Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi has said that he needs to make the most of practice on Friday if he is to bounce back from a disappointing Australian Grand Prix at the next round in Malaysia (March 28-30).
The Japanese driver completed just one lap on Friday in Melbourne due to a variety of problems with his CT-05 car, meaning that he was left playing catch-up for the rest of the weekend. He did manage to qualify an excellent 15th in the rain, but his race lasted just one corner due to a brake failure.
“The way we bounced back in qualifying in Melbourne showed a little bit of what we can do, but without any real laps in FP1 or FP2 we only had a very small chance to fight,” Kobayashi explained. “With a proper Friday and Saturday programme we can give ourselves the opportunity to show the true pace of the car, and prepare much more for the race.
“Obviously, I’d like to also make sure I don’t have the same brake problems that caused the accident in turn one in Australia – without that I think we’d have had a strong race and we’ll work as hard as we can to give ourselves the chance to really perform.”
The Malaysian Grand Prix also marks Caterham’s home race, with team owner Tony Fernandes hailing from Kuala Lumpur and owning airline company AirAsia. For Kobayashi, the grand prix at Sepang takes on extra importance, but he takes courage in his previous performances there.
“The second race of the year is Malaysia and it’s our team’s first home race of the year, so it’s going to be a good week!” he said. “I’ve obviously raced there a few times before, and finished in the points in 2011.
“This year it would be great if we were able to fight for a point, but we’ll have to make sure we have a better Friday than we did in Australia if we’re going to have a stronger weekend at Sepang.”
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.