance of going for the win. By the time I got past the gap was just too big, so instead of pushing and potentially making a mistake I settled for the strong points. If we can produce a similar result at the next round then this year’s championship should go down to the wire.”

Twynham and the European F3 Open now take a two-month break before resuming at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on September 7/8.

For regular updates don’t forget to follow Cameron on Twitter and Facebook: @CameronTwynham / www.facebook.com/CameronTwynhamRacing

Scott MalvernIt was a return to winning ways for Barkingside’s Scott Malvern in his first race for almost four months. Scott received a surprise last minute call up to compete in the guest car in the Ariel Atom Cup at Oulton Park in Cheshire last Saturday. He was thrown in at the deep having to learn how to familiarise himself with the space frame two seater in the twenty minute morning qualifying session against the championship regulars who had all had the benefit of testing at the circuit the day before.

After a steady start Scott began to post some quick times towards the end of the session, good enough for an encouraging 4th place on the grid, but was prevented from going quicker still by an overheating engine as track temperature soared on the hottest day of the year so far.

In race one he settled in for a couple of laps before successful overtaking moves for third and then second place. By this time regular series winner Nick Whitehead had opened a sizable gap in the lead but Scott began to eat into it significantly reeling off several fastest laps and the eventual fastest lap of the race overall. Unfortunately Whitehead had enough in hand to hold Scott’s advance until the end of the twenty minute race by which time Scott had pulled well clear of the battle for third place.

For race two later in the afternoon the top six of the grid were reversed so Scott had to start from grid five with Whitehead on grid six. Scott made an excellent start and quickly moved from fifth to second place over the course of the first lap and then moved into the lead on lap two and began to pull a gap over the rest of the field.

Unfortunately at this point the safety car had to be deployed owning to an incident involving three cars further down the field and the experienced Whitehead who had been able to push through to 2nd place would take the restart on Scott’s tail. But Scott was wise to this and an ambitious move trying to overtake Scott on the outside saw him run wide onto the grass and Scott pulled away into a comfortable and seemingly unassailable lead of over five seconds.

But gearbox problems for Scott saw him slow dramatically over the last two laps and the hard charging Whitehead was able to close right up but Scott used to cut and thrust of single seater racing wasn’t going to leave a gap for Whitehead to get through and held on to take an impressive debut victory in the class.

Afterwards Scott said “I’d really like to thank Mark Harrison and the Atom Cup organisers for inviting me along today. This is a great way to go racing and I’ve really enjoyed myself with some great people and great competitors. I’d like to wish them all a very happy and successful rest of the season”
For more information on Scott Malvern visit www.scottmalvern.com or contact Stopwatch Management 07956885851

Felix RosenqvistFelix Rosenqvist maintained his strong form in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the Norisring this weekend, as he brought home two second-place finishes and racked up his sixth win of the campaign to make further inroads into overall leader Raffaele Marciello’s advantage at the top of the standings.

Rosenqvist – who arrived at the Nuremberg street circuit fresh from his historic second Masters of Formula 3 win in the Netherlands last weekend – took the chequered flag in second place in both of Saturday’s two races, before going on to overtake Marciello in a battle for the lead and break away to victory in Sunday’s concluding event. Before that, the 21-year-old Swede had underlined his pace by grabbing pole position in an exceptionally closely-fought qualifying session on Friday afternoon, in which he headed the timesheets with the ungraspable margin of just 0.001 seconds.

On his way to victory on Sunday, the Mücke Motorsport man yet again established another new lap record, meaning he now holds the current all-time Formula 3 benchmarks at no less than five international circuits in four countries. Rosenqvist’s performance came under mental strain, after he initially had to race under threat of disqualification following a suspected irregularity concerning a fuel sample. The FIA, however, eventually confirmed no wrongdoing, with Rosenqvist keeping all results.

“This weekend has been a bit of a psychological roller-coaster; and that makes me rate this win, and these results, very highly,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “After all that’s happened, it would have been easy to get distracted, but at the end of the day I go away from here with three podiums, one win and a new lap record – and I couldn’t have asked for more. To add to that, Norisring isn’t my favourite track on the calendar, so to actually be able to close the gap on Raffaele in the championship is more than I expected. The team once again gave me a fantastic car, and we have set ourselves up strongly for the final part of the season as we head to a number of circuits that I really enjoy. This has been a very special weekend, and one that I’ll never forget!”

Felix Rosenqvist now sits just 24.5 points adrift of Marciello in the overall FIA Formula 3 European Championship standings. The next round of the campaign sees the series remain on German soil, as it pays its annual visit to the Nürburgring on August 16-18.

Photo by Mattias Persson / Motorsport Publication.

Gabby ChavesThe first Firestone Indy Lights visit to Pocono Raceway in over 20 years proved to be another highly successful affair for rookie standout Gabby Chaves. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports racer further solidified his place as title contender on Saturday (July 6) in Round Seven, earning his second consecutive trip to the post-race podium, and fifth top-three finish of the season. Chaves, who is currently third in the points chase, is now poised to continue his recent run of form on Saturday (July 13) in Toronto, Ont., when Rounds Eight is contested on the streets around the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.

Bringing the mid-season oval run to a close, the skilled Indy Lights field traveled to eastern Pennsylvania to race at the 2.5-mile Pocono tri-oval. For Chaves, the first series visit to the historic track in over two decades was yet another opportunity to further showcase his talents and build on a recent run of races that has seen the No. 7 Coldeportes/Marca Colombia/RedServi/Tecpro pilot standing on the post-race podium in two of the past three oval races.

Chaves wasted little time getting up to speed on the large unfamiliar track, posting the third best time in testing. He further moved up one more place on the scoring charts in the lone practice run. Chaves continued to be one of the drivers to watch come single-car qualifying, ultimately securing a row two starting position via the third best two-lap combined time.

With the entire Indy Lights event packed into one day, Chaves and the rest of the field were back behind the wheels a short-time later. Immediately upon the green flag waving, Chaves slotted into second place, just ahead of one his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates. From that point forward, the 19 year-old engaged in what was the best fight for position in the race. Lap after lap, Chaves dueled his teammate for the runner-up spot. Highlighted by four passes for position in the final 10 laps of the 40-lap affair, that included some light contact, Chaves ultimately crossed the line in third, just tenths behind his teammate.

Chaves has little time to reflect on yet another trip to the podium, as the Firestone Indy Lights title chase immediately resumes with Round Eight in Toronto, Ont. The action at the 1.755-mile street circuit commences on Friday (July 12), with two 40-minute practice runs. Saturday (July 13) features a morning qualifying session, followed by the race at 11:45 am local time. Live timing and scoring will be available at racecontrol.indycar.com. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Chaves enters the lone race in Canada third in the championship chase.

Photo by Ron Bijlsma.

Cameron TwynhamCameron Twynham lines up for his home European F3 Open round at Silverstone this weekend (July 13/14) hopeful of closing the gap further at the top of the Copa Class standings.

Fortunately the 17-year-old can count on the support of over 100 family, friends and sponsors at the British Grand Prix venue that lies only 30 miles from his home in Market Harborough. Their collective support, allied to Twynham’s recent F3 experience of Silverstone, makes this the ideal opportunity to cut the 12-point deficit he currently trails the Copa Class leader by.

Consistency has played an important role in his 2013 campaign thus far, with nine podium finishes – including three at Silverstone in May when making a guest appearance in the British F3 Championship – from a total of 12 races.

And Twynham has no plans to alter that approach this weekend.

“Consistency has been a key part of my success this year and I’m of the view that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” he explained. “Winning races is obviously the goal but sometimes, for various reasons, you have to accept that doing so isn’t possible. I’ve learnt that lesson and taken it onboard this year, which is why we’re right in the title fight with four rounds remaining. When you consider there are 20 points available per weekend the championship is still wide open.”

Despite his home’s proximity to the circuit, Twynham had never raced at Silverstone until earlier this year in British F3. And though the tyre suppliers are different, he’ll have the same Team West-Tec-run Dallara F308 at his disposal this weekend as the one he scored a hat-trick of rostrums with two months ago.

“Silverstone’s full GP circuit is pretty demanding, but I felt really happy with the car when we raced there even though I was learning the circuit lap-by-lap. We might have to make some adjustments for the difference between British F3’s tyre supplier and the Dunlops we race with in F3 Open, but I can’t see it being too much of an issue. The bottom line is that we already have a good set-up that will allow us to hit the ground running.”

Almost a month will have passed between F3 Open rounds when Twynham takes to the track on Friday, but that’s not to say that the young Brit hasn’t been working hard in the meantime.

“The training never stops,” he confirms. “Whether that’s physical work in the gym or on the simulator at iZone Performance, I’m always looking to stay match fit. Last week for instance I was at the British Grand Prix, not to enjoy the Formula 1 but instead study the younger drivers in GP3. Nothing beats driving but you can learn a lot from watching how a car behaves and what others are doing through a corner if you change perspectives. The same goes for overtaking opportunities, although hopefully I won’t need to make too many of those this weekend!”

Silverstone weekend schedule

Friday 12 July:
Free Practice 1: 09.00 – 09.30
Free Practice 2: 11.45 – 12.15
Free Practice 3: 16.15 – 16.45

Saturday 13 July:
Qualifying 1: 11.00 – 11.30
Race 1: 15.00 (15 laps)

Sunday 14 July:
Qualifying 2: 09.00 – 09.30
Race 2: 13.15 (15 laps)

For regular updates don’t forget to follow Cameron on Twitter and Facebook: @CameronTwynham / www.facebook.com/CameronTwynhamRacing

Adrian Quaife-HobbsAdrian Quaife-Hobbs suffered mixed emotions in the sixth round of the 2013 GP2 Series at the Nurburgring this weekend. Arriving at the track, located in the Eifel mountains of Germany buoyed by a recent strong form, the BRDC Superstar headed into the event looking for a good result to boost his championship bid.

A strong pace by the reigning AutoGP World Series Champion netted the 11th fastest time in free practice, the 22 year-old happy with his pace and confident ahead of qualifying later that day. Taking to the track for qualifying Quaife-Hobbs was immediately on the pace posting the sixth fastest time on his first set of tyres. On his cool down lap, an ever-improving performance saw him already up in the first sector, but as he headed for his second flying lap, he caught traffic, dropping him to seventh.

Lining up on the inside of row four for Saturday’s opening counter, disaster struck with a rare error which caused him to stall at the lights. Before he could get away, the car of Kevin Ceccon, already engaged in a barrel roll after a collision with another car, ploughed into the back of the stricken MP Motorsport car, ruling Quaife-Hobbs out of contention.

Although himself uninjured, his car required extensive repairs ahead of Sunday’s sprint race, the team working into the night to fix the right rear corner and replace damaged bodywork.

Starting the race this morning from the back of the grid, Quaife-Hobbs knew it would be a tough challenge to make any headway to the front, however he also knew he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. At the lights Quaife-Hobbs made a good start to gain five places, however brake and steering problems as a result of his first race accident, prevented him from capitalising on his true potential, eventually place 16th at the flag.

“Overall there are a lot of positives to take from the weekend,” said Quaife-Hobbs. “We had great pace in both practice and qualifying, but unfortunately I caught a lot of cars on my quick lap, without which I’m sure could have netted the third fastest time. However I lost the advantage I had with the traffic, but we’ve proved once again we are able to fight for the top spot.

“Race one was naturally disappointing. I made a rare error at the lights and stalled, and once I was hit up the back, there was too much damage to continue. Thankfully we both managed to get out uninjured, however my car was pretty badly damaged too.

“In the second race the car didn’t handle as well as it should, mainly the braking and steering, which prevented me from capitalising on my good start. I made up around five places, but the problems, which although weren’t detrimental to safety, nevertheless affected the performance.”
Quaife-Hobbs now enjoys a three-week break ahead of the next round of the GP2 Series at the Hungaroring, Budapest on 27&28 July, where he aims to put his knowledge of the track to good use in his bid for maiden GP2 victory.

For more information visit www.quaifehobbs.com and follow the latest news and live timings on www.gp2series.com.