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Archive for the ‘ GP3 ’ Category

Conor Daly proudly waves the American flag following his GP3 win in Barcelona, Spain.
(Photo: LAT/GP3.com)

Conor Daly didn’t get much sleep the night prior to the GP3 season-opening race in Barcelona, Spain. He tossed and turned with anticipation and excitement, not fear.

Preseason testing had gone well and he was anxious to embark upon his sophomore season in European racing. Yet the pressure was still lurking for the young American, relentlessly building despite his optimistic approach to racing and life abroad.

On May 12, 2012, the wait was over. It was time to qualify.

The session started out perfect, Daly’s first flying lap put him on pole position. It didn’t last, however, as he was quickly bumped back to seventh. Undeterred, he laid down another solid lap placing him second for the start of the opening race.

A misjudged start, a slipping clutch, and a misadventure at the exit of the chicane following minimal contact with a menacing curb during the opening lap quickly erased all hope of a win and instead forced Daly to fight for a top-10 finish.

Not that he was having a bad race. He wasn’t. In the ultra-competitive world of GP3 — a series chock full of young drivers hoping for a chance at F1 — a minimal mistake quickly compounds and appears much bigger than it really is, and that was the case in Daly’s opening lap of the season-opening race.

Still, he finished sixth and would start race two from third on the grid.

“I really beat myself up after performances like that,” Daly wrote in his Racer.com blog. “I was in a position to be successful and squandered it. However, I’m also quite a positive person and enjoy focusing on my next opportunity to make the best of my time on track.”

And that’s exactly what he did. Daly made the most of his next opportunity aggressively passing Romanian Robert Visoiu in the grass to lead the field into turn one during race two. His start was perfect, immediately erasing all remaining thoughts of earlier imperfection. He had a new task to focus on.

Following the fight for the lead in turn one, the race was over — at least at the sharp end of the field. Daly continually clocked fast laps leaving his formidable foes far behind during the 16-lap sprint race. As the race wore on, the gap grew. Then the checkered flag waved and his team — Lotus GP — handed him an American flag and he embraced his father Derek with a hug. Meanwhile, his mom screamed and cheered while watching on television in Indianapolis — having just received the ultimate Mother’s Day gift.

Daly had made history becoming the first American driver to win a GP3 race. Twitter feeds exploded with the news and Daly’s Facebook page was quickly littered with congratulatory comments.

Shortly after the race, Daly (@ConorDaly22) tweeted: “WE DID IT!! P1!! #USA #USA thank you so much @ARTGP ! What an incredible day. Feels so good! Happy mothers day Mom :)”

Good friend American Josef Newgarden and former Indy Lights teammate at Sam Schmidt Motorsports — who currently races in IndyCar and spent the 2010 season in GP3 — picked up a few chuckles post-race when he tweeted : “Holy Santa Clause Sh*t, how about @ConorDaly22 taking victory in Barcelona this morning!#America”

Needless to say friends, family, and followers were all proud of Conor’s achievement. The pressure was lifted and now that he’s earned that first win, many more are sure to follow.

This week, 20-year-old Daly is taking another step in his burgeoning career: testing a Force India Formula One car. Make sure to follow along for what is sure to be an illustrious career in motorsport. This is just the start and Daly has the holeshot.

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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GP3 Signings Update

Posted March 20, 2011 at 10:28 pm GP3, Signing Comments

The GP3 Series has had several commits for 2011 since my last update. Here’s the latest…

António Félix da Costa – Status Grand Prix: Status GP added Félix da Costa to its lineup in mid February. The talented Portuguese driver will join Alexander Sims in 2011, adding incredible depth to the team’s roster. Félix da Costa had a solid career in karting before making a successful transition to cars. In 2009, he won the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Championship (9 wins, 11 podiums). Last season, competing in the F3 Euro Series, he secured three wins and four podiums. He also completed a successful Formula One test with Force India. The 19-year-old sampled GP3 as well, earning a best finish of sixth in four starts, while driving for Carlin. During the off season, he topped the GP3 time charts at both the Jerez and Estoril tests — illustrating his skill behind the wheel. Watch for great things from Status GP this season with the combination of Félix da Costa and Alexander Sims.

Doru Sechelariu – Tech 1: Romanian driver Sechelariu will join Aaro Vainio this season at Tech 1. The 18-year-old pilot spent the 2010 season in the GP3 Series with Tech 1 and will look to improve on his rookie season in 2011. He scored three top-10 finishes last season, including back-to-back ninth-place finishes at Istanbul. He struggled with consistency last year, but showed promise. Teaming with a familiar group and Vainio will definitely help Sechelariu in 2011. Watch for a much improved season. By all reports, Sechelariu has been working extremely hard this winter – focusing on his overall fitness. His improved fitness level should help consistency behind-the-wheel.

Mitch Evans – MW Arden: Mitchell Evans will be one of the youngest drivers in the field this season at just 16-years old. But his age shouldn’t be a factor. The young New Zealand driver has already proved himself plenty capable of steering a formula car around a curvy circuit. In 2009, he finished runner-up in the Australian Formula Ford Championship with six wins and 15 podiums. Last year, he made the jump to cars with downforce winning the Toyota Racing Series three wins, eight pole positions and 10 podiums. Additionally, he finished second in the Australian F3 Gold Championship with eight wins and 16 podiums. He tested with MW Arden at Estoril during the 2010 post-season tests. I’m excited to watch Evans this year, he is an excellent find for Julian Rouse, Arden’s team manager.

Lewis Williamson – MW Arden: Rouse picked up another solid recruit in 21-year-old British driver Lewis Williamson. The talented driver was awarded the BRDC Young Driver of the Year award in December and proved exceptionally quick in a GP3 car during the GP3 postseason test at Estoril. In 2010, he finished runner-up in the Formula Renault UK Championship, logging five wins five pole positions and nine podiums. In 20 starts, he finished inside the top-ten 18 times.

Maxim Zimin – Jenzer Motorsport: Russian driver Maxim Zimin will join the GP3 Series in 2011 with a familiar support staff around him. The 16-year-old pilot, who boasts a fairly diverse karting background, will rejoin Jenzer Motosport after spending the past two seasons with the team in both the Italian Formula Abarth series and the Swiss Formula Renault 2.0 series. In 2009, he ran two races in both the FR 2.0 Italian series and the Eurocup. This will likely be a challenging jump for the young driver but remaining with Jenzer will certainly increase his chance for success. This will likely be a two-year program for Zimin.

Rio Haryanto – Manor Racing: Indonesian driver Haryanto will rejoin Manor Racing in 2011 for his sophomore season in the GP3 Series. Haryanto, who showed strong flashes of speed and skill last season, will look to build some consistency this season. He earned a pole position and a win at Istanbul last year, while also grabbing two more podiums with a second at Silverstone and a third at Monza en route to fifth in the drivers’ standings. If the 18-year-old driver is able to up his consistency in 2011, he will likely be near the top of the final standings once again.

Matias Lane – Manor Racing: Lane will join the Manor Racing team this season after a fairly mediocre year in the F3 Euro Series in 2010. The 20-year-old Finnish driver secured 11 top-10 finishes last season with a best result of sixth at Brands Hatch in September. Lane was always impressive in the karting ranks, but has really moved up the car ranks quickly. If he’s able to make this a two year stop, he should produce some really solid results. Teaming up with Manor Racing and having both Haryanto and Quaife-Hobbs as mentors will definitely help. Watch for good things from Lane as he adapts to the nuances of the GP3 Dallara.

Adrian Quaife-Hobbs – Manor Racing: Quaife-Hobbs is another driver who proved his car control and speed, but struggled with consistency. It’s nice to see him returning for a sophomore campaign in the GP3 Series, especially with a familiar team in Manor Racing. The 20-year-old British driver opened the 2010 season with four-straight F3 Euro Series top-10 finishes, but struggled in the GP3 ranks. By season’s end, he logged four top-10 results, including a third at Spa-Francorchamps. I’m not really sure what to expect from him this season, but he will be fun to watch and is capable of surprising onlookers.

Tom Dillmann – Carlin: Frenchman Tom Dillmann has signed with Carlin for the 2011 season and will team with American Conor Daly for the upcoming season. Dillmann won the 2010 German F3 Championship with six wins and nine podiums. The 21-year-old driver has flown under the radar of some due to funding woes and that could be the case again this year. But, he’s a talented driver and it’s nice to see him getting a shot in GP3. He struggled in his F3 Euro Series starts with the exception of a third and fifth at the Nürburgring in 2008. I expect we’ll see him getting quicker throughout the 2011 season.

Zoel Amberg – Atech CRS – Swiss driver Zoel Amberg has signed on for a two-year deal with Atech CRS. Amberg has been relatively quick in cars, but he’s moved up fast and hasn’t exactly faced top-of-the-line competition. This will undoubtedly be a learning year for the 18-year-old driver, but I’m expecting him to improve as the season wears on. Amberg didn’t having a very good showing during his test at Paul Ricard, but this is an insanely big jump and it’s going to take time. He will join Nick Yelloly and Marlon Stockinger at Atech CRS this season.

Vittorio Ghirelli – Jenzer Motorsport: Vittorio Ghirelli completed the Jenzer Motorsport lineup over the weekend by committing to the 2011 GP3 Series. Italian racer Ghirelli is returning to the GP3 Series for his sophomore campaign after running with Atech CRS in 2010. Last year was a huge jump (probably one he shouldn’t have made so soon), but it’s nice to see him return for another year of development. His best finish last season was 15th (both Hockenheim and the Hungaroring). He’s young and if he makes GP3 a multi-year stop, his results will improve. Watch for race-by-race improvement in 2011.

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Conor Daly to GP3 and Indy Lights

Posted February 17, 2011 at 6:21 pm GP3, Indy Lights, Signing Comments

Conor Daly
(Photo:  Junior Open Wheel Talent)

Conor Daly will run a full GP3 campaign in 2011 with Carlin. In addition to his European endeavors, he will also run select non-conflicting Firestone Indy Lights events with Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

The 19-year-old Indiana resident won the 2010 Star Mazda Championship — driving for Juncos Racing — with seven wins and 12 podiums in 13 starts. A portion of his 2011 season will be funded by Mazda as part of the Mazda Road to Indy.

Daly tested a GP3 machine with Carlin at Jerez last October, impressing team owner Trevor Carlin with his outright speed and detailed feedback.

This will be an extremely busy year for the talented up-and-comer, but I expect Daly will adapt just fine.

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Josef Newgarden, who was one of 19 drivers invited to the FIA Young Driver Academy Shootout, has chosen to forgo the invite to Melk, Austria in order to pursue an Indy Lights ride with Andretti Autosport stateside.

Newgarden made the following comment in a release:

“While my ultimate goal remains to compete in the Formula One World Championship, in recent days it has become clear that the best opportunity I would have to further my career with a championship-caliber team this season would be in the Firestone Indy Lights series with Andretti Autosport,” said Josef. “While it was a very difficult decision to miss the FIA Young Driver Excellence Academy shootout, J-F and the rest of the Andretti team really wanted me in the car for the Phoenix test. Since I only have a limited amount of time in an Indy Lights car, every testing mile will be precious if we hope to contend for the championship this year. I extend my sincere thanks to Nick Craw and everyone at the FIA who was involved in my nomination to participate in such a prestigious competition, and I wish all of the competitors the best of luck, particularly my fellow American, Alexander Rossi.”

Newgarden, who spent last season in the GP3 Series, recently traveled to the Andretti Autosport shop for a seat-fitting in preparation for an upcoming Indy Lights test at Phoenix International Raceway.

The FIA Invite was a pretty big opportunity to pass up, so it’s probably safe to assume that Newgarden will be announced as a full-time commit with Andretti-Autosport for the 2011 season. Stay tuned for future updates.

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Monaco removed from GP3 calendar

Posted February 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm GP3, Schedule Comments

It was announced this morning that Monaco will no longer be on the 2011 GP3 schedule. Apparently it was decided that there just isn’t enough time to fit in the GP3 race.

This is a pretty big loss for the Series as well as for race fans attending Monaco.

GP3 officials have added an additional two-day test  — with the venue and date to be announced in the coming weeks — to the 2011 calendar in an effort to provide the drivers with more seat time. The championship will now be run over eight rounds.

See the updated schedule below…

[Continue Reading…]

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GP3 Signings

Posted January 21, 2011 at 11:57 am GP3, Signing Comments

The GP3 Series has made a few driver announcements heading into its second season. Without further ado…

Pedro Henrique Nunes-Lotus/ART: Nunes confirmed a return to GP3 with ART in early December. The 22-year-old Brazilian struggled with consistency in 2010, but produced three top-10 finishes: Cataluyna, 6th; Hockenheim, 6th; and Spa-Francorchamps, 7th.  His finish at Spa really stood out, illustrating his potential, as he drove from 29th to 7th. His familiarity with the team and the car should help his stats in 2011.

Aaro Vainio-Tech 1 Racing: Vainio will be one of the top newcomers to watch this season. The 17-year-old Finnish driver has a tremendous karting resume and produced some very solid results (2 poles, 5 podiums) in Formula Renault 2.0 last season en route to fourth-place in the drivers’ championship. This will be a big jump, but I fully expect Vainio to make a splash by the end of the season as he adapts to the GP3 car.

Alexander Sims-Status GP: Sims, a talented 22-year-old British driver, will make the jump to GP3 for 2011 after spending the last two years developing his craft in the F3 Euro Series. Sims has truly diversified his experience by competing in various karting classes and cars over the past several seasons, which should aid his ability to adapt to a GP3 car. He finished fourth in the F3 Euro Series last season with one win (Paul Ricard) and five podiums. Status has proven itself as a top team in GP3 and Sims was very quick while testing for the team at Jerez. This should be a combination to watch in 2011.

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GP3 Driver Announcements for 2011

Posted December 8, 2010 at 3:05 pm GP3, Signing Comments

There have been quite a few GP3 drivers sign for a 2011 campaign following my last update.  Here’s a quick look at the latest drivers to commit for ’11.

Nick Yelloly-Atech CRS GP: Yelloly committed to Atech CRS GP early last month. The 19-year-old British driver spent the 2010 season with Atech in the Formula Renault UK Championship, finishing seventh overall with one win and three podiums. His lone win came during the final weekend of the year at Brands Hatch after starting from pole position.Yelloly has been busy testing both a GP3 and a Formula Master car this winter.

Marlon Stockinger-Atech CRS GP: Stockinger will re-join Yelloly under the Atech CRS GP tent in 2011. The two ran the Formula Renault UK Championship together in 2010, with Stockinger finishing eighth overall, just behind Yelloly. Stockinger rounded out the year with one win, three podiums and two pole positions. The win came at Croft in late June, where he started from pole. The 19-year-old Swiss-Filipino driver struggled with consistency last year, but showcased his speed on several occasions. Sticking with a familiar team and teammate should aide his progression in 2011.

Valtteri Bottas-ART: Late last month, Bottas announced that he will be joining James Calado at Lotus ART next season. The combo of Bottas and Calado is potent and ART shouldn’t be counted out for another championship in 2011 (they won the inaugural championship with Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez). Bottas, 21, has been with ART for the last two seasons in the Formula 3 Euro Series, where he has finished third both years. Last season he scored two wins and landed on the podium eight times. Bottas became the first repeat winner of the ultra-competitive RTL GP Master of Formula 3 this season at Zandvoort.

Willi Steindl-RSC Mucke Motorsport: Steindl, who spent the last two years in the ATS Formula 3 Cup, previously raced with Mucke Motorsport in the ADAC Formula Master Championship in 2008. The 18-year-old Austrian showed promise during the GP3 winter testing this off season. He finished seventh in the 2010 German ATS Formula 3 Cup with one win and two podiums.

Simon Trummer-MW Arden: Trummer, 21, has committed to another season of GP3 competition by signing with MW Arden after a successful test at Jerez, where he topped 29 other drivers on the second day of testing. The Swiss pilot was forced to miss a few races in 2010 after suffering a serious back injury at Hockenheim. Ironically, his best race of the season was his very first race in the car; Cataluyna — 6th after starting 10th. He struggled to get the results he was looking for last year, but perhaps he will gel better with MW Arden in 2011.

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GP3 Updates- 2011

Nigel Melker confirmed a return to GP3 competition in 2011 with Mucke Motorsport.  The 19-year-old Dutchman had a promising start to the season, but ultimately ended the year with only a single top-ten finish.  I’d say a return is a good idea.  He showed flashes of speed this year, so if he continues to develop, he has the potential to be a full-time front runner. At Monza, his final race of the season, he drove from 26th to 6th. Not bad.

Apparently the initials NM are common among GP3 returnees. Eighteen-year-old Swiss driver Nico Muller has confirmed a return as well. Muller, who finished third in the 2010 drivers’ championship with two wins and four podiums, will, again, drive for Jenzer Motorsport. It goes without saying, he should be a front runner in 2011.

Conor Daly, who won the 2010 Star Mazda Championship, announced today that he will be testing a GP3 car with both Manor Motorsport and Status Grand Prix during the upcoming winter tests at Estoril and Jerez. If Daly is able to get sufficient seat time and secure a deal with a solid team, he should be a front runner in 2011. Obviously a lot can change between now and the start of the 2011 season, so we will just have to wait and see what develops for the young American.

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Calado to GP3 with ART

Posted September 27, 2010 at 9:23 am GP3, Signing Comments

British F3 standout James Calado will join team ART next season in the GP3 Series.  The 21-year-old is making the jump to GP3 with the help of the Racing Steps Foundation.  This deal will mark the first time that the RSF has worked with a non-British racing team.

Calado is full of talent and will be a driver to watch next season, especially under the guidance of Frederic Vasseur and team ART.  The French team won the inaugural GP3 Championship this season with Esteban Gutierrez.

Competing with Carlin in the 2010 British F3 Series, Calado compiled five wins, 12 podiums, and two pole-positions. In 2009, he finished runner-up in Formula Renault UK with eight wins and 12 podiums.  Watch for big things from this up-and-comer next season in GP3.

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Hylkema to test GP3 car with Manor

Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:58 am GP3, Test Comments

Thomas Hylkema plans to take part in the GP3 tests next month at both Estoril and Jerez with Manor Motorsport.  The 22-year-old Dutchman has spent the last three seasons in a Formula Renault car.  This year, in Formula Renault UK, he has one pole position (Croft) and five top-10 finishes.

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