Cameron Twynham moved to the top of the European F3 Open Copa Class standings thanks to his second victory of the season at the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit last weekend.
That was some achievement given this was the Market Harborough driver’s maiden visit to the revered Belgian Grand Prix venue which boasts the feared Eau Rouge and Pouhon corners amid its fast and flowing 4.3-mile layout. Indeed, the weekend’s second race would serve as a reminder of the circuit’s potential pitfalls…
With just six points between Twynham and the championship top spot ahead of this season’s final three rounds, Spa represented an ideal opportunity to claw back even more ground. And the Team West-Tec driver duly obliged during the weekend’s opening race on Saturday.
Spa’s daunting 20-turn rollercoaster had posed few problems during the morning’s qualifying session, with Twynham claiming an excellent second on the grid. A customary strong start then helped the 17-year-old immediately vault into the class lead at La Source, an advantage he would maintain over the first six laps.
After looking comfortable out front a problem with the left-rear tyre began to dramatically affect his car’s handling. But with crucial championship points at stake he battled on, stoutly defending his position over the remaining laps to notch up victory and, with it, assume the championship lead by four points.
“Initially I didn’t realise I’d won!” revealed Twynham. “With my car handling so badly I was unable to hold off one of the other Copa cars and thought I was second. It wasn’t until I got back to the pits that I realised the driver was actually unlapping himself, which made me the winner. To score victory at a circuit as special as Spa on my very first appearance here is a fantastic feeling, especially given how hard I’d fought with the tyre problem for much of the race. Dunlop introduced a new softer compound this weekend and, as normal, we decided to run two sets in qualifying and then one of those for the first race. Unbeknown to us the extra mileage meant it wasn’t capable of lasting the distance, so while everyone around me – including my main title rivals – started with a fresh set and were fine, by mid-race I had run out of grip.”
Sunday morning’s qualifying session took place in wet conditions, another new experience for Twynham whose response was to set the fastest lap by over a second before red flags temporarily halted the session. When it resumed the drying track would benefit those last to set a time, and although Cameron improved to provisionally claim pole, two subsequent late laps from others would push him down to third, albeit still ahead of his championship rivals.
Come the race any thoughts of adding to his championship lead were swiftly eradicated when a heavy accident at Les Combes on the opening lap necessitated a Safety Car. As the leaders braked hard those in the tightly bunched pack behind were unable to react quickly enough.
“Everyone was very close together and although I hit the brakes in time those behind weren’t as quick,” recounts Cameron. “Someone went right over the back of my car and began to roll, while the chain reaction continued across the track. We were very lucky that no one was seriously injured. A lot of people came off worse than me but my car was wrecked and out on the spot.”
With his main championship rival finishing fourth, the pair head to Monza in Italy on October 5/6 joint top of the standings, with a total of 40 points still available from the remaining two rounds.
“Overall I’m really happy with the weekend,” added Cameron. “We couldn’t have achieved anything more given the circumstances and have successfully closed the championship gap. Consistency will be key over the final four races so it’s imperative that we finish well in all of them. We’re now right in contention.”
Click here to see the multi-car accident that forced Cameron to retire from Sunday’s race.
British racing driver Cameron Twynham returns to European F3 Open action at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend (7/8 September) firmly in the hunt for this year’s Copa Class title.
Almost two months will have passed since the championship’s previous round at Silverstone where two second place finishes helped the 17-year-old Market Harborough ace close to within six points of the series lead.
And a similar performance around Belgium’s revered grand prix venue this weekend could see Twynham leapfrog long-time points leader Richard Gonda for the first time since winning the opening race of the campaign. Since then consistency has proven a major weapon in the Team West-Tec driver’s armoury, with half a dozen podium finishes helping to chip away at the more experienced Slovakian’s advantage.
With a possible 60 points still available from the remaining three events, Twynham is fully aware that his season is entering a critical phase at Spa.
“We’re at the business end of the campaign now so it’s more important than ever to remain consistent over the final six races,” confirms Cameron. “I’ve not won as many times as I’d have liked, which is a little frustrating, but we’ve always been there or there abouts in terms of pace. But we’ve also understood the bigger picture and that’s allowed me to pick up more points over a weekend than my rivals.
“To be six points behind Richard at this stage of the season, given our comparative levels of experience, is a fantastic achievement. But I don’t want to dwell on that too much. We’re here to win the championship and to achieve that we’ll probably need to score heavily in all of the remaining races. Of course it would help if a few of those were wins, but I’m not going to change my approach.”
While the summer break usually offers an opportunity to relax and recharge, Twynham has instead been focusing on improving his fitness ahead of the championship run-in.
“Being out of the car for so long gets quite boring, so I’ve been doing all I can to remain race-sharp. Aside from the British F3 outing in mid-August, I’ve been doing a lot of simulator work to prepare for Spa, a track that will be new to me this year. Physical training never stops either and to that end I’ve really pushed myself over the summer. Ultimately it could make the difference between winning and losing the title.”
Motors TV will have the weekend’s opening race live on Saturday, followed by full delayed-as-live coverage of the second on Sunday afternoon. Check local listings for specific times.
Friday 6 September:
Free Practice 1: 11:05 – 11:35
Free Practice 2: 15:20 – 15:50
Saturday 7 September:
Qualifying 1: 09:45 – 10:15
Race 1: 15:00 (13 laps)
Sunday 8 September:
Qualifying 2: 09:00 – 09:30
Race 2: 13:30 (13 laps)
*All times local
Cameron Twynham adapted quickly to an unfamiliar car to finish on the National Class podium in each of last weekend’s three British Formula 3 races at Brands Hatch (10/11 August).
The 17-year-old European F3 Open regular swapped his usual Dallara F308 chassis for the newer F312 model at the Kent venue, where he was making a second British F3 appearance of the year following a podium treble at Silverstone in May.
Still adjusting to his new Team West-Tec car, Twynham qualified third for the opening race but was immediately able to snatch P2 when the pole-sitter failed to get away from the grid. After applying pressure to the leader and remaining within one second of top-spot for much of the race, he would eventually settle for a runner-up finish.
Improving his grid slot to second for race two, Twynham maintained position during the early stages, soaking up heavy pressure from behind until he was finally overhauled on lap six. The Market Harborough racer didn’t allow that to faze him however, managing to remain with the lead duo to the flag and secure third place.
Twynham began the final race from P3 and enjoyed an excellent getaway, only to drop back to fourth when he made an attempt for P2. However a collision between two rivals ahead of him made that third, and Twynham wasted little time in going on the offensive and climbing a further spot to second. He would take the chequered flag in the same position, continuing his 100% record of British F3 National Class podiums.
Indeed, Twynham has now taken a total of 14 podium finishes from 17 races during his maiden season aboard F3 machinery, a highly impressive achievement for the 17-year-old. The weekend’s results see him climb back up to third in the National Class standings having recorded the highest number of points at the Brands Hatch event.
Twynham will return to action at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on 7/8 September when he will resume his bid for the European F3 Open Copa Class title.
Cameron Twynham: "Overall I'm extremely happy with how the weekend went. This was my first time competing with the Dallara F312 chassis and to score three podium finishes was very satisfying, as well as providing a real confidence boost.
"It's well-established that Brands Hatch is a tricky circuit to pass on, so I'm not too frustrated to have missed out on victory this weekend. I was getting to know the car throughout the event which, while challenging, was a great learning experience that I hope will stand me in good stead for the future.
"I'd like to say a big thank you to my sponsors, MRE and Geodis Wilson, for giving me the opportunity to race this weekend. I'd also really like to thank everyone who turned out to cheer me on at Brands Hatch and throughout the season. I hope I can reward all of their support with more good results at Spa next month."
Two superb runner-up spots on home turf at Silverstone last weekend helped British racing driver Cameron Twynham close to within just six points of the European F3 Open Copa Class championship lead.
Cheered on by over 120 supporters at a circuit that lies just 30 miles south of his home in Market Harborough, the 17-year-old was able halve the points’ deficit with a pair of strong drives aboard his freshly green-liveried Team West-Tec Dallara F308 following the completion of a new sponsorship deal with Geodis Wilson.
Starting from third in Saturday’s race, Twynham was made to work hard for his first second place of the weekend around the full British Grand Prix layout. A typically brisk getaway initially helped him move up a position before surrendering the place at Stowe after running wide and losing momentum through the fast right-left-right Maggots/Beckets chicane.
When it became clear that the driver ahead would not voluntarily concede the place despite making his move under yellow flags, Twynham went on the attack by sliding down the inside at Brooklands on lap four and pulling clear. With the championship leader delayed behind and first place by now comfortably ahead, Cameron was content to settle for yet another podium and strong points.
A tough second qualifying session saw Twynham line up fourth for the weekend’s second race on Sunday. Once again he was able to immediately pick up a place at the start before also taking second, albeit in unorthodox fashion across the grass at Farm Curve, just two corners later.
His charge continued further round the lap when he looked for a way past the leader into Vale, but lost momentum and dropped back a little. And when he became stuck behind one of the newer and faster 2012-spec cars, his victory chances were effectively ended. Nevertheless, another second place finish and 11th podium of the season still represented the best combined weekend result of his Copa Class campaign thus far.
“It’s been another ultra-consistent weekend and even though I couldn’t thank everyone who came to support me by taking a win, it’s just as important to look at the bigger picture: halving the championship lead is really important with just three rounds remaining,” said Twynham. “We struggled a little bit for outright speed in practice and qualifying but our race pace was much better and allowed me to pick up a few places. It was a bit frustrating to be held up by the 2012-spec car in race two as I felt we had a good chance of going for the win. By the time I got past the gap was just too big, so instead of pushing and potentially making a mistake I settled for the strong points. If we can produce a similar result at the next round then this year’s championship should go down to the wire.”
Twynham and the European F3 Open now take a two-month break before resuming at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on September 7/8.
Cameron Twynham lines up for his home European F3 Open round at Silverstone this weekend (July 13/14) hopeful of closing the gap further at the top of the Copa Class standings.
Fortunately the 17-year-old can count on the support of over 100 family, friends and sponsors at the British Grand Prix venue that lies only 30 miles from his home in Market Harborough. Their collective support, allied to Twynham’s recent F3 experience of Silverstone, makes this the ideal opportunity to cut the 12-point deficit he currently trails the Copa Class leader by.
Consistency has played an important role in his 2013 campaign thus far, with nine podium finishes – including three at Silverstone in May when making a guest appearance in the British F3 Championship – from a total of 12 races.
And Twynham has no plans to alter that approach this weekend.
“Consistency has been a key part of my success this year and I’m of the view that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” he explained. “Winning races is obviously the goal but sometimes, for various reasons, you have to accept that doing so isn’t possible. I’ve learnt that lesson and taken it onboard this year, which is why we’re right in the title fight with four rounds remaining. When you consider there are 20 points available per weekend the championship is still wide open.”
Despite his home’s proximity to the circuit, Twynham had never raced at Silverstone until earlier this year in British F3. And though the tyre suppliers are different, he’ll have the same Team West-Tec-run Dallara F308 at his disposal this weekend as the one he scored a hat-trick of rostrums with two months ago.
“Silverstone’s full GP circuit is pretty demanding, but I felt really happy with the car when we raced there even though I was learning the circuit lap-by-lap. We might have to make some adjustments for the difference between British F3’s tyre supplier and the Dunlops we race with in F3 Open, but I can’t see it being too much of an issue. The bottom line is that we already have a good set-up that will allow us to hit the ground running.”
Almost a month will have passed between F3 Open rounds when Twynham takes to the track on Friday, but that’s not to say that the young Brit hasn’t been working hard in the meantime.
“The training never stops,” he confirms. “Whether that’s physical work in the gym or on the simulator at iZone Performance, I’m always looking to stay match fit. Last week for instance I was at the British Grand Prix, not to enjoy the Formula 1 but instead study the younger drivers in GP3. Nothing beats driving but you can learn a lot from watching how a car behaves and what others are doing through a corner if you change perspectives. The same goes for overtaking opportunities, although hopefully I won’t need to make too many of those this weekend!”
Silverstone weekend schedule
Friday 12 July:
Free Practice 1: 09.00 – 09.30
Free Practice 2: 11.45 – 12.15
Free Practice 3: 16.15 – 16.45
Saturday 13 July:
Qualifying 1: 11.00 – 11.30
Race 1: 15.00 (15 laps)
Sunday 14 July:
Qualifying 2: 09.00 – 09.30
Race 2: 13.15 (15 laps)
For regular updates don’t forget to follow Cameron on Twitter and Facebook: @CameronTwynham / www.facebook.com/CameronTwynhamRacing
British racing driver Cameron Twynham closed the gap at the top of the European F3 Open Copa Class standings last weekend thanks to second and fourth place finishes at round four in Jerez.
The 17-year-old from Market Harborough, making his first appearance at the Spanish venue, was frustrated to see Friday’s 70-minute test session cancelled but reacted in style to narrowly miss out on pole position for the event’s first race on Saturday.
Twynham briefly slipped down to third on the run to the first corner but immediately atoned for his start by diving down the inside of the polesitter.
From there the front two pulled away together, Twynham tracking the leader until his tyres began to fade. With no pressure from behind the Team West-Tec driver was content to cruise to the finish, picking up useful points and extending his run of consecutive podiums to six.
Sunday’s qualifying session played out in much the same manner as the previous day with Cameron lining up second. This time Twynham made a much better getaway and was hounding the leader through the opening few corners. But as he looked to pass at turn five, he was powerless to prevent his Dallara from oversteering wide and lost two positions on the run down the following straight as a result.
From there he was unable to move further forward, the set-up changes made after morning qualifying triggering enough understeer to make him think twice about attempting a passing move on those ahead.
His maturity would be rewarded however with a solid haul of 12 points from the weekend – more than any of his Copa Class rivals – helping to cement his second place in the standings.
“All in all I’m pretty pleased with how the weekend panned out,” said Twynham. “Not testing on Friday undoubtedly hurt my preparation as I was unable to concentrate on set-up during the practice sessions, but the whole team responded well and I was delighted to qualify second on both occasions. I carried that pace into Saturday’s race but couldn’t challenge for the lead after my tyres went away. I felt second was still a good result though.
“Then on Sunday we made some changes after qualifying that ultimately didn’t work out. I had the pace to win but was a bit concerned about the level of understeer. You need to be fully confident that you’re not going to wash out into the other guy when attempting a pass down the inside, and I just didn’t have that. But I am still delighted to have come away with a consistent weekend and points from both races. The podium streak might be over for now but I’m still feeling confident heading into the next race.”
European F3 Open now takes a month-long break before returning for Twynham’s home round at Silverstone on July 13/14.
For regular updates don’t forget to follow Cameron on Twitter and Facebook: @CameronTwynham / www.facebook.com/CameronTwynhamRacing
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