DRIVER DIARY: EURO INVESTMENT

Sorry there’s been no diary update for a few weeks, but things have been a little busy on the racing front, with back-to-back Formula Ford Eurocup events in Belgium.

Having shared its inaugural ‘round’ with the British series at Brands Hatch in June, the Eurocup was hosted by the Dutch championship at both Spa-Francorchamps and Zolder in July, and will conclude with a fourth event, again sharing with the British series when we go to Zandvoort in a week’s time.

The Eurocup isn’t actually a championship, but rather a series of individual events, and that means that we were able to go to Belgium without the pressure of having to rack up points. That, in turn, allowed the Fluid Motorsport Developments team to introduce a handful of updates for the Van Diemen I have been racing all season.

Everything they say about Spa is true. With all of its elevation changes, it is probably the most dramatic circuit I have ever raced at, and nothing in Britain comes close, even though we have some impressive circuits of our own. I can see why so many F1 drivers rate it amongst their favourite venues.

We had tested there a few weeks before the Eurocup round, and found that the fast and flowing layout suited the Van Diemen. That belief was carried over into qualifying, where we managed two top six starts, and things were looking good for the three races.

The first outing lived up to Formula Ford’s reputation, with a lot of passing and re-passing among the top six as well pulled a gap on the rest of the field. Although I was up as high as third at one point, however, I had to settle for sixth at the end, but it was still a promising result for me and the team.

Because of that, the rest of the weekend was something of a disappointment therefore, as I was bundled out of the race at turn on of race two, contact on the run to La Source leaving my right rear wheel flapping in the breeze, and another incident at the Bus Stop chicane in race three meant that I dropped to the rear of the field and had to play catch-up for the rest of the race.

In some ways, it was good that Zolder followed so quickly after Spa, as it gave us a chance to get back into it and not dwell on the frustration of the previous event. I was only at home for a couple of days before heading back out to Belgium, and was determined to put things right.

Zolder could not be more of a contrast to its rival, being largely flat, but it is still a challenge. We only had two races there, as we were supporting Superleague Formula, but the racing was as intense as ever, with the Dutch, Belgian and Scandinavian drivers all knowing the circuit a little better than us.

Even though we didn’t have as much testing there, the Fluid team was happy with fifth and sixth places in qualifying, and things were looking promising in race one – until the gearbox gave up. As you will see from the photo that accompanies this dairy entry, there are some vicious kerbs at Zolder, and we think that running over these led to the problem, which meant that I stopped on the final lap and didn’t see the chequered flag.
Happily, race two was much better and, after a typical FFord battle that saw positions changing with every lap, I managed to move up one place over my grid position to finish fifth, chasing hard after Geoff Uhrhane, who had one of the races at Spa.

Even though we were pleased with the results in Belgium, it was hard to determine just how much difference the changes had made to the car, and it won’t be until we get back to a circuit where he already have a lot of data that we will be able to see how much of an improvement it is. The good thing, however, is that it clearly hasn’t slowed me down!

There are a few weeks off between Zolder and Zandvoort and, with college over for the summer, I have been able to take advantage of a little R&R in Spain. I am glad to say that I passed my first year of college, so I can look forward to returning in September, by which time we’ll have a few more races under our belt, including supporting the DTM at Brands Hatch.

Until then,

Matt

 

Article created by Craig Llewellyn.