Double British Sprint Champion Heather Calder enjoyed her first experience of the BRDC British F3 car at Snetterton today, completing more mileage in just a few hours than she would do usually in an entire season of sprinting.
The Scottish driver completed over 50 laps of the Snetterton circuit with the Lanan Racing team, and significantly improved her lap times as the day went on.
She commented: “It’s been great to experience something completely different to what I’m used to, with a lot of track time and other cars on track to contend with too, and it’s been a great experience.”
The Scottish driver has won Motorsport UK’s premier title in sprinting for the past two years at the wheel of a 680 horsepower V8-powered Gould GR55 single-seater. Her 2018 title was secured by four points over her nearest rival – her father Colin – himself a four-time British Sprint Champion!
Calder’s car can hit 100mph from a standing start in less than four seconds, and reach a top speed of around 180mph. She has previous of experience of Snetterton too, having set a category lap record around two laps of the 100 circuit in 2017.
Her drive in the Lanan Racing British F3 Tatuus Cosworth car comes courtesy of MSV Chief Executive Jonathan Palmer, who recognised her achievements in the British Sprint Championship at the recent Motorsport UK Night of Champions.
With cold and windy conditions, it wasn’t the easiest of days to make an F3 debut, but she demonstrated great determination to get over the initial change from her usual environment.
“The first time out this morning, I had a shock with how different it was compared to what I’m used to. We have been chipping away at the times throughout the day getting feedback with the team and getting data between runs has really helped. I’ve improved on lots of things including braking and overall I’m really happy with the way it has progressed.
“Overall, the British F3 car is a great car to drive, and has a lot more feel than the car I drive. Ours has a lot more downforce and is a bit less twitchy on the exits, but the F3 is really fun to drive. It took a bit of getting used to but I feel like I’ve got to grips with it now. Unfortunately, the day was cut short with the rain this afternoon, but with a few more laps I think I could have taken a few more seconds off the time.”
She also covered a huge amount of mileage considering what she’s used to in sprinting, as well as continuous running compared to just one or two flying laps.
“In sprinting we go from a standing start and only do one or two laps against the clock. So to be out on track for 10 laps at a time and maintain concentration and also get the chance to try different things and learn immediately from your mistakes, rather than having to wait for over half an hour before going out again has been really useful just, to get that instant feedback.
“I think we’ve worked out that just this morning’s testing has equalled my entire season of sprinting, so it’s been great to get so much track time.”
Lanan Racing has fielded several top talents in recent years, including F1 graduate George Russell and multiple F3 winner Toby Sowery, and she enjoyed working with the outfit and admits she’d like to have another go.
“The team have been great, I have learned a lot from working with Graham and looking at the data between runs has been really useful. I’d love to come back and have another shot at it, hopefully improve my times even more and get more confident with the car.”
Lanan Racing Team Principal Graham Johnson was impressed with Calder’s progress on track.
“It’s been great to work with Heather today, she’s taken everything we’ve said on board, listened to all our suggestions and that was rewarded with constant improvement on track. She took seconds off her lap times every time she went out and it was a pleasure to see her work rate and attitude both with the team and on track.”
Heather’s season in the British Sprint Championship starts on 23 March at Castle Combe.
Image courtesy of British F3.
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