Dane Cameron Snares the Pole for One of Tomorrow's Three Races at Snetterton Attleborough, England (November 4, 2006) ---- Dane Cameron stunned the Formula Palmer Audi series regulars this afternoon by qualifying his red, white and blue Team USA...
Dane Cameron Snares the Pole for One of Tomorrow's Three Races at Snetterton
Attleborough, England (November 4, 2006) ---- Dane Cameron stunned the Formula Palmer Audi series regulars this afternoon by qualifying his red, white and blue Team USA Scholarship car on the pole for tomorrow's second round of the FPA Autumn Trophy at Snetterton. Cameron will start fourth for Race One, while teammate Robert Podlesni will start sixth and seventh for the first two (of three) races after being caught in traffic on his best laps.
"I am elated to be on pole," said 18-year-old Cameron, from Sonoma, Calif. "I couldn't be happier. This is my first time at Snetterton as well as my first proper day in the car so it is fantastic. I really want to thank everyone who supports the Team USA Scholarship program and made this possible."
Cameron and Podlesni, from Thousand Oaks, Calif., had only a very brief shakedown session -- in damp conditions -- earlier in the week at Bedford Autodrome to get used to the 300hp FPA cars, so were facing a steep learning curve when they arrived at Snetterton in eastern England.
They were able to gain some knowledge of the track yesterday after being invited to drive a Spirit Formula Ford car. FPA series officials also granted an extra 20-minute practice session this morning to enable all newcomers to gain more experience in the tricky-to-handle cars, but it was still a tall order for Cameron and Podlesni to match the speed of 20 other competitors who had extensive experience of either the cars or the track, or both.
The two Americans, however, were quickly on the pace. Cameron posted the fastest time in the second 20-minute practice session and was fourth in the first of two qualifying periods, which set the grid for the first of three races to be held on Sunday. Podlesni was close behind in sixth. Later, in the second qualifying session, Cameron stormed back to the top of the charts to secure the inside front row grid position for tomorrow's second race.
"In the first qualifying session I had a little bit of trouble finding a clear lap and I also made a couple mistakes so I never put in a lap that I was happy with and I ended up fourth," related Cameron. "In the second qualifying I made a big effort to try and make sure that I could get at least one clear lap. The session went red after a few minutes and I was in P5 when I went back out. I had to slow down and build a gap a number of times in an attempt to put in a good lap. Towards the very end of the session I got a few laps in succession and was able to get pole on my final flying lap."
Podlesni, who was presented with a cake earlier in the day by the FPA team in celebration of his 19th birthday, found the going a little tougher but still qualified a respectable sixth and seventh among a capacity 22-car field. In fact, he had posted the second-fastest time immediately prior to the red flag in the second period of qualifying.
"Today was an eye-opening experience," admitted Podlesni. "Practice was a balance of getting used to the car, the track and taking care of the tires. Having to run seven sessions on one set of tires is a huge change. In the second [qualifying] session I had a good run going but was held up by traffic in the last chicane. It was disappointing going from second to eighth after the red, but it was a great lesson on ensuring a proper gap in qualifying. I think I had a lap good enough for second or third, but will have to think a bit about how to get out of traffic more quickly."
Cameron and Podlesni were cheered on today by 2003 Team USA Scholarship winner and current Formula 3 Euro Series front-runner Charlie Kimball, who now lives in England and has been moving closer and closer to his dream of driving in Formula 1 since winning the 2004 New Zealand International Formula Ford Championship for Team USA.
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.