Capo eyeing full European F3 programme

Australian GT and Formula 3 driver Ricky Capo is hoping his one-off Zandvoort F3 Masters drive will lead to a full European programme for the 2016 season.

Capo eyeing full European F3 programme
Ricky Capo
Pietro Fittipaldi, Fortec Motorsports Dallara Mercedes-Benz
Matthew Rao, Fortec Motorsports Dallara Mercedes-Benz
Al Faisal Al Zubair, Fortec Motorsports
Martin Cao, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312 Mercedes-Benz
Pietro Fittipaldi, Fortec Motorsports Dallara F312 - Mercedes-Benz
Fortec Motorsports Logo
Macau atmosphere
Arjun Maini, Three Bond with T-Sport Dallara Tomei
Start action: Felix Rosenqvist, Prema Powerteam Dallara Mercedes-Benz leads
#92 Modena Engineering BMW Z4 GT3: Ricky Capo
#92 BMW Z4 GT3: Ricky Capo
#92 Modena Engineering BMW Z4 GT3: Ricky Capo

Capo has done a single-race deal to join British squad Fortec Motorsport for the Zandvoort race, off the back of an Australian GT Championship programme that also included a single Australian F3 start in Sydney last month.

While the Masters drive is a one-off for now, Capo told Motorsport.com that the plan is for it to be the starting point for a full European F3 campaign in 2017.

“That’s definitely the category my father and I have been looking at,” he said. “We’ve been looking at it for some time now, it’s just been hard getting the budget together.

“Hopefully we can perform well [at Zandvoort]. I know it will be tough, but I’m going to do what I can to get the best out of the car. I’m just going to focus on my own performance, and try and learn as much as I can.”

Toe in the water

Having fallen short of getting together the budget together for a full Euro season this year, Capo says the Masters drive is a way of gauging the overseas scene as he works on his 2017 plans.

But he’s also heading to Zandvoort realistic about his chances, particularly given that he’s spent most of the season in a GT car rather than an open-wheeler.

“We struggled to put together a complete season in Europe for this year, so we picked out the Zandvoort Masters as a good opportunity to not only learn, but see how we stack up against the best up-and-coming drivers in the world,” added Capo.

“It’s an opportunity for me to get my head around how everything operates here in Europe. Obviously it’s a lot more intense than racing in Australia, it will definitely be the most difficult race I’ve ever done, not only because of how tough the field is, but also because European F3 has already raced at Zandvoort this season. So not only do the regular drivers know the cars really well, but they know the track really well too.

“I’ve only done one Formula 3 race in the last 12 months, so it will be quite difficult for me to get back in that rhythm. In saying that, I was happy with testing [at Anglesey this week]; I was only two-tenths off my team-mate [Sam McLeod], so that’s a really good benchmark. That’s a good start.

“The way you drive an F3 car is quite similar to a GT car, although the intensity of driving the F3 car was quite surprising. I’d forgotten how intense it is. Obviously you don’t have traction control or ABS, so it took some adjustment – particularly given how physically demanding it is.

“That’s something I need get used to quite quickly, so I’m training to get my fitness up to that level.”

Macau on the cards

If all goes well in Holland, Capo confirmed to Motorsport.com that competing at this year’s Macau Grand Prix is also a serious option.

“Most of the drivers at the Zandvoort Masters will be racing, or trying to race, at Macau. So it’s something that we’ll look into,” he said.

“We’re just focussing on this race at the moment, and depending on how the performance is, and how I feel, then Macau might definitely be a possibility.”

GT programme still going

Despite the addition of the F3 programme, and a heavy crash at the last Australian GT Championship round in Townsville, Capo hasn’t ruled out having his family-run BMW Z4 GT3 back in action for the final Sprint round of the season in New Zealand.

“We only have one round left, because we were only doing the Sprint Series, so our next round is at Highlands Park in New Zealand in November. It’s definitely a possibility for us. We can’t confirm it yet, but it’s something I’d like to do.”

Either way, Capo reckons his decision to race in Australian GT was a good one as he looks to embark on an overseas adventure.

“It was a good decision to do Australian GT this season. I think I’m a more versatile driver now,” he added. “It means I have the opportunity to look at open-wheeler stuff and GT racing in the future.”

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