The first racing weekend of the F3 Cup season was a weekend full of numbers. UWR, the only student team to compete in the F3 Cup, took part in a qualifying session and three races. The first of those three races would be pro-driver Shane Kelly’s 50th race in a single-seater for UWR, while almost three-quarters of the students would be experiencing a race weekend for the first time.
Confidence was high in the UWR paddock after two strong pre-season test days, with all staff and students knowing their roles and displaying the professionalism and attention to detail they have become known for. 13 students, lead by Chief Student Engineer Katie Leverton spent the winter working with academic and technical staff, analysing data and tweaking car set-ups to identify strengths and weaknesses at each of the tracks, and put together plans to create a consistent car for the whole season.
A tense, tightly contested qualifying session saw UWR starting from 3rd on the grid for Race 1 and 2. The result of Race 2 would determine our position for Race 3. The team knew that qualifying in the top 3 would give Shane a great platform, and despite not qualifying in pole position, the team showed faith in their preparation, their strategy and each other as the races began.
Race 1 saw a jostle for position, with Shane gaining a place to finish in 2nd, closely behind 2017 champion Jacopo Sebastiani. Race 2 was even more tense as Shane battled with veteran driver Stuart Wiltshire, the two hotly contesting 2nd place. In the end, Wiltshire managed to hold off the charging wolf of UWR, and Shane claimed 3rd place, his second podium of the weekend.
UWR’s strategy had been designed to give more stability on older tyres in the 3rd and longest race of the weekend. Starting once again from 3rd place, Shane put in his strongest start of the weekend, and he had claimed 1st place by the end of lap 1! He controlled the race from the front, keeping a fast top 5 behind him and as he took the chequered flag to seal 1st place, Shane was the only driver to feature on all three podiums of the weekend.
Dave Tucker, Principal Lecturer in Motorsport in the School of Engineering, said: "To start the 2018 season with three podiums and be leading the championship for the third year running is testament to the passion to learn and the desire to win exhibited by the students. With the tremendous support of the new and returning sponsors, as well as the staff of the School of Engineering, we’re hopeful for another competitive year."
You can read detailed race reports here: