Imola: podium and continued championship lead
By Team Das Autosport
Fighting back to overcome issues, Cam managed to fend off his title rival Louis Foster, resulting in a podium in Race 3 and securing his championship lead going into the Summer break.
Visiting the legendary Imola for the first time is no easy task for any driver, and the difficulty is amplified when you are up against competitors who have prepared and raced here before. Despite this disadvantage, Cam approached the race weekend in his consistently professional manner and was ready to take on the new challenges head on. The soaring heat and the very high air humidity made the weekend particularly difficult. To add to the difficulty, the replacement chassis was found to be structurally damaged after the weekend was over, so it’s very likely the car imbalance Cam experienced through the weekend may have been influenced by the damage.
A very old and technical circuit like Imola is always going to reward those who have raced here before. The lack of a Thursday test limited the Baltimore native who had less time to learn the “tricks of the track”, and unfortunately this was further amplified by Cam having to miss the majority of the first of only two free practice sessions on Friday morning due to an engine cooling issue.
Already several steps behind for no fault of his own, Cam had serious work to do before qualifying the next day. In order to accelerate his learning and maximize his chances for a good result, the young American’s race engineer elected to run three sets of tires instead of the normal two. This allowed Cam to squeeze enough performance out of the session for a spectacular 2nd position in Qualifying but came at the expense of losing one new set of tires which would compromise him during the races to come.
A slightly off-beat start meant Cam lost a few positions at the launch of the first race. As he was finding his rhythm and starting to charge forward, a driver in front lost control of his car, went off the track and returned precisely in Cam’s way, blocking him, resulting in a loss of momentum. The result was a 5th place overall, below his expectations given the strong qualifying. However it placed him in favorable second position for the reverse grid start of Race 2.
“Race one didn’t really go our way. I still didn’t feel 100% confident in the track knowledge, so when I became held back by some incident traffic, I used the rest of the race to hone my driving. While the result wasn’t the best, I came away from the race feeling confident for the final two.”
The less than ideal launch in the second race meant Cam was again having to fight hard for track position. As this was going on, the rear left tire suffered a puncture and Cam was forced to enter the pits losing virtually any chance to gain valuable championship points. The lack of new tires meant the young American had to bolt on used rubber from qualifying. This together with an in-balanced car meant Cam had little chance to charge for the fastest lap time as he did in Hungary and had to settle with the 4th fastest lap time of the race and the same starting position for Race 3.
“The tire puncture was super unlucky. I thought it stemmed from contact with another car, but it turned out to just be a freak accident. It was the last thing I wanted to happen, but starting 4th still put me in a position to potentially finish on the podium in Race 3.”
Imola was slowly becoming the most difficult race weekend of the year for Cam and Race 3 was his last chance for a positive result but the starting position meant this was not going to be an easy feat. Cam delivered, and overtook the driver in front of him on the first lap. Cam was now in 3rd overall but the car balance was again difficult to manage, but the Baltimore native fought with everything he had to fend off teammate and championship runner up Louis Foster for most of the race. Cam did a splendid job defending and ultimately pulling away just enough to secure his first podium at Imola, and with it, securing the lead in the Euroformula Open championship going into the break.
“We once again really struggled with the car, but once I made it into the top 3, I knew I had to be ultra to defend against my two teammates close behind. There were a few close calls, but I came away with the podium in the end which is exactly what we need to maintain the championship lead heading into the summer break. Later, we found out that the chassis had structural damage which was the likely culprit for the strange behavior through the weekend.”
The Euroformula Open will now take its summer break, the next appointment being the Austrian Red Bull Ring event in mid-September: a track which Cam knows very well and on which he will charge again for the first spot on the podium.