News 23 May 2017

Hitech Power to a Pau Podium

Often revered as the cousin to the historic street circuit of Monaco, with streets steeped in racing history, Pau is one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar. This challenge did not daunt Hitech’s fearless foursome, as they tackled twists and tight turns to bring home a healthy haul of points. Topping off the weekend with Ralf’s sensational podium in the prestigious GP de Pau, it was a thrilling third round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

From the palm tree lined streets to the snow of the Pyrenees, weather always plays a part to proceedings in Pau, Friday was no exception with a damp track setting the scene for practice and qualifying. Continuing into Saturday, clouds gathering overhead as the team headed to the grid, whispers confirming we were in for an exciting first outing on the French streets.

Teammates tussle

Launching off the line, the grid made a clean getaway with Jake Hughes running highest of our Hitech heroes in P6. It wasn’t long before Nikita Mazepin and Ralf Aron joined the action, squeezing every inch of track to leap into P7 & P8 respectively. With an early safety car bunching the field, rain began to fall for the restart, back on the pit-wall we held our breath during the close-fought chase between Nikita and Ralf. Giving it gusto, our Estonian ace engaged his focus on our Russian rocket ahead, but Nikita expertly touched each apex to hold off the charge behind. As the track dampened Jake found himself gliding across the track into the Foch chicane, unable to find any grip he collided with the wall, sadly bringing his race to an end. A mere lap later, Mawson and Dennis found themselves suffer from the same fate, their retirement promoting Nikita and Ralf to a well-deserved 4th and 5th. Boosted by a valuable haul of points, the team reset focus for qualifying.

 

Hitech train hauling those points

With a marshall-fronted band playing music on the grid, Pau truly showed it’s unique festival atmosphere, as excitement hit fever pitch on sunny Sunday. Qualifying from 5th and 6th for Race Two, Ralf Aron and Nikita Mazepin were poised for another inter-team battle. Losing out to Newey at the start, Ralf kept right on his tail as they swept around the 2.76km long track, whilst Jake Hughes found his chance to leapfrog teammate Mazepin. With a fierce battle throughout, the tightly wound streets offered little opportunity for overtaking, as our foursome hunted down more championship points. In only his second outing on a street circuit, Takasude gave a strong performance to hold off Piquet, Zhou and Beckmann behind. With the Hitech train powering to another strong point finish, there were high-fives all round, before attention was turned to the big one – the 67th running of the Grand Prix de Pau.

Pau-ering to the Pau-dium

With grandstands packed to the rafters for the historic race the grid roared off the line for the final time. Boosted by two thrilling performances, Ralf made great strides in chasing down Newey, threading his Hitech machine with expert precision, it was clear we were in for quite a showing from the hungry Estonian. As the safety car was called, it gave us chance to catch our breath before restart saw Ralf immediately power his Mercedes-charger down the inside of Newey. Holding his nerve, he ran side-by-side with the Brit, to complete a sensational pass into the hairpin. Caught out by the back of concertina into the final turn, Jake Hughes was forced to retire with damage, before the same fate that fell upon Nikita Mazepin, with a puncture curbing his point-running form.

Back on track, a dramatic suspension failure sent the leader, Norris, into the wall, promoting Ralf to 3rd place. With the clock counting down, racers and mechanics alike gave an rapturous applause as he crossed the line to take his first podium of the year. Tadasuke following with a mighty 7th place, claiming his first points finish in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.