Daly very satisfied with GP3 testing
When the checkered flag fell after six days of winter testing for GP3 cars in Jerez, Spain today, it also ended what has been the most competitive environment Conor Daly has ever experienced in his racing career. With what can only be termed as the most competitive gathering of the world's young drivers, who regularly squeeze twenty drivers into one second, the learning curve for Daly, although fast and furious, showed clear moments that proved he is more than ready to tackle the next step of his career.
"The GP3 car is very different to anything I have ever driven before", said Daly. "With a turbo engine and full ground effect tunnels the handling characteristics are very different. But most of all, going ultra fast in GP3 is about timing. Timing the new tire runs, timing the right gaps to get clear laps and timing of a "qualifying" run to catch the right track temperature.
Daly tested with three different teams, Manor Motorsport, Status Grand Prix and Carlin Motorsport. He started with Manor in Estoril and on the first afternoon turned many heads by topping the time charts for most of the afternoon session until the new tire runs came at the end of the day. "What Conor did on the first day in our car really surprised us and many other people in the pit lane" said Marc Hynes, Manor Motorsport manager.
That first afternoon session prompted Carlin to move its driver roster for the final day at Jerez to make room for Conor to test with their team. "We were made aware of Conor earlier this year and after the first day in Estoril, our engineer suggested that we should do all we can to have a look at him", said Steve Holman, Team Manager, Carlin Motorsport.
Conor was teamed at Carlin on day three at Jerez, with arguably the hottest teen prospect in Europe, Portuguese driver, Antonio, Felix De Costa, who topped the time charts on day one in Estoril. In Daly's first new tire run of the afternoon, he put Carlin P5 on the time charts, the highest a Carlin car had been at any time during the six days of testing. After further tuning of the car, his new tire run at the end of the day was spoiled with an immediate red flag that closed the session.
Daly also spent two days in Spain with Status Grand Prix, who finished second in the 2010 championship. Here he was teamed with British Formula Three race winner, Oli Webb, on day two at Jerez. He could never really come to grips with the set up of the car and at the end of day two, he was again the fastest of the Status cars, but outside the top twenty. "I have never been part of such a pressure packed environment as these European test days, said Daly. "I just didn't understand what it meant to have thirty cars on the track at the same time all running within a sniff of one another. In addition to having to drive fast, there is an incredible discipline needed - what a great experience".
The tests were primarily backed by Doug Mockett & Company, with additional support from Callcap, Merchant Services LTD, The College Network, Createc and Alpinestars.
Conor's next test will be in a Firestone Indy Lights car in Sebring, Florida, October, 27th and 28th.
In 2010, Conor won the Formula Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear in record setting style with seven wins, nine pole positions and twelve podium finishes. In 2009, Conor was one of six race winners in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and finished third in the championship. In 2008, Conor won the Walter Hayes Formula Ford Trophy in England as a member of the Team USA Scholarship, the Ontario Formula Ford Rookie of the Year title, and the Mazda Skip Barber National Championship.