BRITISH F3 ROOKIE OWEN TAKES BEST OF EIGHTH PLACE DURING EVENTFUL OPENING WEEKEND OF SEASON AT OULTON PARK
American Chase Owen posts best of P8 on British F3 debut
• Inexperienced team-mate Nick Worm takes superb top 10 in Rd2
• Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing pair score in all three races
• Championship newcomers impress in very difficult conditions
First year BRDC British Formula 3 Championship drivers Chase Owen and Nick Worm each secured a consistently strong haul of points for Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing during the season-opening event at Oulton Park on Easter Monday, 17th April – both drivers scoring in all three contests.
American racer Owen posted a best finish of eighth place in a red flag interrupted round two, while younger German team-mate Worm also enjoyed his greatest success of the weekend in the second encounter with a terrific top 10 result.
Despite a gear selection problem in qualifying, which hampered Owen’s true pace, he sensibly settled for a risk-free 14th place in the rain-affected first encounter before building on that with his fantastic top eight in round two. Contact from a rival at the start of race three led to a broken front wing for Owen, so 12th position was the best he could possibly achieve with a lack of downforce.
Worm, meanwhile, surpassed all expectations on his debut and the 16-year-old stunned his team with a sensational top 10 in the second contest. As the only driver to run intermediate tyres, the extra confidence they provided enabled the rookie to deliver a superb performance.
Ahead of race three he mistakenly selected neutral on the grid before the formation lap and couldn’t re-engage first gear quickly enough, so correctly started at the back. Nonetheless, he was able to work his way through into a strong 12th place finish.
“We’re absolutely delighted with the performances Chase and Nick delivered at Oulton, and also the fantastic progress they both made”, said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “In testing, Chase was very strong and then the gear problem developed in qualifying so he had to start well out of position from where his pace would’ve truly put him.
“We instructed him to just bring the car home in race one, with three races in one day we wanted to make sure there was no damage before the second race and then Chase was able to push on and take an excellent top eight. Unfortunately, in race three, his front wing was broken at Old Hall so Chase just did the best he could in the circumstances to bring home some more points.”
Ollerenshaw added: “Nick used his head very well throughout the weekend, he learnt a massive amount and I honestly can’t speak highly enough of how well he did in very demanding conditions. He was outstanding for such an inexperienced rookie, to get a top 10 finish out of the event was exceptional – we couldn’t have asked any more from either of our drivers this weekend.”
Owen started the build-up to the weekend very impressively, lapping fifth fastest overall during day one of testing on Thursday and he was then in the top six overall on Friday. In qualifying, though, gear selection problems resulted in an uncharacteristic 14th on the grid for his British F3 race debut.
Worm, meanwhile, continued to pick up his pace as he acclimatised to the world of F3 single-seaters and he ended his first qualifying session in the championship 17th quickest, just 0.1 seconds shy of the eighth row of the grid for round one.
Race one was initially scheduled to take place on Saturday but, as a result of barrier damage in an earlier support race the encounter was moved over to Sunday, leading to a mouthwatering ‘triple header’ of F3 races on the final day.
Unsurprisingly for a British Bank Holiday, rain arrived at Oulton Park which did affect the season opening contest. Owen held 15th place at the end of lap one and, listening to the team’s instruction, he adopted a risk-free approach of sensibly bringing his car home in 14th position. Worm, meanwhile, ended his maiden race 17th after a trouble-free run in the tough conditions.
While the track was fairly dry for round two, drizzle in the air meant the opening lap would be very interesting – and so it proved. The team opted to split their strategy, Owen running slick tyres but Worm running intermediate rubber – the latter chosen in the interests of helping the German to gain more confidence and get heat into his tyres quicker.
Following a multi-car tangle at Old Hall, there was more drama down the hill at Cascades with several drivers coming to grief. Threading their way through the chaos, the Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing duo were able to gain places hand over fist with Owen slicing his way through into ninth position and Worm moving into the top 10.
Following a red flag stoppage, racing re-started over just four laps with Owen starting ninth and Worm in 10th place. While initially edged back outside the top 10, Owen fought back well to claim eighth place and in a dramatic dash to the chequered flag he was just 0.097 seconds shy of seventh.
Worm, meanwhile, produced his best outing of the weekend with a very strong drive to claim his maiden top 10 result. Down in 13th place on lap two, the German rookie was able to capitalise on issues for a couple of rivals to break into 10th spot on the penultimate lap.
Round three at the end of the day began with Worm a lofty eighth on the grid, by virtue of his best lap time from race two, while Owen was just behind in ninth place. Owen maintained his placing initially but was edged back to 12th by lap three as a legacy of his front wing being broken at Old Hall. Worm, meanwhile, ended the finale in 13th position.
Rounds four, five and six of the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship season will take place at Rockingham in Northamptonshire on 29th/30th April.
2017 BRDC British F3 Driver Standings
9th Chase Owen, 28pts; 12th Nick Worm, 24pts