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Archive for October, 2013

Rahul Raj MayerRace-winning BRDC Formula 4 Championship team Hillspeed is delighted to confirm its first driver signing for the 2014 season having today, Monday, 28th October, agreed a deal for Malaysia’s Rahul Raj Mayer to remain with the squad for a second season in the category.

Kuala Lumpur 17-year-old Mayer made good progress during his maiden campaign on UK soil this year in Formula 4, achieving three top 12 finishes and ending the season 17th overall in the driver standings out of 28 competitors.

Prior to arriving in BRDC Formula 4 at the beginning of the inaugural season this year, Mayer enjoyed good success in the Middle East-based Formula Gulf 1000 Championship where he raced to no fewer than eight podium finishes from 12 race starts, including two victories.

Before electing to pursue a career in single-seaters, the Malaysian competed in a variety of karting categories across the Far East and Asia. He also dabbled in open category saloon cars where, in 2011, he was Vice-Champion in the Malaysian Super Series Classic Car Challenge with several podiums.

“It’s fantastic news Rahul is remaining a Hillspeed driver for 2014 and we’re all looking forward now to embarking on a strong winter testing programme”, said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “It’s always great to keep continuity with young drivers, the aim is to obviously build on everything Rahul learnt this season and help him become a top 10 regular in the championship next season.

“He produced some excellent performances this year, as part of a very strong grid of talent, so we’ve got high hopes for 2014. With knowledge of all of the main UK circuits, and a year’s experience of the F4 car and the Yokohama tyres, we’re sure Rahul will be a strong competitor next season.”

Mayer’s father, Rajinder, added: “We were very happy with Rahul’s progress in the first season of Formula 4. Hillspeed has given him the full support and training required in very short spans of time during race weekends, as Rahul travels from Kuala Lumpur to the UK for every race. Although testing time has also been limited for that reason, the team’s dedication and experience has given Rahul a good start in 2013. We are convinced Hillspeed will continue to deliver in 2014.”

Off the back of championship glory in Protyre Formula Renault, the Formula Renault UK Winter Series and Ginetta Junior Championship in recent years, Hillspeed arrived in Formula 4 at the start of the year determined to maintain its reputation as a winning force.

The Hathersage team did precisely that by taking Seb Morris to the Vice-Champion’s position, with the Welshman accruing one race win and nine other podiums over the course of 2013, while Struan Moore also visited the top step of the podium once and took three further rostrums on his way to ninth place in the championship.

With Mayer confirmed for 2014, Hillspeed is now keen to fill its two other seats for the second season of BRDC Formula 4 Championship action and is also welcoming enquiries from drivers with regard to the upcoming Winter Series which begins on 9th/10th November at Snetterton in Norfolk and concludes over the weekend 23rd/24th November at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Sandy StuvikThe European Formula 3 Open championship leader Sandy Kraokaew Stuvik from Thailand has confirmed that he has signed a contract with the Italian Rapax Team to test a GP2 formula car in Abu Dhabi, on 5th and 6th of November, following the Emirati Formula 1 round at the Yas Marina Circuit. The GP2 test will be held together with the yearly Formula 1 Young Driver test.

The GP2 series Dallara formula car produces 612 HP from a 4 liter V8 engine and is only marginally slower than a Formula 1 car. Consequently the GP2 series is considered one of the main learning series for drivers going to Formula 1. The Thai driver tested last week in Dallara’s simulator in Parma, Italy and was put through numerous aerodynamic scenarios and settings to familiarize himself with the car. Both the team and Stuvik were very encouraged by the initial tests.

Although, the GP2 series car will be a big step up from his current Formula 3 machine, Stuvik himself feels ready graduating after almost 10 years of karting and 4 years of progressing up the ranks of formula cars in Europe. The GP2 cars are capable of reaching over 330 km/h and only Formula 1 and Indy cars go faster, however, Stuvik is not faced by the raw power or speed of the car, but believes his biggest challenge will be in mastering the enormous braking capability, similar to that of Formula 1.

Stuvik himself said; ”I have been training hard together with several established GP2 drivers this whole year to ensure that I will be physically and mentally fit to handle the car and to take it to its maximum potential. We learnt tremendously much this year from RP Motorsport, about racing to the maximum and this is something we want to build further on as we move towards Formula 1. I am very happy to test with the Italian team Rapax in Abu Dhabi and since I train in Italy now, it is very easy to work with them. I am also very grateful to my sponsors The Pizza Company, Singha and Dacon who believe in me and have given me this opportunity.”

Stuvik is currently working with a number of Thai global corporations, such as The Pizza Company and Singha and Dacon Inspection Services to achieve funding for a 2 year program aimed towards competing in a Formula 1 feeder series, with the clear aim at ultimately racing in Formula 1. The GP2 series is one such series, racing alongside Formula 1, providing worldwide TV coverage for the sponsors.

Cameron TwynhamEuropean F3 Open Copa Class title contender Cameron Twynham will sample Auto GP machinery for the first time next Monday (October 28) when he teams up with the Zele Racing squad at the championship’s official test day in Jerez, Spain.

The combination of Lola BO5/52 chassis and Zytek ZA1348 engine, which produces some 550bhp, will be a significant hike in performance compared to the F3 single-seater he has raced this year. Nevertheless, the 17-year-old from Market Harborough is confident of making a strong impression at a circuit where he scored a podium finish earlier this season.

“This is a massive step up in power, more than double what my current F3 car produces in fact, so I will be treating the Auto GP single-seater with the respect it deserves,” said Twynham. “These cars look and sound incredible, and I cannot wait to get out on track to see what they can do. This is an excellent chance for me to test the car and I can’t thank Zele Racing or my personal management team enough for organising the opportunity at such short notice.”

Zele Racing Team Principal, Michael Zele, added: “We’re really happy to have Cameron with us for official Auto GP testing at Jerez next week. His performances in F3 Open have progressed really well throughout the year and we’re delighted to have another promising and very talented driver in our team.”

To see and, more importantly, hear the Auto GP single seater in action, check out this video from Monza:

Gabby ChavesMotorsports rising star Gabby Chaves ended his return season of North American junior formula car action in superb fashion on Saturday (October 19) at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Returning to the cockpit of his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry, the standout rookie finished second in the Firestone Indy Lights season-finale, giving the highly-regarded racer a series-high 10 podium finishes, and second in the championship fight.

Entering the season-ending 12th race on the 2013 Indy Lights schedule, Chaves was one of only two drivers still in contention for the championship crown and the prestigious Mazda Road to Indy scholarship to advance up to the IndyCar Series in 2014.

Given the No. 7 Coldeportes/Marca Colombia/RedServi/Tecpro racer had earned a trip to the post-race podium at the previous six races, including an inaugural win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the stage was set for another run at top honors.

Aware that car set-up is key on an oval, the talented Schmidt Peterson Motorsports focused on fine tuning Chaves’ racing steed in the lead up to qualifying and the 50-lap race.

Chaves, having turned the third best time during single-car qualifying, got the green flag on Saturday from row two. Needing to lead the most laps and score the win in order to come home as the series champion, the ‘Take 5 To Stay Alive. Don’t Text & Drive’ spokesperson and Safety Ambassador of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability driver wasted little time moving up to second and challenging for the lead. While Chaves continually pressured the race leader, he was unable to make a pass for position, ultimately taking second place, a mere 0.9966s behind at the checkered flag. When combined with a third place finish by his championship-winning teammate, Chaves ended the year as the 2013 Indy Lights runner-up.

“It’s disappointing,” stated Chaves. “We fight with our hearts every time, and sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes it doesn’t. Today wasn’t my day. I did everything that I could. I knew I had to lead the most laps, and tried to go around Carlos [Munoz] many times. I couldn’t do it.

“Great job to the team, to Sam [Schmidt], and a big thank you to everyone who has helped me, including my engineer Chris [Finch], all the mechanics, the whole Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew, Al Lewis, and PitFit Training. Congrats to Sage [Karam] and my team for the championship, and we’ll see what comes next. I’ll definitely keep pushing hard, because it’s not over. We lost this championship, but there’s still plenty to come.”

Chaves was a title contender throughout his rookie Indy Lights season. The most consistent front-runner, he secured a series-high 10 top-three finishes in 12 races, scoring one win and five seconds.

With second in the 2013 Indy Lights title fight, the up-and-comer has finished as a champion or runner-up five times since 2007. Chaves has enjoyed success both in North America and abroad, highlighted by the 2008 Skip Barber Southern Regional Series title, 2009 Formula BMW Americas championship crown, 2010 Campionato Italiano Formula 3 Rookie of the Year award, and second in the 2012 Star Mazda Championship.

Chaves is currently preparing for the 2014 season, and excited for the opportunities it might bring.

Next up for Chaves is a return to his racing roots…karting. The skilled 20 year-old will contest both the prestigious Robo-pong 200 at New Castle Motorsports Park in Indiana, and the 17th edition of the renowned SuperKartsUSA! SuperNationals in Las Vegas.

Photo by Chris Jones.

Felix RosenqvistFelix Rosenqvist brought the 2013 FIA Formula 3 European Championship campaign to an emphatic close by winning twice at this weekend’s season-finale at Hockenheim, Germany.

Rosenqvist wasted no time in showing his intentions ahead of the finale, topping Friday’s free practice session and bagging front-row grid slots for all three of the weekend’s races – including claiming pole position for Saturday’s Race 2. The 21-year-old Mücke Motorsport man then went on to control the opening race of the meeting after grabbing the lead off the line, eventually winning by 5.9 seconds over second-placed Raffaele Marciello (Italy). Rosenqvist later repeated his performance in the subsequent Race 2 to lead home a trio of cars from title-winning outfit Prema Powerteam.

In the season-ending final race on Sunday, the Swede finished second behind newly-crowned champion Marciello in a rain-hit event, in which the duo ran away from the rest of the field and took the chequered flag separated by just two tenths of a second. To further underline his pace, Rosenqvist – who ends up second overall in the 2013 FIA Formula 3 European Championship standings – posted the fastest lap of each of the three races.

“A really, really strong way to end the campaign,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “With two wins, a second place and three fastest laps this weekend, our pace has hopefully been there for everyone to see, and it’s great to have capped things off in this manner. We go away from here with some very strong results, and we have to be proud of what we’ve achieved this year. Big congratulations to Raffaele on winning the title; we’ve had some good battles this year, and I think we’ve spurred each other on throughout the campaign. Last but not least, I want to thank the entire team at Mücke Motorsport for a great season, and all of my fans and followers who have offered some truly fantastic support in good times and in bad. It has meant a lot to me, and I hope I’ve paid back for some of it this weekend.”

Felix Rosenqvist’s 2013 FIA Formula 3 European Championship CV includes a total of 10 race wins, 18 podiums, four pole positions and 10 fastest laps. The 21-year-old concludes the campaign sitting more than 100 points clear of third-placed Briton Alex Lynn. Alongside his championship accomplishments, 2013 has also seen Rosenqvist win the prestigious Masters of Formula 3 for a second time. As part of the award package on offer in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, Rosenqvist will be given a World Series by Renault test in Spain later this year.

Photo by Mattias Persson / Motorsport Publication.

Dennis OlsenDennis Olsen, who drives his first season in Formula Renault 2.0 finished strongly in the last race and secured an third place finish in the NEC Championship. The goal-oriented 17 year old is the only one of the 50 drivers who have completed all races with points. This weekend’s race in Zandvoort proved to be a thriller where points distribution, weather and tactics could make a big difference. Nothing was decided until the last meter and amazingly enough Dennis once again showed his capacity as a driver.

Five riders fought hard for the prestigious medals and Dennis was the only newcomer among experienced drivers who competed for medals. It was to run three races before it was settled. During Friday’s training Dennis was among the three fastest in the pouring rain. On Saturday morning the rain gave up and qualifying which was divided into two groups ran on a drying track.

- I was in the first group and had to drive on a track that was faster with every lap we ran. I pushed hard from the start as I knew a red flag on the slippery circuit was likely. Eight minutes and halfway through the qualifiers, I was in the top when a car ran off the track and the red flag came out. When we came out on the track there were four minutes left that gave us two laps to do it. In the very last lap I was set for a new best time but had to brake and steer away from a car spun in front of me and tumbled down to fourth place – says Dennis

Dennis had a very strong second best time and ended up second. Group two qualifiers got a drier track and the two groups were therefore merged to give Dennis starting position 8 in the first race and 4 in the second race. Since the result of Race 1 was to determine the starting position in Race 3 the team had to make some strategic choices.

- The result in the first race on Saturday was to determine the starting position in Race 3 on Sunday. The first six on the list gets reversed down to sixth place in race 1 would give the pole position in race 3. I started eight and ran controlled into sixth place, securing pole position in race 3. This gave me the unique chance in the championship – says Dennis.

Was sure of an overall second place in the championship…

With good points in the first race and pole position in the third race he started from the fourth starting position in race 2. Jack Aitken was behind Dennis then there were two turns again . Jack lying on an overall second place in the championship and was threatened by Dennis took a chance and drove past the yellow flag . This would give Jack Aitken a penalty of 30 seconds and placed Dennis in second place in the championship.

- I realized immediately that overtaking on yellow flag would mean that I caught up to a combined second place in Championship. I rejoiced to be able to finish the last race from pole position. The team was quickly on the radio and said that second place was virtually assured. They did Stewards advised offense but unfortunately for us it was never awarded a penalty. What a shame for us but we still had a chance in the very last race Sunday night.

That didn’t happen though as bad weather continued in full force and the Stewards decided to cancel the very last race. Dennis finished the year with a sensational third place, rookie of the year and the only one of the 50 drivers in the championship who have completed all races with points. As part of the prize the Valer boy will get one test day in Formula Renault 3.5, a class below F1.

- Anyway I’m very happy to be able to finish the season in third place among drivers with many years experience. It would of course be fun to settle the championship in the last race but as it turned out, we could not have done it better than this. EVEN Management along with Junior Team Norway has given me every opportunity for a strong performance and I am very grateful that they give me this chance – says a satisfied Dennis .

EVEN Management is responsible for a broad focus on young talents and has several good drivers in his stall. Andreas Mikkelsen, Esapekka Lappi, Ole Christian Veiby and Pontus Tidemand run rally while Dennis driving a Formula car . Roy Snellingen’s sports director in EVEN Management and was very impressed with his debut season in Formula cars.

- There were few who believed in our goal of a third in the championship for newcomer, among the far more experienced drivers. We set sky-high goals and he has really proven that anything is possible . He is a hardworking and determined young boy and has shown very good progress in its first year as a formula car driver. This bodes well for the future.

Felix RosenqvistFelix Rosenqvist put in a series of spirited fightback drives at the penultimate FIA Formula 3 European Championship round of the season at Vallelunga this weekend, as he battled to minimise the damage of a broken suspension that put him on the sidelines in the early stages of Saturday qualifying.

The qualifying adversity forced Rosenqvist to line up 27th and last for both the first and second race of the weekend – on a track notorious for its lack of overtaking opportunities. The 21-year-old would take no prisoners once the red lights went out, however, clawing his way back up to tenth and ninth respectively in the two races to earn himself some potentially decisive championship points.

In the final race of the weekend, Rosenqvist finished sixth after once again making up several positions from another lowly grid slot (also a consequence of his qualifying woes). The Mücke Motorsport man leaves Vallelunga – which he visited for the first time this weekend – still in second place in the overall standings, with title rival Raffaele Marciello using the benefit of home soil to open up a 45.5-point advantage with 75 points left up for grabs at next weekend’s Hockenheim finale.

“Results-wise, this was obviously a dark weekend, although we did manage to make the most of where we were after qualifying,” Felix Rosenqvist says. “Our chances were effectively ruined by one tenth of bad luck in qualifying – I hit a kerb from an unfortunate angle, and broke the suspension before I could set any representative time – but to fight back like that and actually score some points felt really good. I am disappointed at some of the on-track behaviour and some decisions taken this weekend – particularly in the final race, where I think some of our main rivals got away with some clear infringements – but that has only made me even more motivated for Hockenheim; and I will be going absolutely flat out again in a couple of days’ time.”

Felix Rosenqvist has now mathematically secured at least second place overall in the 2013 FIA Formula 3 European Championship standings, with third-placed Alex Lynn unable to overhaul the Swede regardless of the outcome at Hockenheim.

Photo by Mattias Persson / Motorsport Publication.

Seb MorrisSeb Morris’ status as one of the UK’s most promising aspiring Formula One drivers has been further enhanced today, Thursday, 10th October, after being named one of six finalists for the 2013 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.

Easily the most coveted prize in national motorsport, the prestigious accolade has been awarded to some of the biggest names in British motor racing since its inauguration in 1989, including 2009 FIA Formula One World Champion Jenson Button, multiple Grand Prix winner David Coulthard, current F1 racer Paul Di Resta and four-time IndyCar Champion Dario Franchitti.

Marford 17-year-old Seb will be assessed alongside five other drivers from junior-level motorsport over a two-day period next month at Silverstone in Northamptonshire. In addition to the driving element, the six contenders will also face intense fitness trials, simulation tests and interviews from a panel of esteemed judges.

Alongside the huge kudos which goes with scooping the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, the prize package also includes £100,000 towards the winner’s racing budget for 2014, full membership of the British Racing Drivers’ Club and a coveted test drive with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 Team.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have been named a McLaren Autosport finalist”, said the Ginetta Ambassador, “It’s a huge honour and a real acknowledgment, so many incredible drivers have won in the past and the prize of a Formula One test with McLaren is such an amazing opportunity.

“The competition will be tough, incredibly so, but I’ll be preparing hard for the assessment days and obviously going there to impress the judges and, hopefully, win. Whatever happens, just to be one of the final six is a great achievement and it’ll be a potentially career-changing experience.”

Seb’s nomination for the 25th staging of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award comes hot on the heels of his confirmation as BRDC Formula 4 Vice-Champion after a successful appeal hearing this week where his exclusion from a race win at Snetterton in September was overturned.

Originally claiming a superb race victory during round 20 of the season at the Norfolk track, officials called into question the eligibility of the gurney flap on the rear wing of his MSV F4-013 and initially excluded Seb from the results – which meant he ended the season third in the standings.

The Motor Sports Association’s national court, however, overturned the ruling this past Tuesday, 8th October, so Seb ends the inaugural F4 season second in the championship. He added: “I want to say a big thank you to Dan Chapman at Full Contact, my management team, and to the guys at Hillspeed for helping to get my win reinstated.”

The winner of the 25th McLaren Autosport BRDC Award will be announced on the evening of Sunday, 1st December, at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, London.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Cameron TwynhamCameron Twynham produced his most impressive qualifying display of the European F3 Open season at Italian Grand Prix venue Monza last weekend (5-6 October) but was ultimately left frustrated by two eventful race outings.

The Market Harborough driver made the paddock sit up and take notice in Saturday morning’s rain-affected qualifying session when he secured a commanding maiden Copa Class pole position and, perhaps more impressively, placed his car eighth overall on the grid highly-competitive grid. Indeed, had it not been for a brief off with two laps of his run remaining, he could have been among the overall top-five.

This represented an incredible effort from Twynham, who had never seen the Italian track before opening practice, and enjoys added significance as the first pole position of his fledgling single-seater racing career.

Unfortunately the race would not bring the same level of celebration. On lap two Twynham and a rival collided, tipping both into a costly spin. This dropped Twynham to last place, but the youngster was quick to resume his charge and was soon the fastest Copa car on-track. Passing several rivals on his way back up the order, Twynham had climbed all the way to fourth spot as the race reached its closing stages.

Now sensing a remarkable return to the podium was on the cards, the Team West-Tec driver made a move on the third-placed car only to be turned in on, costing him further positions. He would finally come home in fifth spot, securing points from what had been a bruising race.

Sunday’s second qualifying would prove challenging as Twynham was unable to pick up an aerodynamic tow from a rival car on Monza’s long pit-straight. This cost the Brit an incredible 1.6 seconds, leaving him to settle for fourth place on the grid.

More rain fell ahead of the race, leaving the track damp but deemed dry enough for slicks. However during the formation lap Cameron – as well as a number of his rivals – decided that wet-weather rubber was the correct call, duly ducking into the pits to make the change.

Initially this proved to be the right course of action, with the wet-shod cars making clear gains on their slick rivals, but as the race progressed the track dried significantly. That left a frustrated Twynham unable to do better than sixth, despite knowing he had the pace to be among the podium-challenging cars.

Cameron Twynham: “The weekend began as well as we could have hoped. The lap came together perfectly for me and I was very pleased to get my first series pole. After that we were hoping for big things.

“Unfortunately the early collision cost me a shot at the race one win and, with hindsight, I feel I should have played the long game and given up the position. The upshot was that I dropped to last, but after this I was the quickest Copa car out there and almost made it back to the podium. Then when I made a move for P3 I was turned in on, which dropped me back to fifth.

“During second qualifying I couldn’t find a tow and at Monza that’s really, really costly. Then on the formation lap we made the decision to switch to wets. Initially they felt better, but as the race progressed we lost pace on the slick runners and it held us back. And of course, five minutes after the chequered flag, the heavens opened! It just goes to show that with decisions like this the difference between victory and defeat is incredibly small.

“Overall this weekend will be an important part of my learning learning curve. Taking my first pole position in a single-seater on Saturday was clearly a highlight as well, so it wasn’t all bad. The championship now looks a little more difficult with just one round to go, but we’ll be giving it our all in Spain next month. As ever, thanks to my sponsors and fans for their continued support.”

Twynham’s season-ending F3 Open encounter takes place at Circuit de Catalunya over the weekend of 9/10 November.

Seb MorrisMultiple motor racing champion Seb Morris’ image is appearing on High Streets across the UK, USA and Hong Kong after being launched as one of the faces of the newly unveiled ‘Young Britons’ campaign from global clothing brand Jack Wills.

Welsh 17-year-old Seb, who hails from Marford near Wrexham, is one of the country’s top aspiring professional racing drivers and won championship titles in 2010 – his debut year in cars – 2011 and 2012. This season, he has just wrapped up the BRDC Formula 4 Championship battle third overall.

Fittingly, the teenager has been selected to be a key part of the ‘Young Britons’ promotion which has been created by the team at Jack Wills to acknowledge and celebrate some of the UK’s premier up and coming talent in fields such as sport, music and the wider entertainment industry.

“Being a long term fan of Jack Wills, it was a real honour to be picked as a Jack Wills Young Briton”, said Seb, “I really love the direction the brand is moving in and can’t wait to see more of the Autumn/Winter collection.

“I am delighted to be part of a campaign that promotes and celebrates young talent across different mediums and, on top of that, being associated with a brand which is recognised across the world is great for my profile.”

With the BRDC Formula 4 Championship season now concluded, Seb’s management team is already putting together plans for next year. The new link with Jack Wills certainly promises to be the start of an exciting relationship.

Dan Chapman, senior partner of Seb’s management team, Full Contact, explained: “We are very excited and proud Seb was chosen by Jack Wills alongside other up and coming British talent across various industries such as sport, media and music. The campaign is about supporting British talent and inspiring those of a similar age. I’m sure everyone will agree Seb certainly looks every inch the part!”

To celebrate Seb’s high profile association with one of Britain’s finest clothing brands, everyone is invited to get involved by visiting their nearest Jack Wills store – see to find a list of retail outlets – to take a photo of Seb’s image in the window.

By then tweeting the image to him @sebmorris31 #jackwillsyoungbrit #sebspotting there will be an opportunity to win a signed goody bag from Seb. One tweet will be selected at random. Follow Seb @sebmorris31 for updates regarding the contest…good luck!