Incident-Packed Donington Debut For Hylkema
Bart Hylkema encountered a character building race debut at Donington Park Grand Circuit over the weekend, 24th/25th September, with a rain-affected event producing a best finish of 14th position for the Dutchman during round 25 of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series.
Arriving in the East Midlands on Thursday, 22nd September, with no prior experience of the track, the T-Sport driver gradually improved his pace throughout the race weekend – the penultimate event on the 2011 calendar.
Despite some unfortunate contact at the beginning of the second outing, round 26, which resulted in retirement to the pits, another finish in the third and final race meant Bart departed Donington in a positive frame of mind ahead of the championship finale in two weeks’ time.
Qualifying on Saturday, 24th September, didn’t go as smoothly as Bart wanted and especially towards the end of the session when a number of yellow flags prevented improvements. His best lap of 1m24.427 seconds (106.06mph) placed him on the ninth row.
For the first race of the weekend, round 25, the 21-year-old had a good start which enabled him to get away cleanly and he climbed into 17th on the opening lap.
Contact on lap two between team-mates Felipe Nasr and Kevin Magnussen resulted in pit-stops for both, promoting Bart into the top 15, and after gaining another place on lap four he ran comfortably in 14th position all the way to the flag on lap 21. Picking up his pace as the race progressed, Bart’s best time of 1m24.277 seconds was just 0.6 seconds shy of winner Rupert Svendsen-Cook’s quickest.
“I think I should’ve taken more risk during the early laps”, said Bart. “It was quite a good race for us but if I had pushed a bit harder a bit earlier we could definitely have been close to the top 10.”
For the opening race on Sunday, 25th September, Bart started on the seventh row of the grid by virtue of his finishing position from the day before but a tremendous start came to nothing shortly after when he sustained damaged suspension in a tangle on the run to the first corner.
Getting away from the line very impressively, Bart immediately gained a couple of positions but on the run to Redgate he was forced out onto the grass. As he recovered to the track, the left-front of his Volkswagen powered Dallara was collected which damaged the front wishbone. Although able to make it back to the pits, the suspension couldn’t be repaired.
Determined to post a good race finish in the final outing of the weekend, round 27, Bart was due to start in 17th position but as light rain worsened prior to the beginning of the action he – and several others – opted to pit at the end of the formation lap to fit wet-weather tyres.
As racing got underway, Bart had to wait patiently in the pits as his slick tyres were replaced for treaded rubber but although joining in a long way down the order he raced through to an eventual finish of 17th position.
Continuing to find time throughout the race, this was confirmed by the fact he posted his quickest lap of all on the final tour – a best of 1m39.683 seconds just 0.4 seconds shy of the fastest managed by race winner Kevin Magnussen.
“It’s not been the weekend we wanted but we definitely had the pace and made some progress and I think we could have had a very strong run in the first of Sunday’s races, if we hadn’t had the suspension damage”, said Bart.
“In the final race we wanted to go on wets for the start but in the end we didn’t. Making the pit-stop after the green flag lap cost us a lot of time and places but I had a good race, I enjoyed a good fight with (Will) Buller for a few laps towards the end and our pace wasn’t bad at all. Now I’m looking forward to Silverstone in two weeks, it’s a track I know and hopefully we can finish the season on a high.”
Bart’s debut season in British Formula 3 will reach its conclusion just a fortnight from now, over the weekend 8th/9th October, at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire.