Australian racing driver Dylan Young had mixed emotions after the completion of Round 1 and the first 4 races of the 2015 MRF Challenge Championship.
In what is one of the most highly competitive fields in the series history, Young cemented a best finish of 11th place out of 17 drivers from across the world, despite the fact the majority of the field has been racing all year in some of the most competitive Championships in Europe. Racing as the sole Australian in the Championship, Dylan was up against the likes of current GP2 race winner Nobuharu Matsushita along with Jake Dennis who clinched third place in the 2015 FIA Formula 3 European Championship, replicating current F1 driver Max Verstappen who also finished 3rd in the 2014 Championship.
Having been out of a race car since the end of January, Young’s weekend didn’t get off to the best start as he completed only 7 laps in the first practice with a misfiring engine. Qualifying then saw Young finish in twelfth, just shy of Red Bull F1 designer Adrian Newey’s son Harrison in eleventh place. Another 0.5 seconds in lap time would have allowed Young to fight to line up seventh on the grid and Dylan was naturally frustrated at the lack of track time compared to his rivals during the year.
“I’ve got mixed emotions because on the one hand I’m really pleased to be stepping back into a race car and not being so far off and mixing it with these guys. But you look at the clock and you know that a lot of that slight missed time which would have had us much further up the grid comes as a result of constant driving which I haven’t had the luxury of this year and I just need to work my ass off to keep the upward trend accelerating as quickly as possible so we can be fighting towards the front in Bahrain.”
Race 1 saw Young taken out on the final lap and the damage was enough for Young to retire on the spot. With the Race 2 starting grid being determined by the finishing positions of Race 1, Dylan was left to fight from the back, passing a number of drivers to finish in twelfth place.
Young repeated that position in Race 3 but yet again he had to claw some places back after a difficult start saw him lose positions on the opening half of Lap 1. Young finished 11th in the final race of the weekend, just 0.2s behind tenth, Young was left disappointed as a ninth place was on the cards had he not run wide earlier in the race.
“I was struggling with huge vibrations which we couldn’t put our heads on as soon as I left pit lane for the grid and the car was snapping quite a lot on turn in which forced me wide. At the end of the day, I think we would have secured ninth place, which at least would have got some points in the bag to be ready for Round 2. I have to take the positives though and I’m really excited and pumped for Bahrain and I’m confident we’ll take a big step for myself and all my sponsors!”
Dylan’s engineer was equally pleased at his improvement over the weekend and forecasts a much stronger performance in Bahrain in two weeks time where Young qualified fourth and fifth last year and was leading the race.
Text and via Dylan Young, image via Aditya Bedre (MRF)