Cameron 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.