Barrett and Miller Claim Two Top-10 Finishes Apiece in FPA Autumn Trophy Finale
After a slow start to the day, 2007 Team USA Scholarship winners Patrick Barrett and Joel Miller each claimed a pair of top-10 finishes from today's final three rounds of the ultra-competitive Formula Palmer Audi Trophy at the fast Snetterton circuit in eastern England.
Race One this morning was the least productive for the two Californians. Barrett, who started 10th, made a mistake under braking for the Esses and could salvage only a 17th-place finish. Miller moved from 13th to 11th, passing Richard Plant with a couple of laps remaining and finishing hot on the heels of Jason Moore and Alex Brundle.
The second race saw Barrett fall from ninth on the grid to 11th by the first corner, but he took advantage of a melee at the Esses to complete Lap One in eighth. He then overtook Brundle and highly rated youngster Luciano Bacheta on successive laps, before setting his sights on FPA regular season champion (and former Champ Car Atlantic Series racer) Tim Bridgman. Brundle managed to repass Barrett on the entrance to Riches Corner (Turn One) on Lap 10, only for Barrett to fight back and regain the position a couple of laps later on the Revett Straight. Barrett then closed rapidly on Bridgman, flashing across the finish line only two-tenths shy of a top-five placing.
"Wait until you see the [on-board camera] footage -- holy cow," exclaimed Barrett. "I had a really good race with Brundle, and I thought I might be able to catch Bridgman coming out of the last corner but I didn't have quite enough to pull alongside him."
Miller also drove a strong race, rising from 12th to ninth and posting the fourth fastest lap of the race as he chased down Bacheta in the waning stages.
"I had some good overtaking moves and the car was good," said Miller. "I had two [turbo power] boosts left and I was saving them for the final lap, but I locked up the front brakes [going into Sear Corner -- Turn Two], so that cost me some ground. I guess I was trying just a bit too hard."
Expectations were high prior to the final 18-lap race, although the Americans had their work cut out from 12th (Barrett) and 13th (Miller) on the grid. Once again, both made sluggish starts, before a combination of some gutsy passes and the mistakes of a few other competitors enabled them to finish strongly in seventh (Barrett) and eighth (Miller).
"I gotta get off the line better," lamented Miller. "Every time I lose two or three positions. After that it went well. I made some passes, and Pat and I were catching the guys in front of us at the end."
Indeed, both turned faster laps than eventual FPA Autumn Trophy champion Richard Keen, who finished merely a couple of seconds ahead of them in the final race.
"It's been a great experience, running in England," summarized Barrett. "Very competitive and very challenging. I've definitely learned a lot that will help me in the future."
"Everything over here is elevated to a different level," added Miller. "It's been a huge eye-opener. A lot of guys here have a lot of experience. I was told when the entry list came out, if you can get in to the top 10, you'd be doing something. We've done that, and it's been a huge learning curve, but you always want to do better."
Jack Clarke won today's first race while recent Formula Ford Festival winner Nick Tandy claimed the final two races to win the FPA Shootout and secure an invitation to join five other McLaren/Autosport/BRDC Award finalists.