van der Garde believes there is room for improvement

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Giedo van der Garde believes that Caterham still has room for improvement despite surpassing Marussia in the last couple of races to move off the back of the grid.

The battle at the back has been intense of late, with Marussia’s charge being led by Jules Bianchi and the Anglo-Russian team appeared to have the upper hand following the opening three races of the season. However, a rejuvenated Caterham has enjoyed a healthy lead over Marussia in the past two races, but van der Garde believes that there is still scope for improvement.

“There is still some scope, absolutely, so we have to see what we have to do and how we can fix it because at the moment it is not there completely,” van der Garde explained to ESPNF1.

“I think to be honest we will make another step during the season and hopefully it will be as good as this one.”

The upgrades brought to the last two races have been highly effective, with Charles Pic challenging Williams’ Valtteri Bottas last time out in Spain and he finished ahead of Esteban Gutierrez at the Bahrain Grand Prix. van der Garde is sure that the team can squeeze even more pace out of the CT-03, which appears to have finally come good.

“But still I think we have to optimise this and then we will have more potential and we will be faster, but the team is pushing hard so that is why I’m very happy with it.”

Like Caterham, Marussia will be pushing to finish P10 in the constructors’ championship, which this season has extra importance after Bernie Ecclestone revealed earlier this year that the team finishing 11th would not receive any prize money.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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