The Third Euroformula Open race weekend has taken place in the legendary Formula 1 circuit of Spa Francorchamps in Belgium. Arriving to the circuit from the position championship leader, Cam went to work with his race engineer to make sure the weekend would be a success.
Notorious for its long straights where slipstreaming makes for both exciting racing and tricky overtakes, the Spa circuit went through a series of changes due to recent flooding. A tunnel running under the track had collapsed, taking with it half of the old Formula 1 pits and straight line. Both the circuit officials and the Belgium authorities have made huge efforts to rebuild the track in time for the Euroformula Open weekend and deserve a lot of praise for doing so.
After trying different aero settings in the free practice sessions which have taken place on the Friday, Cam and his race engineer have come to the conclusion that the strategy in Saturday’s qualifying had to revolve around Cam getting a clear lap on his own, without chasing the slipstream from other cars. This was a risky strategy, seeing how finding a good tow at Spa can give you up to a second of lap time, but going “on his own” meant that Cam could exploit his advantage in the more technical part of the track where he was clearly the fastest of the field. In order for the strategy to work, the other cars had to “get in each other’s way” but unfortunately this didn’t happen, and the others worked together to find the perfect towing situations. As a results Cam had to settle for third on the grid in race number 1 which was to be run on the same day.
Starting 3rd meant Cam could use the slipstream advantage and charge for the lead from lap 1. After a quick start in which he immediately overtook the car who started in 2nd, Cam went for the attack at the end of the first long straight. Unfortunately a series of moves triggered by the car in front meant Cam was sandwiched between the two cars around him and even though he managed to avoid hitting the car in front, he was slammed into by the car behind in a spectacular crash which saw the other car airborne. Cam managed to bring his car into the pits for a quick tire change but was now the last car on track, with a damaged car. A couple of fast laps and good moves meant Cam made back several positions despite struggling with the car balance. Cam’s determination to never give up was heroic, but the team had at that point decided to ask him to come into the pits for his first DNF of the season because the car was becoming unsafe to drive.
Race 1 quote: I think we did really well to qualify as well as we did without a tow. It’s unfortunate that we were taken out so early, but I’m very proud to have still been on for a podium even after the pitstop with a damaged car. The damage was increasing lap by lap, and it was only a matter of time before the left rear suspension was going to fail in Eau Rouge, so the team made the right call to retire the car.
Starting 9th in race 2 – because of the results of race 1 –, Cam was determined to bounce back after the tricky start to the weekend. The Baltimore native drove an amazing race, getting the fastest lap for the #28 System X car while managing to finish 2nd. The 7 places he made up meant extra points for most gained positions while the fastest lap meant race 3 would be started from pole position.
Race 2 quote: Race 2 was the recovery drive we needed. With the new format, issues early in the weekend can really compound on themselves, so Race 2 was my last real chance of showing what I was capable of. All of the overtakes were clean and methodical, and I'm very happy with how I managed that race. It was also my first time experiencing our race setup given the crash in Race 1, and the Motopark squad nailed the balance despite the lack of data we had.
The third race was another example of Cam’s strategic mind. The System X car had a perfect launch and Cam managed to slowly build up an advantage of more than 3 seconds to the cars behind, which in normal conditions would have meant a dominating win for the American. Things changed dramatically on the very last lap, when a car crashed forcing the Safety Car to be deployed. This brought the field back together, canceling Cam’s advantage and putting him in the clutches of the car behind, who took advantage of the slipstream to overtake Cam despite his best efforts to fight against the unavoidable.
Race 3 quote: I was obviously very disappointed to have lost the win on the very last lap, but sometimes luck just isn’t on your side. What I did come away with was my 8th podium of the season thusfar, so I still lead the championship by a healthy margin which is certainly the primary objective. Spa is always full of surprises everytime I race there, and this weekend was no exception. We’re shifting now to Budapest which is really the opposite to Spa in every way, so I’m looking forward to changing up my driving style for that.
All in all, Cam’s speed meant he has managed to bounce back in the face of adversity and hold on to the championship lead going into the fourth round, which will take place in Hungary early in July.