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Italian F3 Euro Series

Nicholas Latifi  target stop 3 by Monza race

The Italian Formula 3 European Series gets ready to get into the second part of the Championship, so it’s time for Nicholas Latifi to take stock of the racing season.

After the first four apprenticeship races, the 17 year-old Italo-Canadian driver is now ready to reap the fruit of his hard labour and aim at the podium he was about to get in Budapest.

Last week the JD Motorsport driver was again behind the wheel of his Mygale 18 at the Red Bull Ring, to take part in the collective test arranged by Championship planners to prepare next challenge which will just take place at the Austrian circuit. During the two test days Nicholas has confirmed the improvements gained in the past races, climbing the standing to the second place.

We arrived at the turning point. What is your judgment after Valencia, Budapest, Mugello and Misano?
The first 4 races of the season have been a significant learning experience for me. Coming direct out of karting into F3 has been an exciting challenge for me. I must admit, I am not pleased with my finishing positions as I am extremely competitive and want to Win! Nor do I feel satisfied unless I am the fastest driver on the track! However I understand the level of experience of the other drivers I am competing against and need to stay focused on learning the tracks, familiarize myself with the car and how to work with my engineer to improve the cars performance. I am confident the results will come as my times get closer and closer to the front runners. The last test at RedBull Ring I was second to my teammate Ricardo. I am looking forward to the race and to set my sites on a top 3 finish.

I am focused on continuing to improve and develop as a driver for the remainder of the season and to strive for better results, lap times and racing for the last 4 events of the season.

After every weekend you could improve your times. What is your target by the end of the championship?
I have set a goal to be able to run with the top drivers by the end of the season and finish in the top 3. I am aware this is an aggressive goal, but as discussed, I am never really happy or satisfied with my performance unless I have a chance at winning. In karting, in only 3 seasons came 5 corners from a possible victory in the world championships combined with numerous wins and championship titles so its hard to start over again and have to climb the ladder. I am focused and committed to do what I need to do to arrive at the end of the season and have a chance to win races or finish in the top 3

In this first part of the season you’ve got to drive the Dallara is that the Mygale. What differences have you found?

Switching from the dallara to the mygale was a positive move, however it was difficult as I had all my pre-season testing and km in the dallara and then to switch only after the 2nd race was difficult. I had to re-adjust my driving, understanding of the car and the general feel of the car is different. I am pleased with the mygale and feel it Is a great car. The Dallara was also a great car to drive, I just think the mygale has suited me more.

It ‘s been difficult to adapt to the style of driving a Formula 3 car, coming from karting?
The transition from karts to cars has not been a difficult transition for me in terms of driving, however as I mentioned not being at the top and winning is the mental challenge I think every athlete and driver faces when they move up. There are very significant difference between driving cars and karts, the most important one is cars are much less forgiving and when you make a mistake it costs you much more time or an off. Karts are very simple to recover from mistakes. I will say that karting is the best form of racing, I am still trying to get use to the fact that passing in f3 is so difficult because of the downforce, in my karting races there are sometimes 3 to 4 passes for the lead every lap!! I miss this as I love to aggressively race, head to head, there is nothing more exciting and I really miss this.

Live and study in Canada, but run in Europe. An extra challenge for you, given the time difference. How have you organized?

The traveling is for sure not an easy thing to get use to. Time change, planes, airports, long drives all has an impact but I understand this is all part of it. My family and I are always looking at options to possibly setup a base in Europe to minimize my travel. We will see for next season how we will address this issue. It has gotten a bit better, the first race in valencia I was really hit hard by the time change and I know this is not the best situation for a driver. I work hard mentally and physically to improve every aspect of my physical performance to help me cope with this challenge.

In preparation for the appointment in Austria, you’re back on track for the joint test at the Red Bull Ring, confirming the obvious progress of the last races. What job you did with your team and your engineer?

The Redbull 2 day test was similar to the imola test, we found a good setup, the car had a good balance and I was top 4 the first day and was able to end the last day 2nd fastest to my teammate Ricardo. Like every track I go to they are “All” new to me so I need to first learn the track then work with my engineer to set the car up. I have set a goal to be top three at the event. We have a good car and I am more experienced with the tire and maximizing my performance in qualifying when the tire is at its peak performance. This has taken some time to learn and develop to build a confidence in pushing the car in the early laps. I am much more acclimated and comfortable now. We will see, but I am really confident in my chances at Rebdbull ring. Hoping it will be a good race with lost of competition and hopefully some passing and action!

F3 Euro Series

FIA European F3 Championship: Prema looking to dominate at Spa

Track length: 6.968 kilometres
Lap record F3ES: 2:13.738 minutes / Roberto Merhi 2011
Distance: R1: 13 laps / R2: 8 laps / R3: 17 laps
Winners 2011: Roberto Merhi, Kevin Magnussen, Roberto Merhi

The Formula 3 Euro Series currently is making its summer break but the single-seaters of the series are racing, nevertheless. Following the Masters of Formula 3, held in early July at Zandvoort, the cars will be back racing this weekend in the next FIA European Formula 3 Championship event. And nearly the entire Formula 3 Euro Series field will contest the three races held at the 6.986-kilometre Belgian GP circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. Italian Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam) travels to the Ardennes Rollercoaster as championship leader, with his team-mate, Masters and Macau winner Daniel Juncadella, currently holding second position in the championship.

Last year, Euro Series driver Roberto Merhi dominated the Spa-Francorchamps race weekend in impressive style. The Spaniard won both long races, thus also prevailing against the British F3 Championship drivers. But Merhi – who won the Euro Series title a short time later – wasn’t the only one who secured two podiums at Spa. William Buller (Carlin) also made it to the top three in two races. In the European Formula 3 Championship, the Briton currently is holding fourth position, behind Marciello, Juncadella and his team-mate Carlos Sainz. The wins in all the 10 European Championship rounds contested to date were secured by the two Prema Powerteam drivers Marciello and Juncadella.

Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam): „Many of the races in the first part of the season were held at circuits that represented virgin soil, for me. Spa-Francorchamps, however, is a circuit I already know. Therefore, I’m looking forward to racing there. Furthermore, I have fond memories of Spa as I have won Italian Formula 3 Championship rounds, there. And it goes without saying that I would love to repeat this success, on the coming weekend.”

Blancpain GT Endurance

The waiting is over. This week-end spotlights will be turned on the most important meeting of the Blancpain GT Endurance season: the 24h of Spa. It’s a hard but charming circuit, nestled in the forest of Ardennes .

For Davide Rigon this will be a return on the ups and downs of the Spa circuit behind the wheel of a Ferrari, just after the 2008 victorious experience in the FIA GT World Championship. The race is worth a whole season, not only for the charme and glory that go with it but also for the standing: scores will be awarded during race three highlights. So being constant and handling a good management of the Ferrari 458 are race most important issues. After getting on the podium at Paul Ricard, the Kessel team driver, together with his team mates Zampieri and Gattuso, is dead set on getting another important result.

“ The 24h of Spa represents my most important race of the season. I trained a lot for this race I’ve already won in 2008 behind the wheel of a Ferrari GT2 of BMS team. I remember each lap was like a qualifying lap. We have to maintain top speed and remain focused throughout the race, ‘cause it’s so stressful. As usual rain will play a dominant role” says Davide Rigon.

“ This year we’re in good shape, even if we’ve been quite unlucky and we’ve got less than deserved. This kind of event can deeply influence the whole race season. It’s three races in one. Scores will be awarded after the 6th, the 12th and the 24th hour. This is the reason why we have to be constant and handle the car with kid gloves, even if till now the Ferrari has been a very reliable car. About 85 cars will take part in the race and also Audi and Porsche official drivers are expected to run the competition. Track will be so crowded, so it will be so hard to find free stretches.”, says again Rigon.

“ I’m confident that we can get a good result. During a 24h race difficulties are so many, but the crew is one of the most powerful and the team has enough experience to do a good job. I wish good luck to everybody!”, comments the manager form Faenza Giovanni Minardi.

Qualifying will start on Thursday, while the green light will turn on only on Saturday afternoon at 4pm

Porsche GT3 Cup

Lechner sees bright future for Porsche GT3 Cup series after new three-year deal

Dubai. Walter Lechner, the driving force behind the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, is confident that the 12-round championship will go from strength to strength after signing a new three-year agreement to run the region’s headline race series.

The Austrian former racing star and head of Lechner Racing, who manages the one-make series on behalf of Porsche Middle East and Africa, said today: “I see a very bright future.”

“We’ve just signed a new agreement with Porsche Middle East and Africa to run the championship for another three years and I believe it will get stronger in the years ahead.

“We have a very good formula which appeals to drivers, particularly the arrive and drive nature of the series which allows competitors to compete at a very high, professional level, without taking up an enormous amount of their time.

“That’s very important as most of our drivers have jobs or run companies, and have a limited amount of time to devote to their passion for motor sport.”

Lechner added: “The GT3 Cup Challenge will remain attractive because it brings the best out of the drivers. As all the cars are identical, equally well-prepared GT3 Cup cars, the emphasis is on driver skill, with no-one having the advantage of a faster, superior vehicle”.

With the fourth season scheduled to start in November in Bahrain, Lechner is looking to attract more of the best young Arab drivers who will have opportunities to try out a GT3 Cup car at the home of the Middle East’s first F1 Grand Prix.

He says: “Just before the start of the new season we’ll be holding a number of track days at Bahrain International Circuit. We’re looking forward to welcoming some new faces who will have the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a GT3 Cup car for the first time, and we hope some will enter the championship.

“We’ve set a very high professional standard in the way the series is run. This is something that attracts drivers who want to compete at the highest level in the region, and gain the experience they need to go further in international GT and sports car racing.

“The series has also been promoted very professionally and the exposure it enjoys makes it stand out above other regional championships and attract the attention of drivers.

“We are very open to meet people interested in joining the championship and help them in any way we can. They can test the GT3 Cup car, see what a fantastic racing machine it is, and meet the current drivers in the championship as well as our mechanics and technicians.”

Lechner was lured to motor racing in the 1970s by the exploits of Jochen Rindt, the German driver who represented Austria throughout his career. Rindt is the only man to posthumously win the Formula One World Championship after being tragically killed in practice for the Italian Grand Prix in 1970.

As a racing driver Lechner won the European Formula Ford championship in 1979 and six

Interserie Sportscar European titles, and says racing the famous Porsche 956 and 962

Group C sportscars was the highlight of his career which ended in 1996.

By then he had already set up the Lechner Racing School, as well as the Lechner Racing team which has contested the Porsche Supercup Series since 2003, collecting countless race victories and four team titles