CHALLENGING HUNGARORING FOR OLLIE MILLROY
Ollie Millroy had a challenging Hungarian outing after twice being hit by a fellow competitor in the ninth and tenth round of the Formula BMW Europe Championship. The Claygate 'rookie' headed out to Budapest full of confidence after solid performances in his last three races but didn't come away with the results he was looking for.
In the relatively cool morning free practice session before the Formula One cars had laid down any rubber, the BMW Junior Development Driver was comfortably in the top five quickest on his first set of new tyres and was confident ahead of the afternoon qualifying session. However during the critical 30 minutes qualifying, later that day, the team was unable to find the optimum set-up on his Fisichella Motorsport International FB02 and he qualified a disappointing 18th.
"The car feels great when it's cool and the track has less grip," said Ollie, "so I was feeling very confident going into the qualifying session. But, when we went out in the afternoon the F1 cars had been out and the track had a lot more grip and me and my team mates struggled. I was still on the pace of them though and my second fastest lap was the quickest of the three, so I was happy to be fastest of the FMSI runners."
Starting 18th on the grid for Saturday's opening race, Ollie's now traditional storming start allowed him to make up two places as the pack entered the first corner. However his chances of continuing his charge along with his hopes of achieving a top ten finish were ended when he was hit by another competitor, who took out four cars, in the process badly damaging his car and signalling the end of his race.
"I made another fantastic start gaining two places off the grid. I was perfectly lined up to take the inside line going into the first corner when a car just came barrelling into the side of me, flying over the right hand side of the car damaging the front and rear suspension."
Ollie managed to limp back to the pits, albeit on three wheels, leaving the FMSI mechanics with a lot of work to do, into the early hours of the morning, prior to his early Sunday morning race two.
The second race had Ollie line up on the seventh row and another good start allowed him to maintain position for the first two laps. A safety car period on lap two allowed the pack to close up but at the restart another competitor spun in front of Ollie.
A superb piece of driving enabled him to swerve to avoid him, but another car travelling close behind, was unable to avoid hitting the back of Ollie's car, breaking his rear wing and making the car difficult to handle.
Despite the damage to his car, Ollie battled on to finish 22nd.
"It wasn't the best of weekends that's for sure but this is my first year and you have to learn to take the rough with the smooth. That's racing and we have to move on and put it behind us. The team are working really hard and the car is great when the track's cooler. Now we have to work on improving the set-up so that we can be as quick when there's rubber down, particularly for our next race, in Valencia, where again it will be hot."
The next rounds of the series, at Valencia in Spain, will take place over the weekend of 23/24 August.