D'Agostino adds to podium tally just missing top step in both races
Norfolk, England -- American Joe D'Agostino completed the penultimate rounds of the UK Formula Ford Championship this past weekend at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk with a brace of podium finishes.
With championship rival Charlie Donnelly simply needing a points finish in both races at Snetterton the title is out of reach for D'Agostino. Several non-finishes that were out of the American's control mean the point's gap to Donnelly was insurmountable, leaving D'Agostino and Tappy to battle for the runner-up spot. After a solid test day on Friday that had D'Agostino as one of the quickest in the dry and over 1 second faster than the field in the wet, the 20-year old was looking forward to qualifying.
With two massive straights drafting, especially in qualifying, is essential for quick lap times around the 1.9-mile circuit. During qualifying after several attempts to obtain a draft failed, D'Agostino was left to do the time on his own. The American put his head down and laid down two laps good enough for P2 in both races. "To be honest I am surprised to be on the front row, a draft is crucial here and each time I got a tow I ended up tripping over slower cars along the lap. After several laps I knew the tires were not going to peak much longer so I just drove the car as hard as I could without the aid of the slipstream, I am pleased with the result all things considered."
For race 1 D'Agostino had a strong start immediately pressuring pole-sitter Tappy into the 100 mph Riches corner. The two ran virtually nose-to-tail with D'Agostino looking for any opportunity to slip past, but two different safety car periods hindered any real challenge from the American as he crossed the line in second position to take his 13th podium of the season. Joe commented, "That was an interesting race with the most safety car periods all year! I was quicker in certain areas and able to keep up the pressure but Duncan was good where he needed to be. We had a bit of understeer in some crucial corners so the Team and I will be working to improve the car for the second race tomorrow."
Race 2 got underway in typical British fashion with ominous rain clouds swooping in and after another good start D'Agostino was once again applying the pressure as drops of rain started to fall. Conditions became very tricky with all of the drivers guessing how damp the track had become. After Tappy had a slight wiggle through the very fast Coram curve D'Agostino went for an optimistic opportunity to further pressure Tappy under braking for the tight Russell bend. With the car on the very edge D'Agostino did not expect the sudden loss of grip from the slippery conditions on the exit of the corner, having a painfully slow spin and falling down the order to 15th position. Fuming at himself, the American set about a magnificent fight back determined to make amends. Within 10 laps he had stormed to 5th setting several lap times 0.5 second quicker than the entire field, taking fastest race lap for most of the race. 4 laps till the end D'Agostino caught the 3rd and 4th place cars of championship rival Charlie Donnelly and Steven Roberts and within 2 corners D'Agostino had passed both to take his 14th podium of the year in 3rd place (2nd in points due to guest driver finishing 2nd and not collecting points).
"Well although I enjoyed that drive I wish I didn't have to do it. I saw an opportunity to pressure Tappy but didn't expect it to be that slippery from the rain that had fallen. In a way it was good having to pass all those cars as it made good practice for my race craft, but I would have liked to have given Duncan more of a fight," said D'Agostino. "I'm going to take as many positives as I can from this and refocus for the finale at Silverstone in a few weeks where I hope to end the season on a high note."
The 19th and 20th Rounds of the UK Formula Ford Championship will be held on the 8th-9th of October at the Silverstone International circuit in Northamptonshire.