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Category: European F3 Open

Sean WalkinshawDouble engine failure during preparation for the opening round of the EuroFormula Open Winter Series at Paul Ricard in France this weekend prevented Sean Walkinshaw from showing his true pace on his debut in the category’s top class – the Briton having to settle for a frustrating 11th place finish.

Making his competitive debut with leading team Campos Racing, the 20-year-old from Chipping Norton had high hopes of a strong start to the Winter Series but an unfortunate engine blow-up during the first test session on Friday, 28th February, set the scene for an exasperating weekend.

While the Campos mechanics did a fantastic job to switch powerplants as quickly as possible, the track time lost was significant. Despite that, Sean was able to re-emerge on circuit halfway through the third run with a new engine bolted into his Dallara and he subsequently went on to give a clear indication of his genuine speed with the second fastest time in the rain-hit final session of the day.

Aiming for a deserved trouble-free run on Saturday, 1st March, the Oxfordshire driver began the day impressively with the sixth quickest time in the first of two morning practice sessions – especially noteworthy when taking into account his lack of dry track time – but, incredibly, a second engine failure followed.

Ultimately qualifying 13th on the grid for round one, Sean managed to make progress over the course of the 14 laps to end the race in 11th position, just 1.5 seconds outside the top 10. Having circulated with top five pace, the event turned out to be a classic case of what might have been.

“It has been a frustrating start to the Winter Series, that’s the best way to sum it up, but there are some positives to take away”, said a phlegmatic Sean, “We definitely had the pace when I was able to run without any issues, my car felt great, but the engine problems limited our running and then impacted on qualifying. We did what we could in the race.

“The organisers of the championship have been great and taken full responsibility for the engine problems and the Campos guys did a fantastic job changing engines, it’s just unfortunate we had two blow-ups. We know we can be quick in the next round at Barcelona, we tested well there before Christmas so I’m confident and definitely looking forward to it.”

Round two of the EuroFormula Open Winter Series will take place a fortnight from now on Saturday, 15th March, at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. Pre-event testing will precede the race meeting at the Barcelona track on Friday, 14th March.

Cameron TwynhamBRDC Rising Star Cameron Twynham continued his preparations for this year’s EuroFormula Open campaign with an encouraging display in the opening Winter Series round at Paul Ricard on Saturday (March 1).

The 18-year-old from Market Harborough made an excellent start to his weekend during Friday testing, overcoming small technical problems to record the day’s fastest lap during the second session. That dominance continued in the wet third session when the Team West-Tec driver set a blistering time that only two of his rivals managed to get within a second of.

Saturday’s qualifying session therefore promised much, before a problem with his car’s Electronic Control Unit – which significantly impacted on straight-line speed – hampered preparations during the morning’s final practice.

Unbowed, Twynham pulled out all the stops in qualifying to set a lap good enough for fourth on the grid and only 0.310sec shy of pole position. Having registered his personal best through sector one and the session’s quickest through the second, only a small error towards the end of the lap cost him a place on the front row. But by going a second quicker than he’d managed in testing, the MSA Academy ace was still understandably pleased with the effort.

“My pace on Friday was brilliant, and to top the timesheets for the first time was a great feeling,” enthused Twynham. “With the upgraded engines in 2014, we will all experience a few problems here and there and it seems I had my fair share this weekend. But my engineer Jonathan Kennard and coach Ollie Millroy did an incredible job of pinpointing the problem on Saturday morning and getting me ready for qualifying.

“The session was easily the best of my career, and I was very close to cracking the top-two, although I’ve still not put a full lap together with a car that is fully operational, so there’s still plenty more to find.”

Come the afternoon’s race, Twynham initially made a superb start only to lose momentum avoiding a sluggish Alex Palou, which relegated him to fifth by the end of lap one. Despite this, the leading Team West-Tec driver managed to hold off the Spaniard thanks to some great defensive driving over the 14-lap contest, providing plenty of positives ahead of the final Winter Series round and upcoming EuroFormula Open season.

“I’m incredibly happy with how the weekend went, although the race proved to be a defensive exercise to maintain fifth as I didn’t have the right set-up, but I enjoyed the battle nonetheless,” explained Twynham. “I exceeded my targets for this weekend, which gives me enormous confidence going into the second round of the Winter Series at Barcelona.

“I have to thank all my family and sponsors for their incredible support this weekend, in addition to all my fans on social media who also showed incredible faith in me once again.”

The final round of the Winter Series takes place at Barcelona on March 14/15, giving Twynham another opportunity to prepare for the first EuroFormula Open event at the Nurburgring on May 2-4.

Cameron TwynhamUp and coming British racing driver Cameron Twynham will enter the new season as a BRDC Rising Star after his breakthrough 2013 campaign was recognised by the British Racing Drivers’ Club.

The Market Harborough teenager is currently preparing to move into the top tier of Euroformula Open (formerly European F3 Open) with the same Team West-Tec squad that helped him finish runner-up in last season’s Copa Class.

The 18-year-old follows in the footsteps of Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton in gaining the distinction after being scouted by a member of the ‘Rising Stars Panel’. Indeed, the scheme has a track record of promoting only the most promising individuals, with Twynham’s selection coming just three months after he was added to the MSA Academy.

What’s more, Twynham will carry the BRDC Rising Star’s instantly recognisable blue roundel on his car throughout the 2014 season.

“The Rising Stars news came as a bit of a shock; I didn’t know anything about it until I received a letter in the post asking me to attend an interview,” admitted Twynham. “I’d like to think they chose me for my performances last season. 2013 went really well, and it will be very important to use the BRDC Rising Stars title this year. It will certainly be an advantage in terms of networking, as we will have a much better idea of who to speak with, and I think it will be good for my career overall.”

Unwilling to rest on his laurels, Twynham was busy preparing for the upcoming season in Jerez, Spain, last weekend where he gained valuable mileage in the Dallara F312 chassis he will campaign this year.

Further testing takes place at Paul Ricard next Friday (February 28) ahead of Twynham’s first competitive outing of the year just a day later when the Euroformula Open Winter Series begins. The former French Grand Prix venue has proven a happy hunting ground before, with the Brit scoring his maiden F3 victory there in 2013.

“I was really happy with how testing went, though we still need to work on the set-up. We are constantly improving, but there is a lot more to come. The F312 chassis is totally different, and it will take some getting used to how it handles in the corners.

“That said, I think we can instantly be on the pace at Paul Ricard. And hopefully we can make the podium again, just as I did in my first F3 race there in the 2013 Winter Series. Of course winning, like we managed in the main series’ opening round last season, would be even better, but it’s important to bear in mind that we’ll be treating it as a test session to prepare for the new season. We’ll be doing a lot of work between now and the first race to ensure we are in the best possible position for the opening Euroformula round in May.”

Following the conclusion of the two-round Winter Series at Paul Ricard and Barcelona (14/15 March) Euroformula Open travels to the Nurburgring in Germany for its opening event on May 2-4.

Cameron TwynhamCameron Twynham will graduate to the European F3 Open Championship Class in 2014 after agreeing a deal to remain with Team West-Tec.

The 17-year-old from Market Harborough, who finished runner-up in the same series’ junior Copa Class this year, has taken the logical decision to stay with the highly successful British squad for his first full season aboard Dallara’s newest specification Formula 3 car, the F312.

Remaining with the Corby-based outfit – the most decorated in F3 Open history – also offers Twynham the potential to contest selected FIA Formula 3 European Championship rounds, as well as the blue riband Macau Grand Prix at the end of the year.

And it’s those opportunities, as well as his and the team’s existing rapport, which ultimately swayed the MSA Academy ace to challenge for the outright F3 Open title.

“We spent a long time weighing up all the options out there but came to the conclusion that a year of learning the new car in a winning environment that I’m already accustomed to was the best bet for 2014,” confirmed Twynham. “It will be Team West-Tec’s eighth year in F3 Open and they’ll be coming off the back of a championship-winning campaign, so there’s absolutely no question marks over their experience or pedigree. The fact that I’ll be working with the same engineers and staff is also a big bonus. All the pieces are in place for a successful season.”

Importantly, Twynham can call on existing knowledge of the newer chassis when he begins testing ahead of next season:

“I drove the car at the Brands Hatch British F3 round earlier this year and also during a couple of test sessions, so it won’t be completely alien to me. But even though I already feel comfortable there’s still a pretty big step between the Copa and Championship classes, which I’ll need to prepare for initially. We’re still aiming to win the title in our first season, though. I’m feeling confident.”

Team Principal John Miller, who oversaw Twynham’s title challenge this year, added: “We are delighted to re-sign Cameron for 2014. He was the pick of the rookie Copa drivers this season so it was always a priority of ours to retain him. After such a successful year in 2013, with the team winning 11 of 18 F3 Open races, we are putting together a very strong line-up for 2014 and I’m sure Cameron is going to be challenging at the very front of the field with Team West-Tec. I know everyone is really looking forward to that.”

Following a comprehensive pre-season testing schedule Cameron’s F3 Open title bid will begin at the Nurburgring in Germany on May 2-4.

Richard GondaAfter an exciting and demanding season Drivex and their driver Richard Gonda ended up being the great winners in the European F3 Open, clinching the title in Copa classification this year. It was a well deserved win for team and driver, after winning seven races during the season.

The top-priority for Drivex was to secure the title with Richard, a promising talent from Slovakia, but it was not an easy task as Cameron Twynham, his strongest rival for the title, wasn´t far away in the overall rankings. Test sessions on Thursday proved to be valuable for preparing the weekend, and Gonda was already among fastest drivers at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. On Friday three free practice sessions came into action, and Gonda was 3rd fastest at the end of the day setting a best lap of 1:44.575, right behind Twynham.

First qualifying session, on Saturday, saw Gonda continuing doing a solid work and he was 4th and Twynham 3rd, a good place on the grid to approach race one. Gonda was almost the entire race behind Twynham, and that result was good enough to clinch the title. But, after a thrilling overtaking maneuver, he took third from Twynham. This third place was another podium and, most important of all, the title. For Sunday, without pressure, Gonda enchanted everyone posting another pole position time in Q2. Later, in race two, he led from lights to flag finishing on the highest step of the podium once again.

After 16 races, Gonda finished the championship first, scoring 100 points, 19 ahead of Twynham. An extremely positive season for Gonda and Drivex already focused on 2014 with new challenges ahead.

Sandy StuvikA dramatic weekend in Barcelona for the European Formula 3 Open Championship decider, saw Sandy Kraokaew Stuvik struggling with car problems during the Friday practice, missing out the first free practice session due to an oil pressure problem.

Then in the Saturday morning qualifying session, Stuvik was fighting a huge over steer in the car and could only manage a season worst P8 starting position for the race. Without enough time to change the ride height of the car, he would have to work around the over steer problem for the race.

The race started late in the afternoon at Barcelona Circuit and Stuvik went from P7 on the grid back to 8th on the first lap, before he again starting clawing his way up the field. In the end he took the checkered flag in fifth position, with his championship rival Jones, winning the taking over the championship lead.

In the meantime it emerged that Jones had raced at the Barcelona Circuit only 2 weeks ago, in direct contradiction with F3 rules, which prohibits testing on championship circuits. A protest was subsequently filed and accepted for hearing by the organizer committee at a later date.

For Sundays race Stuvik’s car set up was modified for a lower rear ride height before qualifying and finally the young Thai driver again had a car he could race with and managed P2 position in the qualification, just one tenth behind Jones in P1.

For the final race of the season the Thai driver had an unusual slow getaway from the grid and dropped to 5th position, before quickly getting past the drivers in front and up to 3rd position. Jones was out in the lead, but pushed his tires hard in the opening part of the race, too hard as it would soon emerge and with graining tires he started dropping backwards, first getting overtaken by Alex Cougnaud and soon after by Stuvik. By the end of the race the Thai driver was in second place and Jones had dropped to 5th place. Frenchman Alex Cougnaud, also from RP Motorsport, won the race.

The summary of the season is that the Thai racer Sandy Kraokaew Stuvik has the most points, 267 vs Jones 256 points, but the championship will be decided on only 14 of the 16 races and since the Thai driver has finished every single race in 5th place or higher, he has to drop valuable points. On the net points list Jones leads with 256 vs Stuvik 247 points. The championship therefore remains undecided until after the protest hearing against Jones, by the Formula 3 tribunal, in the end of November.

Sandy Kraokaew Stuvik races for Thailand and is sponsored by The Pizza Company, Singha Corporation, Dacon Inspection Services, the Royal Automobile Association of Thailand and Sports Authority of Thailand.

Cameron TwynhamUp and coming British racing driver Cameron Twynham ended his European F3 Open campaign as Copa Class championship runner-up last weekend thanks to a ninth podium of the year at the Barcelona season finale.

The 17-year-old went into the event with only an outside chance of overturning the 13-point deficit that would have landed him the title, and was ultimately forced to settle for second in the standings after the opening race on Saturday.

Twynham had put himself in contention to fight for a much-needed victory during morning qualifying by going third fastest. But unlike his rivals, the Team West-Tec driver had used just one set of tyres during the session, ensuring he would start the afternoon’s race on completely fresh rubber.

Initially that bold decision looked like paying off, with Twynham setting fastest lap of the race in his pursuit of the leaders. However, the newer tyres soon began to fall away – inexplicably far quicker than those used by others during qualifying – leaving the MSA Academy driver powerless to finish any higher than fourth in class.

With the championship mathematically out of reach, the Market Harborough racer focused on securing second place in the standings, which was now under threat from race one winner Tommaso Menchini whose team frequently use Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for testing. Sensing the danger, Twynham again qualified strongly in third directly behind the Italian, before pulling off an exceptional passing manoeuvre around the outside of the final hairpin on the opening lap of Sunday’s race.

Despite the high rate of tyre degradation, which produced lap times some five seconds slower than qualifying, Twynham was still shadowing the leader at half-distance when he was hit from behind by Menchini, forcing him wide at one of the final corners. While his Dallara F308 was fortunate not to sustain terminal damage, the compromised exit saw Cameron lose crucial momentum and second position.

Thereafter Twynham was more than content to protect his third place and the six points that would secure his runner-up position in the standings.

“We all really struggled with the tyres this weekend,” explained Twynham. “Considering we’d used the same set throughout qualifying I was very confident of making up the difference on fresher rubber in Saturday’s race, but the grip levels just fell away after five or six laps. The car lost its balance and I was really struggling towards the end to just stay on track. It wasn’t a great way to concede the title but the tyres were gone.

“On Sunday we essentially had nothing to lose, and I was going along very well in second when I was hit from behind. The contact was enough to break the rear wing and part of the floor, and forced me to run wide, lose momentum out of the corner and get passed along the main straight. After that it was important to sit tight and make sure of third, especially as the tyres were again getting past their best.”

Despite just falling short of the Copa Class title, Twynham was nevertheless pleased with his season’s work.

“It was always going to be tough this weekend as, even if I’d won both races, the championship leader was probably going to need a non-score,” he added. “He’s raced here several times before so that was unlikely, and in any case that’s not the way I’d like to have won it. Finishing second is still a fantastic achievement, especially considering the difference in experience between the champion and me, not to mention the rest of the field. I’ve learnt a lot and will be taking that, as well as all the positives, into next season.

“Congratulations to Richard [Gonda] though: he’s had an excellent year. I’d also like to thank Team West-Tec and my coach Ollie Millroy, as well as my commercial partners and family for their hard work throughout the season.”

An excellent record of 16 podium finishes and two victories from 23 races* in his first year of F3 competition has proven Twynham’s credentials as a star of the future. Now, with the help of his family and partners, he will spend the next couple of months assessing his options for the 2014 season.

*Full season of European F3 Open and selected British F3 rounds.

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Cameron TwynhamCameron Twynham’s hopes of clinching the European F3 Open Copa Class crown received a boost late last week when the 17-year-old Briton was confirmed as an MSA Academy driver.

The Market Harborough resident, who retains a chance of winning the title at this weekend’s season finale in Barcelona, has already sought advice from the scheme designed to aid rising stars, which was established by the UK’s officially sanctioned motorsport body in 2008.

A stellar first season racing Formula 3 machinery has helped Twynham catch the eye of MSA bosses, whose Academy programme is a development pathway designed to foster Britain’s most promising young drivers.

Academy candidates are assessed on the basis of talent, potential and their willingness to work with the MSA in order to improve all aspects of their performance, both on and off track. Having met all three criteria, Twynham will now spend time attending workshops that focus on a broad range of topics, from lifestyle and fitness to the tactical nous and situation analysis a modern racing driver requires. There will also be support available from a dedicated Performance Management structure and qualified coaches.

Twynham is confident that the Academy’s facilities and programmes will help him improve still further next year.

“Being selected as an MSA Academy driver is a fantastic achievement and one that I’m sure will help me to take the next step in 2014,” he said. “The MSA Academy does a great job helping to prepare and improve young drivers, so I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in and learning as much as I can. The fact that selection is based on performance and potential is very important to me as I’ve worked incredibly hard over the last 12 months or so to put myself in this position. By recognising that, the MSA Academy has provided me with even greater motivation and means to succeed.”

MSA Academy Coordinator Greg Symes explained that a combination of factors played their part in Twynham’s selection.

“Cameron is one of those drivers who has stood out since graduating to cars in 2012. He was first identified as a potential candidate when racing in the InterSteps series last year after the MSA ran a performance master class programme for its drivers. That, coupled with his excellent results this year, as well as a personal recommendation from Team UK driver Jack Harvey, guaranteed his place on the Academy. It’s there to offer advise where the drivers feel they most need assistance, so that ranges from having someone acting as a sounding board on the phone right through to us putting a bespoke programme of workshops in place. Whatever Cam feels is relevant we’ll try to provide.”

The final round of this season’s European F3 Open campaign is live on Motors TV this weekend, with coverage of Saturday’s race airing at 13:50 and Sunday’s starting at 12:05 GMT.

Sandy StuvikThe European Formula 3 Open is on eve of its 2013 title decider, taking place in Barcelona next 9-10 November. There are two racers left who can take the title this season, Thailand’s Sandy Stuvik and UAE’s Ed Jones. For Thailand´s driver, after his three wins this season – his last triumph at Monza being an epic race, Barcelona could mean a new milestone for his racing career.

“Having raced at Barcelona track before, I know the circuit quite well and I can say it is one of the best circuits on the calendar and it will be great to drive there with a Formula 3 car. The championship battle is very close now, and I need strong finishes at Barcelona to walk away as the champion. I know Jones will be a challenge as he has always been this season but I am confident that we can make it an exciting finale”, Stuvik explains, pointing out that “I’m still training very hard at Shape Driver in Italy as I have been doing the whole year, and it has made a huge difference not just physically, but mentally. I feel strong and fully ready for the final push, and I will do whatever it takes to be the champion”.

At the moment Stuvik sits first with 239 points, with Jones second and 219 points. Sandy Kraokaew Stuvik races for Thailand and is sponsored by The Pizza Company, Singha Corporation, Dacon Inspection Services, the Royal Automobile Association of Thailand and Sports Authority of Thailand. Please cheer Sandy for another podium and flying of the Thai flag in the coming final round at Catalunya Circuit on 9-10 November 2013 via live web streaming

Cameron TwynhamUp and coming British racing driver Cameron Twynham heads to the European F3 Open season finale in Barcelona next weekend (8-10 November) still hopeful of challenging for the Copa Class title.

The 17-year-old from Market Harborough has been a championship contender since the first round of the year but endured a luckless weekend at Monza last time out, leaving him 13 points adrift of top spot. With only 20 still available from the final two races at Circuit de Catalunya, Twynham is well aware of the task at hand.

“I’m under no illusions as to how difficult it will be to clinch the Copa crown in Spain, but that won’t stop me from going out all guns blazing,” he confirmed. “Realistically I need to win both races in order to have any chance, so I’ll be in maximum attack mode. Any other approach simply won’t do.”

To that end Twynham can take comfort from the raw pace he and his Team West-Tec-run Dallara F308 demonstrated at the ultra-fast Monza circuit where he comfortably qualified on pole among the newer F312 machinery.

“Monza was tough as the hard work I’d put in over the previous couple of months didn’t really pay off. We were leading the championship and had qualified on pole, but that first race just didn’t go to plan and from there things started to unravel.

“But all in all, regardless of what happens in Barcelona, I think we can be proud of the season as a whole. Looking back over the year there are moments where I know we lost points, but also those where we outperformed the car or overcame difficulties. My chief rival has a lot more experience than me, and although I obviously want to win the championship, finishing second would still represent a good return.”

While the prospect of overhauling that 13-point deficit will be at the forefront of his mind during the coming week, last Monday (October 28) was all about keeping one eye on the future when Twynham made the considerable step up in performance by sampling a Zele Racing-prepared Auto GP single-seater for the first time.

Travelling to Jerez for the championship’s official post-season test day, Cameron quickly settled in behind the wheel of the 550bhp machine despite the significant increase in both power and downforce.

“No question, the Auto GP car was absolutely awesome,” enthused Twynham. “I was on-track all day and covered a lot of laps. The jump in performance was very noticeable at first, especially the throttle response. There’s just no comparison between it and an F3 car. So I was patient, built my confidence step by step and was soon turning quick lap times. The team were happy and I didn’t make any silly mistakes. It was a great day and has given me a lot to think about for next year.”

Don’t forget Motors TV has live coverage of both European F3 Open races next weekend, with Saturday’s coverage beginning at 13:50 and Sunday’s starting at 12:05 GMT.

Barcelona weekend schedule*

Friday 8 November:
Free Practice 1: 09:00 – 09:30
Free Practice 2: 12:20 – 12:50
Free Practice 3: 17:10 – 17:40

Saturday 9 November:
Qualifying 1: 11:10 – 11:40
Race 1: 15:00 (17 laps)

Sunday 10 November:
Qualifying 2: 09:15 – 09:45
Race 2: 13:20 (17 laps)

*All times local

Photo by Zele Racing