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Tag: Alex Brundle

OAK RacingThe teams entered in the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship arrived at the Paul Ricard HTTT circuit in the south of France for a 2-day official test session (29-30 March) in view of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship.

OAK Racing brought along three Morgan-Nissan LM P2s (#24, #35 and #45), all of which are entered for the first three rounds of the World Endurance Championship. Overall, the damp weather provided difficult conditions for the twenty or so cars that turned up, and they did not manage to run through as many options as they would have wished. On the other hand, the weather gave the drivers the opportunity to race in fluctuating conditions before the start of the season with rain, a drying track and finally a dry layout. The sun put in an appearance on the final afternoon and this helped the French team to progress and prepare for the first race of the season. OAK Racing had a trouble-free test with no technical problems which, allied to the Morgan-Nissans’ pace, means that the team is tackling the first round of the championship, the 6 Hours of Silverstone, on April 14 in the best possible conditions.

During the first day Olivier Pla and Alex Brundle in #24 set the second-quickest time in the LM P2 category with a lap of 1m48.828s, only 0.3sec off the #25 Delta-ADR Oreca-Nissan. During the nighttime practice Pla topped the timesheets, although many teams including OAK Racing decided to cut short the session because of fog.

On Saturday morning Brundle set the quickest lap in LM P2 with a 1m48.070s to finish just in front of the #49 Pecom Racing Oreca-Nissan. In the afternoon #35 in the hands of Bertrand Baguette, Martin Plowman and Ricardo Gonzalez went even quicker to clinch the fastest time of the test thanks to a lap of 1m47.398s. That was followed by #24 in second with a 1m47.589s.

Sébastien Philippe, OAK Racing Team Principal: “We’ve had a very productive two days, maybe more so for the drivers than for the team as we were unable to validate as many technical options as we would have liked due to the weather conditions. In #24 Alex and Olivier tested various technical set-ups and they had a good run. In #35 the driver line-up’s learning the ropes and getting to know one another: there’s a good ambience between them and they exchanged a lot of information. I’m pleasantly surprised by #45: Jean-Marc Merlin doesn’t have much experience, but he adapted to the circuit very quickly like Philippe Mondolot who comes from VdeV, and who got to grips with the car in almost no time even if it was his first real outing in the Morgan. The times were pretty good and very consistent so we can look forward to Silverstone in a confident frame of mind.”

Alex Brundle, #24 Morgan-Nissan LM P2: “This test has been a positive one for us. Obviously every time we have been on tyres with representative mileage we have been very close to the pace or the pace, which is fantastic. I feel very at home in the car now thanks to the testing we have done. The sister car appears to be very competitive which is good for our own data and the analysis of the balance and the driving for the two cars. It is nice to get up and running, the car’s livery looks great this year and there is a happy team around us!”

Martin Plowman, #35 Morgan-Nissan LM P2: “It was a good two days’ testing. The conditions were not perfect with the weather changing so much but it is good experience for Silverstone because more than likely it will be bad there too. I do not think we were too focused on the performance of the lap times here. Everybody is doing something different so it is not a true test of speed. I think overall we ended the second day quite happy with the feeling of the car, which is the most important thing and gelling as a team. I am sure Silverstone will be exciting to see where we truly are.”

Jacques Nicolet, #45 Morgan-Nissan LM P2: “We’ve had two very encouraging days’ testing. Our driver line-up gelled very quickly and everybody immediately hit it off! Jean-Marc Merlin and Philippe Mondolot both know how to combine speed, safety and consistency and were on the pace despite the tricky track conditions – rain, cold, fog and sun! Overall, it was a faultless performance and that bodes well for the Le Mans 24 Hours. Personally speaking I got back in the groove and was able to maintain a good rhythm. I felt good in the car and very much at home with the new driver line-up.”

Photo by Philippe Laurenson/DPPI

OAK RacingLate efforts from both Olivier Pla and Dominik Kraihamer helped OAK Racing lock out the second row of the LM P2 class grid for round six of the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Six Hours of Bahrain tomorrow.

The team had high hopes of picking up their second pole position of the WEC season after topping all three free practice sessions, but eventually had to settle for third and fourth places behind the Starworks Motorsport HPD and ADR-Delta Oreca-Nissan.

Pla had been quickest in final practice earlier today but required a late flying lap of 1m52.368s to move the #24 Morgan-Nissan 2012 LM P2 up to third on the grid, a time just 0.083sec shy of the front row. From there the Frenchman, along with team-mates Matthieu Lahaye and Jacques Nicolet, will be hopeful of notching up a second podium in as many races following their third place finish in Brazil.

Meanwhile Kraihamer, who set the fastest time in practice two last night, was a constant threat at the top of the timesheets but also required a late flying lap as others around him improved. In the end the Austrian finished less than 0.3sec behind Pla in fourth. He, along with Bertrand Baguette and Alex Brundle, will now be looking to make up for the disappointment of missing out on a near-certain second place at Interlagos with another strong drive tomorrow.

Sebastien Philippe, Team Principal: “Considering our free practice pace we are a bit disappointed with the qualifying result. The team made no mistakes and both drivers were excellent but the Starworks car was too far away today. Having said that, second place was definitely possible. P3 and P4 is much better than our recent qualifying form though so we’re well set to take advantage of our fast and consistent race pace tomorrow.”

Olivier Pla, #24 Morgan 2012 LM P2: “I was expecting a bit more to be honest. It took me a long time to bring the tyres in, which is why the car was quicker towards the end of the session. Most of this race will be run in the dark and last night we had great consistency and pace throughout the stint, so P3 isn’t such a bad place to be starting.”

Dominik Kraihamer, #35 Morgan 2012 LM P2: “I concentrated on finding a rhythm and was able to steadily work down to the quick final time. I know there’s more pace in the car as I wasn’t pushing 120% due to my inexperience here. I’m starting the race tomorrow and am confident that we have excellent consistency over our longer runs, so a good result is certainly possible.”

The Six Hours of Bahrain begins at 16:00 local time tomorrow.

Photo by Clement Marin/DPPI.

OAK RacingOAK Racing scored their second FIA World Endurance Championship podium of the season at the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo today after staging a brilliant comeback drive.

Olivier Pla, Matthieu Lahaye and Jacques Nicolet overcame a difficult opening 20 minutes that saw the Onroak Automotive designed and built #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2 fall a lap down following two spins to finish third in the highly competitive LMP2 class.

Meanwhile the #35 sister car of Bertrand Baguette, Dominik Kraihamer and Alex Brundle was forced to retire at three-quarters distance with a fuel pressure issue after fighting for victory with the #44 Starworks Motorsport HPD.

After surviving both a tangle on the opening lap and then a tap from behind 20 minutes later, Lahaye recovered well to move from eighth up to fifth by the time he handed over to Pla following his double stint. Shortly after Pla was into fourth and then third, a position he would maintain after a safety car period.

#35’s subsequent misfortune then allowed the #24 machine to move up to second place, although that would ultimately become third after Nicolet received two stop/go penalties for successive pit-lane speeding infringements.

Sebastien Philippe, Team Manager: “I felt confident after qualifying because I was sure of our race pace, and that proved the case. Only the Starworks HPD was quicker over a stint today, although Olivier did set the fastest lap. All three of #35’s drivers performed very well so it was disappointing to have the problem. As for #24, it was a great comeback drive. Matthieu and Olivier were as fast as always while Jacques did fantastically, perhaps the best in terms of outright speed I’ve seen from him. Naturally he is disappointed about missing the pit entry and being penalised for speeding but it’s important to remember that we had the potential for victory. It’s a big positive we can take from the weekend.”

Olivier Pla, #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “Considering everything that happened at the start third position was a very good result. Matthieu had nowhere to go but recovered well and showed great pace on old tyres. When I took over from him the fresh rubber helped us make up further ground. Ultimately it was disappointing not to finish second but when you consider our start this was a good recovery.”

Matthieu Lahaye, #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “It’s fair to say my first stint didn’t go perfectly! At the start I had nowhere to go and was spun around. Just after that I had a puncture and had to pit before being tapped into another spin by the ADR Delta car. Fortunately my second stint went much better and I had moved up to fifth, despite the tyres going off, when I pitted. Jacques’ problem meant that we couldn’t finish second but I think we would have been happy with a podium just after the start!”

Jacques Nicolet, #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “I am so disappointed to have lost second place for the team because of the two penalties I incurred after speeding in the pit-lane. It makes me angry because everyone, in the garage and on track, did a super job and deserved a better result. We would never have predicted finishing second after the difficulties at the start but we all drove very well. So my mistakes upset the driver in me as much as the team owner. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. The only positive to take is that a friendly team benefitted from our problems.”

Bertrand Baguette, #35 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “Looking at the positives we had very good pace today. I was pushed onto the kerbs at the start and lost a position but was able to work my way back up the field. Alex and Dominik continued the good work so it’s very disappointing not to finish, especially as we were running a strong second.”

Dominik Kraihamer, #35 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “The car felt great today after yesterday’s solid result in qualifying. Everything was going so well and we had a good advantage over third. But once again the luck wasn’t with us today. Bahrain will be a new experience for me and, hopefully, signal a change of fortune as well.”

Alex Brundle, #35 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “I got in after Bertrand had finished an excellent double stint and passed Enzo Potolicchio for the lead early on. But we were very unfortunate with the safety car’s timing which not only allowed the Starworks HPD to make up ground but also meant I had to defend using much older tyres. I really enjoyed it though and we were running a strong second when the problem struck. This weekend was my first time in the Morgan 2012 LMP2 and I really enjoyed the experience, especially at a circuit like Interlagos.”

The FIA World Endurance Championship continues with round six in Bahrain on September 29.

In other news, the Morgan 2012 LMP2 run by Conquest Endurance finished second in class and fourth overall at this evening’s American Le Mans Series round in Virginia thanks to the combined efforts of David Heinemeier Hansson and Martin Plowman.

Photo by Clement Marin / DPPI.

OAK RacingOAK Racing set the scene for the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo earlier this week by staging an exhibition featuring their Morgan 2012 LMP2 at the magnificent JK Iguatemi centre. The highlight came on Wednesday with a cocktail reception that included numerous personalities headed by former F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.

The sister car of the French team’s two Morgan 2012 LMP2s that will compete in round five of the FIA World Endurance Championship this weekend crossed the Atlantic not to race but instead take pride of place in one of Sao Paulo’s most exclusive neighbourhoods. Arranged around the prototype that sat resplendent in the legendary blue and orange racing livery of Gulf Oil International were the images of photo agency DPPI Media who are exhibiting a selection of photographs depicting iconic moments and characters from endurance racing.

The promotion of the team and its constructor department Onroak Automotive, the WEC and endurance racing, in Brazil – a country traditionally known for its passion for motorsport – has been a resounding success since opening just over two weeks ago. It culminated on Wednesday 12 September with the cocktail reception organised by the team that also marked the official launch of the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo.

It was an initiative welcomed by the press who were joined by team drivers Jacques Nicolet, Matthieu Lahaye, Olivier Pla, Bertrand Baguette, Dominik Kraihamer and Alex Brundle, as well as many Brazilian and French personalities including Fittipaldi and host DJ Igor Cunha.

Amongst those invited were famous singer and presenter Sula Miranda, President of SPTuris (Sao Paulo’s tourist board) Marcelo Reder, the city’s sports department representative Antonio Moreno Neto, Sao Paulo mayoral candidate Celso Russomano, Executive Director of the Momentum agency Gustavo Fonseca, Associate Director of Nduduch Nicholas Duduch, IDORT President Elcio Guimarães, CEO of CNT television channel Osmar Gonçalves and WEC CEO Gérard Neveu.

Guests were treated to a selection of fusion cuisine inspired by both Brazil and France and prepared by young chef Morena Leite who was trained in Paris.

In staging the successful exhibition OAK Racing benefited from the invaluable assistance of Emerson Fittipaldi, the shopping centre’s management, communications agency Nduduch, photographic agency DPPI Media, the WEC and the team’s partners, especially Ecodime. Without their support this showcase could not have come to fruition.

Neveu, Fittipaldi, Nicolet and Neto then took to the stage to deliver their verdicts.

Gérard Neveu, World Endurance Championship CEO: “First of all I would like to apologise for the absence of ACO President Pierre Fillon who arrives in Brazil tomorrow (Thursday) and will not fail to visit the exhibition. The 6 Hours of Sao Paulo is an exceptional event but one that is a human story. Tonight we have with us an extraordinary businessman and very good driver, Jacques Nicolet, along with an extraordinary driver and very good businessman, Emerson Fittipaldi. It’s great that an event such as the 6 Hours Sao Paulo is a place to meet these kinds of people! Endurance racing has a tradition of engaging with fans outside of the circuit’s parameters so I would like to thank DPPI for this initiative. I also extend a big thank you to Brazil and to the city of Sao Paulo for its hospitality and reserve a special mention for Emerson Fittipaldi. Emerson, it is men like you who helped create the heyday of motorsport.”

Emerson Fittipaldi, after presenting the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo and recalling the names of various Brazilian drivers involved in the event, spoke in French: “I would also like to welcome all our French friends! We are very pleased to be staging for the first time the World Endurance Championship in Brazil. We thank the OAK Racing team and its drivers who are with us tonight for this great exhibition in the mall.”

Jacques Nicolet, OAK Racing President: “Our passion for endurance racing is the reason we are here in a country that displays the same appetite for motorsport. It’s one reason why we have organised this exhibition in Brazil. I want to add that the car is not a showcar. It is a real LMP2. If you add the engine it will start! I would like to pay particular tribute to Emerson Fittipaldi. It’s drivers like Emerson who helped to maintain my passion until contesting my first race at the age of 42.”

The exhibition will close on September 16 after the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo.

Photo by Fred Le Floc’h / DPPI

Antonio Felix da CostaIt was a hard weekend of racing for the Carlin GP3 team in Monza with Championship contender Antonio Felix da Costa failing to score points in the first race after an electronic gearbox glitch left his car stuck in sixth gear – dashing his title hopes. Da Costa was looking at serious championship points at the time after his main rival Mitch Evans was forced to watch from the sidelines following damage to his car on the first lap. Buller was involved in a brilliant fight for position during both races, finishing 10th and 12th respectively while Brundle sustained heavy damage to his car in the first race and came through the field in the second to finish 10th. Despite da Costa’s title frustration, Carlin finish the season third in the teams’ championship.

Starting from the front row of the grid the first race of the weekend got off to a messy start as the cars streamed into the first corner. Managing to take avoiding action da Costa held second place in the race before snatching the lead from Matias Laine before the end of the first lap. In taking avoiding action alongside da Costa his main championship rival Evans damaged his car and was forced into retirement – leaving the Carlin man suddenly looking like the title favourite.

Buller had also had a great start and avoided the chaotic first corner accidents however Brundle wasn’t quite so lucky from his starting position; losing his rear wing in the first corner he was black flagged a few laps later.

At the front da Costa was fighting well in the knowledge that the championship was looking good for him. He lost position to Daniel Abt and Aaro Vaino in the next couple of laps but was staying close to the two leaders and remained very much in the hunt for the race win. But disaster struck the Red Bull Junior driver with an electronic gearbox glitch left him stuck in sixth gear – and rapidly falling down through the pack. Pulling the car to the side of the road da Costa resolved the problem using the master switch to restart the car however this subsequently left him lying near the back of the field as a result.

Buller meanwhile was involved in a great battle for position with Conor Daly, Tamas Pal Kiss and Giovanni Venturini which resulted in positions changing almost every corner. Out of the battle Buller would cross the line in 11th position however a time penalty for Laine brought Buller into position to take the final point in 10th.

Da Costa was pushing hard despite his heartbreak and crossed the line in 15th place where he would start for the second race of the weekend.

With no championship to fight for da Costa started the race with the aim in mind to make his way up the field and solidify his third place in the championship standings. Once again the Carlin man was quick off the line and was eighth by the end of the first lap and challenging those ahead. Driving strongly he made up a handful of positions to fifth while Evans and Abt were in their own respective battles for championship glory. At the chequered flag, da Costa crossed the line to secure third in the championship in what has been an incredible impressive year for the Portuguese racer.

Meanwhile Brundle had started well from 23rd on the grid and was making his way through the pack. The British racer made the most of every possible overtaking opportunity and crossed the line in a solid 10th place.

Buller’s race was similar to yesterday’s with a multitude of drivers after the same position. While trying to avoid the spinning car of Laine, Buller was forced into a spin which ultimately lost him a handful of positions – taking the flag in in 14th position.

Reflecting on his championship battle, da Costa said, “Its racing and it happens. It’s a shame because the team have worked so hard and I was so, so close to the title. I could actually feel it as I was driving around yesterday and then it was snatched away from me. But we’ve had an amazing season and I’ve enjoyed the racing and working with the team.”

Trevor Carlin added, “Our GP3 team and drivers have done a fantastic job this season. Third in the drivers and teams’ standings is a great achievement, and if it hadn’t been for a very cruel stroke of luck yesterday, Antonio could have been looking at first in the championship. I think both the team and Antonio will be remembered for raw speed this season, which has given us a great foundation for the future.”

Photo by Daniel Kalisz/LAT Photographic.

Alex BrundleRound five of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo (September 15), will see Alex Brundle make his maiden appearance at the wheel of OAK Racing’s #35 Morgan 2012 LMP2 Nissan.

The Briton will be the silver grade driver on the three-man crew which also includes team regulars Bertrand Baguette and Dominik Kraihamer. French trio Matthieu Lahaye, Olivier Pla and Jacques Nicolet continue their partnership aboard the sister #24 car in Brazil, where both line-ups share a common goal: the podium.

Brundle is a promising young talent whose achievements last year earned him a place on the British Racing Drivers’ Club’s prestigious SuperStar programme. An experienced single-seater competitor who has earned podiums and pole positions in Formula 2, Formula 3 and GP3, the 22-year-old has recently dovetailed his open-wheel exploits with a successful campaign in prototype racing. This year will see him complete the full European Le Mans Series in the top-tier LMP2 class having already contested two WEC events, the Le Mans 24 Hours and last month’s 6 Hours of Silverstone.

Sébastien Philippe, OAK Racing Team Principal: “OAK Racing is very pleased to welcome Alex Brundle as the new addition to our #35 LMP2 crew for the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo. He is a fast, talented young competitor and, alongside Bertrand Baguette and Dominik Kraihamer, he forms part of a crew from whom we can expect a good result in Brazil. For the #24, we will give our all in pursuit of a podium at Interlagos having so narrowly missed out at Silverstone.

“The trip to Brazil is a first for us and I hope that the few hours of free practice will be sufficient to prepare the two cars and for the drivers to learn the circuit. Fortunately, Interlagos is not very long and the layout, particularly its tight corners, should be well suited to our cars. The Morgan 2012 LMP2s are generally comfortable with this type of track and we also benefit from good exit speed and excellent torque from our Nissan engines. These assets should play into our hands come the race.”

Alex Brundle, #35 Morgan 2012 LMP2 driver: “I was delighted to receive the call from Sébastien Philippe of OAK Racing asking me to drive at the Brazilian round of the World Endurance Championship in Sao Paulo. The OAK cars have been fierce challengers in both the ELMS and WEC and my team-mates are very strong, so I am confident we will have a good package. I am looking forward to using this opportunity to continue to carve out a career in sports car racing and I would like to extend my thanks to OAK Racing for offering me the chance to do so.”

OAK Racing and Onroak Automotive, the department that designs and builds the teams prototypes, will also be present in a more unusual setting during the Brazilian event: Sao Paulo’s prestigious JK Iguatemi shopping centre. The team’s Morgan 2012 LMP2 and endurance racing photos shot by DPPI will be displayed at the exhibition, which has been organised with the support of the WEC and is already proving a great success.

6 Hours of Sao Paulo – Schedule (local time)

Thursday 13 September
11.00 – 12.30: Free practice 1
15.30 – 17.00: Free practice 2

Friday 14 September
09.45 – 10.45: Free practice 3
14.30 – 14.50: Qualifying (LMP1 and LMP2)

Saturday 15 September
08.00 – 08.20: Warm-up
12.00 – 18.00: Race

Photo by DPPI

Antonio Felix da CostaCarlin’s GP3 squad enjoyed a quick opening session ahead of this weekend’s penultimate round of the GP3 Series. Turning 21 today Antonio Felix da Costa was the highest placed man for the majority of the session however ended Free Practice, around the wet Spa-Francorchamps circuit, in second position. Alex Brundle remained in the top five for most of the running while William Buller also had a strong showing despite carrying damage to finish 12th in the tricky conditions.

The so-called unpredictable weather at Spa predictably showered the circuit with a rain storm before and during the early morning GP3 session; heading out on a wet track the difficult conditions immediately became clear with John Wartique heavily crashing into the barriers at Eau Rouge. Although fine himself, the damage to the barriers needed a significant amount of fixing which left the session under red flag conditions for 20 minutes.

When the track went green the conditions had improved vastly which saw the times begin to quickly fall – da Costa had been holding the top spot throughout the disruption. Buller was on the pace in the early laps however his car sustained damage which meant he was unable to get the most out of the improving track.

Da Costa kept his car at the top of the timings with two very quick laps in short succession. Team mate Brundle was lying in fourth however the two Carlin men were the first to take the chequered flag; last gasp laps from Tio Elinas and Conor Daly knocked da Costa to second and Brundle to fifth as the session came to a close. Buller held on to 12th place on the drying track.

Reflecting on the disrupted session da Costa said, ‘There was a big crash early on in the session which brought everybody back into the pits. I was the fastest car before the red flag and we stayed there afterwards too however I caught a little bit of traffic in my last two laps so lost the top spot, but I’m feeling confident going into tomorrow.

‘We’ve got to the stage where we know that the car is quick in each session we go out and I really enjoy driving it so I’m looking forward to hitting the track again!’

Photo by Daniel Kalisz / LAT Photographic.

After six rounds the 2012 GP3 Series is coming to a close with the penultimate event of the season at Spa this weekend, in what has so far been a strong season for Carlin. Coming off the back of a four week break and following a dominant weekend in Hungary, the entire team look to continue their recent form this weekend in Belgium with drivers Antonio Felix da Costa, Alex Brundle and William Buller.

Last time out in Hungary was Carlin’s strongest weekend in the GP3 Series so far, with da Costa becoming the first driver to win both races in a single weekend. In addition, British racer Brundle achieved his first podium position in the series with a strong third place finish during race two.

The Spa-Francorchamps race circuit is renowned as being one of the most challenging on the calendar. Corners such as Eau Rouge and Blanchimont, as well as elevation changes and the changeable weather conditions, make this race one of the most exciting events on the calendar to watch.

In the four week break the Carlin men have been keeping their race craft well and truly up to speed as they compete in other series. Buller has been out on track at both the Nürburgring and Zandvoort for the FIA European Formula Three Championship taking a win and a second place, as well as a strong points haul, over the course of the two rounds for Carlin.

Brundle and da Costa were both out at Silverstone with the World Endurance Championship and the Formula Renault 3.5 Series respectively where both drivers enjoyed strong races.

Lying third in the championship da Costa said of this weekend ‘It’s going to be great to be back in the GP3 car after such a good weekend in Hungary. We know we have the pace to come away with some strong results and so we will push 100% every time we go out. I love Spa as a circuit and I’ve won there in the past so it should be a good weekend for us. I’m too far behind in the points to be thinking about the championship so unlike Mitch [Evans] and Aaro [Vainio] I can just concentrate on taking risks and winning races.”

Coming off the back of a successful mid-season test around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Carlin’s GP3 team now look ahead to a weekend of racing around the Valencia street circuit. The next round in Spain marks the third event in a season where Carlin has already clinched points in every race season, with drivers Antonio Felix da Costa, Alex Brundle and Will Buller.

Antonio Felix da Costa took a brilliant second place finish during the prestigious Monaco GP weekend last time out. The Portuguese driver has been on the pace all season and having secured pole position in Barcelona Felix da Costa has since gone on to clinch a podium position and is now lying in a strong fourth position in the championship.

Alex Brundle makes a return to the Carlin team after missing the final test due to prior Le Mans 24hr race commitments. Driving alongside his father, ex-Formula 1 driver and race pundit Martin Brundle, the 21 year old came eighth in his class during the historic race in France and now looks forward to re-familiarising himself with his GP3 car.

Having recently topped the final GP3 Series test of the season at the Valencia Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Buller looks ahead to the third race of the season. The Northern Irishman completed a comprehensive test with the team in Valencia where his time was unable to be beaten throughout the entirety of the two days of running. Buller has also been competing in the FIA European Formula Three championship where he has already taken a win and currently lies in fourth position in the championship.

Looking forward to the street race Buller said, ‘I can’t wait to get back out on track after what was a great test for the entire team in Valencia last week. We did a lot of work for the upcoming races throughout the two day test so I’m looking forward to continuing with our season’

The GP3 drivers will be on track for a 30 minute free practice session at 08.30 local time on Friday.

William BullerBritish team Carlin have completed a strong final pre-season GP3 test this week, ahead of the first race of the season in Barcelona next month. Carlin racer Antonio Felix da Costa has been consistently among the top three and finished yesterday’s running second overall. William Buller and Alex Brundle were also on the pace, setting the fifth and 14th quickest times yesterday.

The final pre-season test at the historic British circuit provided drivers with the last opportunity to prepare for the 2012 GP3 Series before the season gets underway in Barcelona in May. As the cars took to the cold track on for the first day of testing on Tuesday morning, rain looked a likely possibility. However the skies cleared and it was da Costa who quickly set the quickest time in between red flag periods. Team mates Brundle and Buller were also producing great times on the dry track – easily placing them within the top eight.

As the session came to a halt for lunch da Costa’s time was knocked off the top spot by MW Arden driver Mitch Evans meaning that the Carlin man finished the session in a very strong second position. Also having set fast times throughout the session Buller and Brundle finished comfortably in the top 6, setting the fourth and sixth quickest laps respectively.

The afternoon session saw mixed weather conditions with rain falling toward the tail end of the day, meaning the majority of the quickest times from the morning session still stood. At the end of the first day of running da Costa was third overall, Buller fifth and Brundle eighth.

The second and final day of testing was also marred with mixed conditions leading to multiple red flags. The slippery track didn’t worry da Costa however, who set the fastest time and despite others battling to steal his position, the Carlin driver finished the morning session as the quickest man on track. Buller was also on the pace again and made it two Carlin cars in the top five, while Brundle saw both his new tyre runs ruined by red flags and was 14th quickest.

Da Costa’s best lap from the morning session was enough to make his second fastest of the day overall, just behind MW Arden driver Mitch Evans.

Reflecting on the test, the Portuguese racer said, “It was a really good test for us at Silverstone. The car felt quick in all conditions and on new and old tyres which is encouraging. I still feel like we can make some improvements but we’re in really good shape ahead of the first race of the season and I can’t wait to get to Barcelona.”

Trevor Carlin added, “The team have completed an extremely encouraging test at Silverstone this week, and all three drivers have been amongst the front runners at some point. Antonio’s previous experience in the series is clearly paying off, and Alex and Will have continued to improve with every session in the car. With a very strong GP3 driver line-up now confirmed, the team are pushing harder than ever as we head to the first race of the season confident that we have a good package to challenge for race wins.”