Thomas Hylkema got his first taste of the GP3 Series last week when he took part in the test at Estoril in Portugal. The 22-year-old Dutchman drove for Manor Racing throughout all three days of the test, improving throughout to end within 0.8 seconds of the outright pace.
Hylkema, who raced with Manor in Formula Renault UK in 2010, is looking to step up to the Formula 1 support category next year. He was pleased with the progress he made during the test.
“All three days were really enjoyable, I had some great coaching from Marc Hynes and the whole team is very professional – it's been a fantastic introduction to GP3. I was really unfortunate on my last new tyre run as the exhaust broke but Friday was still a great day – to be within eighth 10ths of the pace in the morning was good going.”
“I've definitely learned a lot over the course of the test and I'm really looking forward to the run at Jerez this week. The GP3 car has a lot more performance than the Formula Renault I've been used to, it doesn't feel hugely quicker when you're at the wheel but that's because it's quite heavy. It's a great car to drive and I was pleased with how I got used to the Pirelli tyres quite well.”
The GP3 test allowed Thomas to move on from a frustrating conclusion to his Formula Renault campaign, which ended at Brands Hatch the previous weekend. He was taken out in the first race by Fabio Gamberini, which ruled him out of action for the remainder of the weekend.
“Brands Hatch was a really frustrating weekend”, added Thomas, “We went in with high hopes and I really wanted to have a strong finish to the season but after Gamberini took me off in the first race I wasn't able to even start race two as the team couldn't repair the car in time. That was disappointing and frustrating but that's behind me now – I'm looking ahead!”
Hylkema will be back in action with Manor Racing during the second GP3 test at Jerez, which begins on Wednesday 20th October.