Team USA Scholarship Drivers Well-Placed in Qualifying for Tomorrow's FPA Finale
Brands Hatch, England (November 11, 2006) ---- Dane Cameron and Robert Podlesni continued to impress today in qualifying for the final three races for the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy which will take place tomorrow on the short but challenging Brands Hatch "Indy" circuit in southeast England.
Cameron, 18, who lies just two points out of the series lead following the opening three races one week ago at Snetterton, will start fourth for the first race on Sunday and on the outside of the front row for Race Two.
Teammate Podlesni, 19, who lies fourth in the points table, showed his spurs by snaring third on the grid for Race One, although in the second session he wound up a disappointing sixth after being unable to find a clear lap.
The pole for both races was taken by 17-year-old Englishman Aaron Steele, who has a whole season of racing in Formula Palmer Audi under his belt. Current points leader Luciano Bacheta, 16, will start second and fourth for the first two races on Sunday. Grid positions for the series finale will be set according to fastest lap times from Race Two.
The two Americans were able to benefit from the time they spent driving the Spirit Formula Ford car yesterday, and although the FPA car was significantly more powerful and boasted much more downforce, the previous experience undoubtedly stood them in good stead.
"The Brands Hatch circuit is even more enjoyable in the Formula Palmer Audi car than it was yesterday in the Formula Ford," said Cameron, from Sonoma, Calif. "It is very quick and it flows very well, so is quite a lot of fun on a flying lap.
"Most of today was spent watching the skies as it started off wet for the first practice so I was very happy with the extra time that we got on the track yesterday. In the first practice I was ninth quickest, getting to grips with the car on the wet track. For my liking, the car was much too stiff for the rain so I struggled a little bit for grip, but I now know what I want to change on the car if it goes wet again.
"The first qualifying session was my first time on the track in the dry and it went reasonably well," continued Cameron. "I know that the car was fast enough to run the pole time, but it is extremely tough to get a clear lap with 22 cars on a track where the laps are only 44 seconds, so I ended up fourth on the grid for Race One. That is the hardest part of qualifying at this track, trying to find a gap."
Cameron worked the traffic rather better in the second session and was able to post the second fastest time: "I know that there is still more time left but it is very difficult with traffic," he said. "I wish that I could have gotten a pole for one of the races but I have some good starting spots to challenge for wins tomorrow."
Podlesni, from Thousand Oaks, Calif., elected not to run the entire first session, which was held in drying conditions, in order to preserve his one set of wet tires in case of rain tomorrow. He then set the third-fastest time in first qualifying after holding the pole for much of the session.
"The first qualifying went very well," he related. "The times are so close here that finding that clear lap, or series of laps, is very difficult. The second qualifying did not go quite as well. I pulled in the pits twice, and slowed on the track three times in order to try to gain space to get one or two clear laps. It's tough. Everyone has to deal with the same thing, but this time I did not manage it as well as the first session. I ended up sixth, so I need a good start in Race One to get out of traffic. The track is very short and all the leaders are very close. The race is poised to be a close battle, and I'm looking forward to a lot of clean hard racing."
Team USA Scholarship supporters include Mockett.com, a Torrance, Calif.-based producer and supplier of "Fine Architectural Hardware For Your Fine Furniture," American Honda, Snap-on Tools, "Stars of Karting," Highcroft Racing, Sparco USA, RACER magazine, FormulaCar Magazine, Speedstar Management and an array of past Scholarship winners including Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice, A.J. Allmendinger and J.R. Hildebrand.