One of the most famous and demanding motor racing venues in the world, the Pau street circuit in the south of France, awaits Double R Racing next weekend, 12th/13th May, for the third event of the 2012 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series.
Returning to the calendar for the first time since 2006, the Grand Prix de Pau is renowned as one of the crown jewel events in single-seater racing and, as such, will feature a boosted grid with drivers and teams from the FIA European Formula 3 Championship joining their UK series counterparts.
With 25 cars set to line-up on the grid, Double R drivers Fahmi Ilyas, Geoff Uhrhane and Duvashen Padayachee will each have their work cut-out as Pau novices – something especially true for Uhrhane and Padayachee who are both F3 rookies with just six races under their respective belts.
Nothing other than past experience of the street circuit can truly prepare a driver for a challenge as unique as Pau so the scale of the task is a substantial one. From a team perspective though, Double R enjoyed a top six finish in last year’s non-British championship Grand Prix de Pau event.
“We’re looking forward to Pau, it’s a fantastic circuit with lots of heritage – a place I’ve enjoyed going to since I first went there with Narain Karthikeyan [current HRT Formula 1 Team driver] in the late nineties”, said Double R Racing team principal Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt, “We had a strong run there last year so we’re hoping to try and build on that.
“It will be incredibly tough for all three of our guys though, especially Geoff and Duvashen with so little F3 running under their belts. We could have done with Oulton Park, Monza and Pau being the last three meetings of the season rather than the first three! Whatever happens though, it’ll be great experience for all of them.”
Heading into next weekend’s action, International Class runner Ilyas is the best placed of the Woking squad’s drivers in 11th position in the championship with a season’s best result of sixth from the first race of the campaign at a damp Oulton Park in early April. Fellow Dallara-Mercedes driver Uhrhane, who only signed his deal mere days before the season-opener, is 12th in the driver standings.
Dallara Mugen-Honda driver Padayachee, meanwhile, is second in the National Class and in the appallingly wet conditions at Monza last time out, the F3 rookie – who celebrated his 22nd birthday yesterday, Friday, 4th May – earned his maiden class victory during round five.
Rather than the regular triple-header for the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series runners, next weekend’s event will feature two races. Practice takes place on Friday, 11th May, at 10.40 (local time) and 15.30 ahead of qualifying and the first race on Saturday, 12th May, at 09.25 and 14.25 respectively. Grand Prix de Pau itself is scheduled for 14.00 on Sunday, 13th May.