Bearman joins VAR for 2021 FIA F4

Up-and-coming racer Ollie Bearman has taken a big step in his motorsport career by signing for leading FIA F4 team, Van Amersfoort Racing (VAR).

Chelmsford-based Bearman caught Van Amersfoort Racing’s eye during the course of a successful rookie season last year, with wins in both the German and Italian FIA F4 Championships. With VAR, Bearman should be granted many more opportunities to add to his victory tally in 2021 – not to mention challenge for title glory.

His results last year were achieved despite having the shortest preparation time for the campaign – only racing due to a pandemic-enforced delay in the motorsport calendar that allowed him to turn 15 just in time to compete in FIA F4.

His move to single-seaters was made with a mere handful of tests under his belt, yet he still out-raced and out-qualified many more experienced drivers, scoring several podiums in addition to his two wins.

VAR is a multiple title-winning outfit and following such an impressive first season in cars, the team’s CEO Rob Niessink said he was extremely happy to have Bearman on-board.

“While we were on our way to winning the championship with our Red Bull Junior drivers last year, Ollie was one of the guys always giving us a hard time, and when we subsequently tested with him in December, we immediately ‘clicked’, giving both sides confidence that our co-operation would be successful,” Niessink said. “With Ollie, alongside the other drivers that we will announce soon, we know we again have a strong line-up to fight for the title. Let’s go for it!”

Bearman’s success last year came off the back of clinching both the Junior European and Junior World karting crowns in the X30 class in 2019. The King Edward VI Grammar School student also had a triumph in the X30 Winter Cup in Valencia to his name, before taking the step up to single-seaters.

On this latest move, Bearman said: “I’m really pleased to be joining VAR for the 2021 season in F4. We had a very positive test at the end of last year and I am confident that we have the ability to be really strong together. There are a lot of good teams and drivers in F4, but our goal is to finish 2021 with a championship title. I am looking forward to getting on-track and preparing with the team for a big season ahead.”



Gustavo Menezes put on a spectacular show for the appreciative home crowd in last weekend’s 1,000 Miles of Sebring – round six of the fiercely-disputed 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) – but mechanical woes ultimately denied the talented young American a popular podium result.

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Plano, Texas (October 29, 2018) – AIM VASSER SULLIVAN (AVS), the newly formed motorsports entity that includes AIM Autosport, a championship-winning organization and IndyCar winning team owners Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan is thrilled to announce Jack Hawksworth as the team’s first driver. Hawksworth will be racing full-time in 2019 in one of the two Lexus RC F GT3 race cars that AVS will campaign in the GT Daytona (GTD) class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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Gustavo Menezes has promised to ‘come back stronger in the next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, after his bid for a fourth consecutive top three finish in sportscar racing’s premier global series came unstuck in challenging conditions at Fuji Speedway last weekend (12-14 October).

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Jaden Conwright is remaining level-headed as he prepares to make his debut in the inaugural F3 Asian Championship certified by FIA at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia this weekend (13-15 July), after lapping an encouraging second-quickest in the official pre-season test.

The first driver to commit to the all-new series back in May, the American teenager will compete for Absolute Racing behind the wheel of a high-performance, 270bhp single-seater, with a grid of 17 drivers representing ten different teams confirmed for the fast-approaching curtain-raiser. Conwright – a former World Speed Motorsports Rising Star Award recipient, rookie class podium-finisher in the fiercely-disputed Italian F4 Championship and Carlin Academy member – tested for Absolute Racing in Shanghai last winter, impressing the multiple race-winning outfit with both his strong work ethic and pace.

The 19-year-old carried that eye-catching form over to this week’s group test at Sepang, lapping inside the top four more often than not and placing an excellent second in the final session – arguably the most representative given that all competitors were on new tyres at the same time. The only driver to go quicker was Jake Hughes – a man with race-winning credentials in both the GP3 Series and FIA Formula 3 European Championship – leaving Conwright feeling quietly confident ahead of the opening round.


It was good to finally be back at a race circuit as a driver, and now I can’t wait to return to the cockpit for the weekend,” the Californian enthused. “I’ve always followed Asian motorsport closely, and I’m really happy about what the FIA has managed to pull together in just a few months. The car looks amazing and the championship itself is going to be very competitive. The overall level of the teams is very high and most of the drivers have a lot of experience, with some of them arriving from really prestigious series.”

That is a great source of motivation for me and for Absolute Racing. We share a common goal – since my first test with them, I had no doubt this was the best team for me at this stage in my career. They are ultra-professional and extremely structured and efficient, and we felt a great chemistry and synergy straightaway.

It’s still too early to fully assess where we are at the moment, but the team have been working like crazy to put the cars together so I’m pleased we didn’t encounter any issues during the test and now the guys can rest a little before the weekend. I literally cannot thank them all enough for the support they have given us. We spent the two days learning the car and seeing how it behaves in different weather conditions. There were some ups-and-downs, but at the end we managed to produce some good performances, which is obviously positive. It was cool to see my name in second position between drivers like Jake Hughes and Raoul Hyman, but this is only testing and we need to keep our feet on the ground.

I will enter the first race weekend aiming for a strong result, but not expecting it. The championship will be very strong and very close, so remaining focussed and continually looking for ways to improve will be the best approach. There are a lot of uncertainties with a brand new series and a new car, but the objective has to be to hit the ground running from day one.”


The 2018 F3 Asian Championship will take in 15 races spread across five rounds – to be held at Sepang as well as China’s Ningbo International Speedway and Shanghai International Circuit between now and the end of November.

The region’s first F3 series to be officially sanctioned by world motorsport’s governing body will form part of the FIA’s new open-wheel ladder of progression, with the top eight drivers in the final standings all earning points towards qualification for a Formula 1 superlicence. In evidence of its stature, competitors will accrue the same number of superlicence points as their counterparts in the likes of the DTM, Super GT and World Touring Car Cup.

Having nurtured Conwright through the formative stages of his career in America and Europe, Williams-Harfield Sports Group Director Chris Harfield is convinced that his highly-rated young protégé has what it takes to make a real name for himself in the burgeoning new series.

We were already considering a programme in Asia for Jaden in 2018, and when we heard about the inaugural F3 Asian Championship, we had no doubts this was the path to take,” he explained. “The new engine and chassis package is a big step forward for the series, and championship organiser Top Speed has demonstrated a solid understanding of the motorsport industry.

The FIA has pushed a lot with this project and we believe we will see more and more drivers and teams racing in this part of the world. The Asian market is currently booming and we haven’t yet seen its full potential.

Since we started working with Jaden, he has grown and developed both on and off the track and we cannot wait for this exciting new adventure to begin. During the last two years, Jaden focussed on the consistency of his performances, while always aiming higher. Collaborating with top-flight teams and organisations has given him the opportunity to compare himself against some of the best junior drivers in the world and he is ready for this next chapter.”

A new championship always brings with it new challenges, but we are confident that both Jaden and Absolute Racing have the hunger and determination to make this season a success.”



Gustavo Menezes has described his third-place finish in last weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours as ‘like a victory’, after the talented young American led the Rebellion Racing charge in a captivating race full of unexpected twists-and-turns.

Although the 86th edition of France’s legendary round-the-clock classic marked only Menezes’ third start at La Sarthe, the highly-rated Santa Monica, California native already boasted an impressive record in the event, having sensationally triumphed on his debut there in the LMP2 category in 2016. Now competing in the headlining LMP1 class, Menezes and team-mates Thomas Laurent and Mathias Beche initially qualified the No.3 Rebellion-Gibson R-13 prototype third in the fiercely-contested, 60-strong field – best of the non-hybrid entrants – but they were relegated to fifth due to a pit-lane infringement.

Immediately rising to fourth when the race got underway, Laurent engaged in an entertaining early battle with SMP Racing’s Stéphane Sarrazin, exchanging places on several occasions and finding a way past for good while navigating a backmarker at the Tertre Rouge Esses an hour-and-a-half in. Swiftly stretching his legs, the Frenchman pulled out almost half-a-minute over his countryman before relinquishing the reins to Beche. When the Swiss driver returned to the pits for a routine tyre and fuel stop an hour later, however, an ill-timed safety car intervention to deal with debris meant he was held at pit-lane exit, costing the No.3 crew two minutes and dropping them to fifth.

Menezes first took to the cockpit as the sun began to set, and the 23-year-old was regularly the fastest non-hybrid driver on the track as he chased down the SMP entry ahead. That relentless pressure ultimately told as the Russian car went off shortly before 11pm local time, reinstating the Rebellion in third. The 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 class title-winner and ‘Revelation of the Year’ returned to the fray during the night, but just past half-distance, a small mistake damaged the rear floor of the R-13 and obliged an unscheduled pit visit for urgent repairs. Eight-and-a-half minutes later, Menezes rejoined the race, albeit down in fourth again, behind the sister car.

What ensued was a see-saw internecine scrap for supremacy between the two Rebellions for the honour of finishing as best non-hybrid after the all-conquering Toyotas, with an issue for one invariably being offset by a problem for the other, from sensor failure to pit-stop delays and disobedient doors that refused to stay shut. The last four hours saw Menezes complete a marathon six stints behind the wheel of the 655bhp sportscar, overcoming a malfunctioning gearbox to impressively outpace former World Championship and Le Mans-winning team-mate Neel Jani in the No.1 Rebellion and safely bring the No.3 car home as leading privateer. Not only that, but the Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé ended up on average the quickest non-hybrid driver by more than six tenths-of-a-second per lap. He also lapped barely a second-and-a-half adrift of two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso’s best effort in the significantly faster Toyota around the demanding 13.626km circuit – firmly underscoring his burgeoning sportscar racing credentials in what is widely renowned as the toughest race in the world.

We really couldn’t have done very much more than that,” Menezes reflected. “We effectively finished first-in-class. There’s just no way we can compete with Toyota given the way the regulations are, but we fought with everything we had to reach the podium and as a comparatively small independent team up against a major factory effort, third place was honestly like a victory for us – particularly after all the drama and stress we went through along the way.”

When I climbed in for my first stint as evening was falling, we were a minute behind the SMP following our earlier delay during the safety car period – and by the time I returned to the pits again to hand over to Thomas, we were literally running nose-to-tail, so I was really pleased with that.

The next time I took to the track was around 3am, with the No.1 Rebellion right on our case. I made a little error at the first chicane and clipped the kerb, which caused the rear plank to collapse and the loss of all rear downforce. There were sparks dragging on the ground and the back end of the car was just dancing all the way along the Mulsanne Straight at around 200mph, which was pretty terrifying. I had to hang on for dear life and drag it back to the pits, where the team did an amazing job to change the floor in only seven minutes.

That put us two laps behind our team-mates, but we never stopped believing. There was a stage when we seemed to alternate issues with the sister car, or one or other of us would get caught out by the timing of the safety car – the momentum kept swinging this way and that – but we doggedly persevered and it goes to prove you should never give up.

When I began my final stint with just under four hours left on the clock, we were around a minute behind the No.1 Rebellion. On the one hand, I had the team telling me not to take any risks as the main priority was to preserve the three-four finish, but as a driver, I wanted to get on the podium and I felt as a crew, we deserved that so I carried on pushing. Then, two laps later, Neel [Jani] had to pit due to his door coming open, which allowed us back into third and I could ease off a little.

Towards the end, we encountered some upshifting difficulties and I had to stop using second gear, which you need a lot at Le Mans! Despite that, my lap times held up and the R-13 still felt very good. I could literally have driven it all day and I said to my engineer, ‘I’d really like it if I could bring this home – I’m in the zone and I know I can do it’. The team agreed, and it was a real privilege to be allowed to take the chequered flag in such a prestigious race.

Then on the cooling-down lap afterwards, the gearbox broke completely. I don’t think it had more than another lap or two in it – we really did make it home by the skin of our teeth. What a story!


Indeed it was, and whilst Menezes had ascended the podium at Le Mans before – for his LMP2 success two years ago – this was metaphorically-speaking a much bigger stage, and with two rostrum appearances now from three starts in such a famously gruelling race, he is fast developing an enviable reputation. The result also saw him become the first American to stand on the overall podium at La Sarthe since 2001 – quite the achievement.

Sharing that with my two team-mates was beyond doubt one of the most special moments of my career to-date,” acknowledged the erstwhile Jim Russell Driver Scholarship Award winner. “Thomas and Mathias both did an incredible job, and I couldn’t have felt prouder being up there with them looking out at our mechanics who had worked their absolute backsides off all week and the sea of fans down below. It was also the perfect way to kick-start the partnership with my new sponsor, crypto-currency Modex. The whole experience gave me goosebumps – just magical.”



Weiron Tan admits he is excited and nervous in equal measure as he prepares to tackle the ‘biggest challenge’ of his fledgling motorsport career later this month, following a positive and productive test day ahead of the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours.

One of the fastest-rising stars on the international sportscar scene, Tan is competing this year for Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport as part of the first all-Malaysian driver line-up in FIA World Endurance Championship history, alongside team-mates and countrymen Jazemen Jaafar and Nabil Jeffri. Behind the wheel of the team’s 600bhp #Fortunecat37 entry, the trio made an encouraging debut in sportscar racing’s premier global series last month, tallying a solid fourth-place finish in the fiercely-contested LMP2 class at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – the 2018/19 FIA WEC ‘Super Season’ curtain-raiser.

Rapidly getting to grips with their new Gibson-powered ORECA 07 prototype, Tan, Jaafar and Jeffri then headed for France’s revered, 13.626km La Sarthe circuit, which will stage the 86th edition of the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours on 16/17 June. Making the most of the eight hours of official testing available, the crew completed 68 tours to place 11th on the timesheets amongst the 20 high-calibre LMP2 protagonists. After lapping less than a second adrift of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and seven-time grand prix-winner Juan-Pablo Montoya, 23-year-old Malaysian Chinese racer Tan professed himself pleased with initial preparations.


The test went well,” affirmed the former Caterham F1 Academy member. “Having done a lot of prior simulation work, I felt like I got to grips with the track quite quickly – but of course, the simulator can never fully replicate reality. The real circuit is way more fun, way scarier and much more exciting! With some 60 cars in the field, it was very difficult to get a clear lap which meant it was almost impossible to accurately judge where everyone was pace-wise, but our objective was to learn and develop a race car for the 24 Hours and in that respect our programme was very productive. With so much information to take in, the test was a positive learning curve for us and we made good progress.”

I must admit, it was incredible to be driving through the streets of Le Mans at over 330km/h. This track has so much history and it really is a privilege to be here, and I’m feeling excited and quite nervous, if I’m honest. It will be the longest race I’ve ever done. I mean, 24 hours – that’s crazy! I’m just looking forward to experiencing it for the first time and the primary target will be to reach the finish, because anything can happen in 24 hours – so that in itself is the biggest challenge already.”



The 3GT Racing team came into Detroit riding on a wave of momentum after a historic first victory at Mid-Ohio a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, that victory didn’t come from our side of the garage, but nonetheless it was a great confidence boost for the whole team. The only negative of our strong performance at Mid-Ohio was heading into the Detroit weekend we had been handed a substantial weight penalty, courtesy of IMSA’s Balance of Performance. We knew this would make life a little more difficult for us but nonetheless we knew that certain characteristics of the Detroit circuit would suit our Lexus RC F GT3. We hoped we could challenge for the victory.

Friday practice went very well. The engineering team and mechanics had done a fantastic job with the car and David Heinemeier Hansson and I both felt very comfortable straight out of the box. We spent both practice sessions working through various fuel loads and tires, both fresh and old, to try and get a better understanding of the car in different situations and to help prepare David in the best possible way for the qualifying session. An added bonus was that we set the fastest time of anyone in practice and we were consistently able to run a very strong pace.

Qualifying followed and David did a fantastic job to qualify the car P5, in front of all the other real amateur drivers in the field!

Race day came and the talk around the paddock was whether to take four, two or zero tires when pitting. It was a one-stop race and with the minimum drive time for silver drivers set at the 30-minute mark, it was clear that the pit stop would be a short fuel. This therefore meant that the time spent on pit lane would probably be decided by the driver and tire change. In a one-stop race, and with little passing, this pit exchange would be a golden opportunity to get it right or screw it up! Unfortunately, in the race it wasn’t a problem we had to deal with.

After making a solid start, David got caught out by a snap of oversteer in Turn 5 and hit the wall. That was our day done. These things happen on street circuits, but it was a shame as we were probably the only GTD car with the pace to go forward and make some passes. Ah well, would of, should of, could of, this is racing, and we’ll move on. The results are only part of it and as always, I look forward to the next race, this time at Watkins Glen.

It presents another opportunity to do things better, continue to refine my craft and understand how to extract more lap time and speed from the Lexus RC F GT3. This is what gets me out of bed every morning and keeps me motivated. I look forward to pushing forward with the rest of 3GT team from here on out, hopefully the results follow!



Gustavo Menezes proved his pace and potential on a hugely impressive LMP1 class debut in the fiercely-disputed FIA World Endurance Championship last weekend (3-5 May), lapping fastest of the non-hybrid competitors around legendary Belgian circuit Spa-Francorchamps to secure a top three finish with Rebellion Racing.

The 2016 FIA WEC LMP2 class champion and Le Mans 24 Hours winner is a hot property on the sportscar racing scene, and he was snapped up over the winter by Anglo-Swiss outfit Rebellion for its return to LMP1 level – the uppermost echelon in endurance racing’s premier global series. Notwithstanding very limited pre-season track time, Menezes and team-mates Thomas Laurent and Mathias Beche came out-of-the-blocks in fine form to place third in opening free practice at Spa behind the wheel of the No.3 car. The talented young American was then the quickest of the Rebellion sextet in FP2 and outpaced a certain Fernando Alonso in FP3, before teaming up with Laurent to tackle qualifying.

In a session punctuated by a brace of red flag stoppages – one for a hefty accident involving Menezes’ friend Pietro Fittipaldi – the pair lapped fourth-fastest, but were promoted to third on the grid when the No.7 Toyota had its times disallowed for failing administrative checks.

Laurent returned to the cockpit of the Rebellion R13 for the start of what would be an eventful 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps the following day, held in perfect weather and in front of some 63,000 avid fans. After initially holding position, the Frenchman briefly assumed the lead when the majority of the LMP1 protagonists pitted during a lengthy safety car period at the end of the first hour to allow for barrier repairs to be carried out at Eau Rouge.

Highly-rated Santa Monica, California native Menezes was next to take to the track, keeping close company with second-placed stablemate Bruno Senna and more than matching the ex-Formula 1 driver for pace throughout his double stint. Beche then took over inside the Gibson-powered ORECA prototype and despite finding himself obliged to concede to the recovering No.7 Toyota, he reclaimed third with two hours remaining when the sister Rebellion had to make an extended pit visit to fix transponder issues.

Laurent rejoined the fray for the final blast, working hard to shake off the attentions of the chasing SMP Racing entry – whose subsequent crash necessitated another safety car period going into the last hour and eradicated the No.3 crew’s healthy advantage over their team-mates. A close battle ensued to the chequered flag, and although the No.1 Rebellion crossed the finish line ahead, the car’s post-race exclusion for an over-worn skid block promoted Menezes and co. to third overall.

Not only that, but the 23-year-old Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé – a former winner of the coveted Jim Russell Driver Scholarship Award – posted the race’s fastest non-hybrid lap by more than two tenths-of-a-second, leaving him fired-up for the fight looking towards the next outing on the 2018/19 FIA WEC ‘Super Season’ calendar, the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours on 16/17 June.


It was a great weekend all-round,” Menezes enthused. “Spa is a track I know well and love going to – one of the true classics and a hugely rewarding and demanding test of driver and car alike. It was such a rush to get everything ready for the season that we’d had very little prior running, and it’s always difficult to know what to expect with a new car but ORECA do a phenomenal job and nothing major cropped up to cause us any real concern.

The first time I drove the R13 in free practice, we were a little bit off in terms of the balance but the Rebellion guys worked their socks off and with a few tweaks and adjustments and a fresher set of tyres for FP2, the car felt a lot better and my confidence quickly returned.

Qualifying was a difficult session with the two red flags. We knew from practice that we would likely be battling our team-mates to be best-of-the-rest behind the two Toyotas, but after Pietro’s big accident, it wasn’t worth risking everything just to gain one spot on the grid – and ultimately, of course, we ended up third anyway with what happened to the No.7 car.

In the race, Thomas did a great job early on, and I soon established a good feeling with the R13 on full tanks when I got behind the wheel. The pace was there immediately, and to set the fastest non-hybrid lap of anybody on my LMP1 debut and be on average one of the quickest drivers on the track was immensely encouraging. I was very pleased with my performance, and then Mathias continued that good work when he got into the car.

It was a shame for our team-mates to lose third place for something so minor, but I’ll definitely take a top three finish first time out and I think we can be very proud of what we achieved. With two outright Le Mans winners and LMP1 world champions as well as the reigning LMP2 title-holder in the No.1 Rebellion, for Thomas, Mathias and myself to show we can run at the same speed and perform at a very similar level is really important and will be a big help when it comes to developing the car.

Now, it’s full throttle ahead for Le Mans. For us, the entire Spa weekend was essentially preparation for what is beyond doubt the biggest race on the FIA WEC calendar, and you can be assured that we will be leaving no stone unturned and giving it everything we’ve got. We need to keep our heads down and work on closing the gap to the Toyotas so we can push them as hard as possible and give them a genuine fight. That will be the primary focus over the next few weeks.”



Weiron Tan made history at Thailand’s Buriram International Circuit yesterday (13 January), as he teamed up with Jazeman Jaafar and Afiq Ikhwan Yazid to speed to the first-ever all-Malaysian victory in the Asian Le Mans Series on his LMP2 class bow.

After steering his burgeoning career from single-seaters to sportscars and spending last year contesting the China GT Championship and Blancpain GT Series Asia, Tan has returned to the fiercely-disputed Asian Le Mans Series for the final two rounds of its 2017/18 campaign, having previously participated one rung down the ladder at LMP3 level. The highly-rated Malaysian Chinese racer – managed by Williams Harfield Sports Group – was recruited by Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport last month to pilot its #7 Nissan-powered ORECA 05 prototype, in an effort officially backed by Sepang International Circuit (SIC).

Jaafar was firmly in the mix for pole position throughout qualifying, ultimately winding up third, a scant tenth-of-a-second adrift of the top spot at the end of an intense and hard-fought 15-minute session – and comfortably clear of the ‘best-of-the-rest’. The next day’s 6 Hours of Buriram was two hours longer than standard Asian Le Mans Series races, and it witnessed a superb duel between the two Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport entries. Tan and his team-mates initially gave chase to the sister #8 car, with little to choose between them – although drama lay in wait.

When Jaafar exited the pit-lane following his first refuelling stop 45 minutes in, he unfortunately clipped a traffic cone that got caught in the ORECA’s bodywork, sending the engine and brake temperatures soaring and obliging an unscheduled extra pit visit to allow the team to remove it.

The tables turned in the fourth hour, however, when the #8 was issued with a drive-through penalty for a pit entry violation, handing the initiative to the #7 crew. It was an advantage they would not relinquish, going on to stretch their lead to almost a minute-and-a-half at the chequered flag, with Jaafar posting the race’s fastest lap for good measure. As debuts go, it was remarkable – and 23-year-old Tan is already eager to climb back into the cockpit on home turf at Sepang in early February.

What an incredible feeling!” enthused the CEFC Manor TRS Racing test and reserve driver and former Caterham F1 Academy member. “To win on our debut in LMP2 with the first-ever full Malaysian line-up is just surreal, and the perfect way to kick off 2018. Hopefully we did our nation proud.

I want to thank Sepang Circuit and DC Racing for giving me this opportunity, my team-mates Jazeman and Afiq for doing an amazing job and the whole team for their hard work and full commitment all weekend.

Our target for Buriram was to bond and discover how best to work together, and that’s exactly what we did. We learned both from each other and from the sister car, which has very experienced drivers including Le Mans 24 Hours winner Thomas Laurent. Afiq and I got up-to-speed quickly even with limited track time, and I was happy with our performance. That said, there is still plenty of room for improvement – so I’m very much looking forward to the next race on home soil!

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