Blog#4 Spa Race Weekend

Olly Rae - Enigma Motorsport Dallara F301 Renault SodemoI arrived in the afternoon at Spa with my engineer and it gave us both a good couple of hours to go over a plan for the weekend. Whilst planning we decided to walk and talk and took a stroll around the circuit. It’s always interesting to see how banked and steep some corners are because you really don’t get that impression when you’re driving the circuit.

 

The next day (Thursday) we had two 30min practice sessions. I focused on learning the circuit, gears, corners etc and put into practice what I had learnt in theory. After a good day of testing I was feeling quite confident coming into qualifying with good pace. Friday was two qualifying sessions; we had two sets of slicks for the weekend, which we only ended up using for Friday because of the wet Races to come Saturday/Sunday.

 

I had issues with my throttle cable during first qualifying, somehow it was constantly getting stuck under braking and after a couple of laps it eventually come off but luckily I was coming into the pits and had enough speed to roll the car to a stop. Session over and a disappointing Q1 with a poor time to take from it, 3 seconds off my fastest in practice on Thursday. I put it behind me and moved ahead for Q2 and focused on maximizing my efforts there. We made some minor improvements to the car and I gathered some information for myself on improvements around the track. We had a good start as I was one of the first ones out, out of 50 cars on the grid, as it was a combined few championships.

 

I think it was my second lap when I couldn’t get it into 2nd or 4th gear all of a sudden. I quickly got it into the pits so the team could see what was wrong. The bracket that holds the gears tight so they can go into gear had snapped off near the engine and this put me out of most the session.  The team managed to fix it with 4mins to go and I was only able to do one flying lap. But was held up with traffic on track and I ended Q2 with 13th position. A very disappointing Friday, I was gutted and frustrated that I couldn’t maximize some true pace.

 

Race One on Saturday and I was starting 6th on grid, it was a very wet day and it was a safety car start to avoid carnage between slower cars.  I got myself into 5th  on the first lap  and held it for the whole Race. Officially finishing 3rd in the Championship and 1st in Class. There was two cars who raced that came as invite only and where not a part of the championship.

 

Race Two on Sunday saw me starting 13th on grid. It was a wet race again and after analyzing Race One’s performance, improvements can always be made. It was a rolling start and coming out of the last corner before the start I was waiting for the light to go green, to bury the throttle, or at least feed it gently and get a good start. By the first lap I had made up 8 positions to come around the start/finish line in 5th. A car had come off on the last couple of laps and this put me in 4th to finish overall. A good result to make up a bad Friday; Officially finishing 3rd in the championship and 1st in Class.

 

Taking a quick glance back at the weekend, I had a great experience for my first time on track at Spa; beautiful place, beautiful people, a very special time. Many thanks to my Team Enigma Motorsport and the lovely people who support me. Next Round at Oulton Park, 18th-19th of July. Looking forward to it. The training begins!

 

 

Blog#3 Thoughts on Rockingham

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With Round 3 at Rockingham in England completed and having learnt a lot on and off track, I had a quick break and started to look ahead with Round 4 at Spa in Belgium. Never having raced or been to Spa, there was a lot of information to learn and things I still need to learn before I drive on this track. It was great to have confirmed this race weekend, being my first race in Europe outside of Australia and England.

From observing onboard footage, I quickly got up to speed with the direction and corners of the track. I think I will be hitting the maximum a Formula 3 car can go at Spa. The straights are very long and the gearing will have to be suited to this condition. Having a good two test sessions Thursday will help me get to grips with the track and work out a good setup for the car and maximize our top speed. I believe we have two sets of tyres for the weekend as oppose to just one set, so it will make things a little more interesting.

There are a couple of great places to really push and be quick around here and that will be crucial. Also plenty of opportunities to overtake and defend around this track. The track being hidden away in the woods is what makes it special for me; I have a couple of days to really appreciate this circuit before switching on for the race weekend. I’d like to thank my Team Enigma Motorsport and everyone who supports me for this weekend; I think it will be a great time to maximize results.