Scorpio Motorsport's Hector Hurst has been clocking up the miles in testing ahead of his first season in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship. The 18 year old has been out running at circuits across the country as he finds his feet in single seaters, receiving guidance throughout from 2009 series champion Kieren Clark.
Coming into the series from karting, Hurst outlined from the start the need for an extensive testing schedule to ensure he was up to speed by the time the series opener came round in April. The typical British weather has seen his testing dominated by rain though, leaving dry running limited so far.
After his first test with Scorpio at Rockingham in February and a day's testing around the Silverstone National circuit in mixed weather conditions, the Lymington based driver recently headed to his local circuit Thruxton.
Hurst said: “We went to Thruxton for two days which was good, as there's very limited testing time at the track and I think that's the only chance we get to test there before the race meeting. There were quite a lot of Renault BARC cars out, so it was good to get a gauge on where we were relative to everybody else.
“We were pretty quick in the rain and ended the first day P1 by about a hundredth of a second. On the second day, it was wet again in the morning and our pace was very good again. It dried out for the afternoon which was good, as we got some more dry testing and it gave us a chance to test the track in both conditions. By the end of the day we found some pretty good pace, improving all the time and ending second or third quickest, despite still finding the limit of the car through the quicker corners.”
Hurst's testing programme continued with a day's testing at Oulton Park in Cheshire, where he was pleased to get nearly five hours on track in the car. However as the only Formula Renault on track, the team found it hard to gauge his true speed.
“We went to Oulton Park next, which was in the dry. We had the International circuit in the morning and the shorter, Island circuit after lunch. Our pace was again relatively good, but not quite as good as we'd expected to be honest. It was mainly trying to work out how to get the best out of me and the car through quicker corners such as Druids. We got a huge amount of laps in though, which was good.”
A couple of days later and Hurst was out at Donington Park, where he was quicker than his Mtech Lite and Hillspeed rivals in wet conditions in the morning, before the track dried out for some more much needed dry running in the afternoon.
“Donington was basically dry testing bar a little bit of wet in the morning. Our pace was again very good in the wet and in the dry, it took me a while to find my feet pace wise. We were fairly comfortable all day and then in the last half an hour of the day we got down to some quite good times considering the rubber we were on, so we finished the day on a very good note.”
With so much running in tricky conditions, Hurst has seen himself have a few misdemeanours as he adapts to his new car, including what he described as 'a couple of embarrassing moments' at Donington.
“Firstly I dropped the car coming out of the final chicane, hitting some mud on the kerb and finding myself heading towards the pitlane backwards. That was not one of my best moments. Then, trying to weave my way around the huge amount of traffic, I reached my limit with a Ferrari and we had a bit of a coming together round the Old Hairpin. It didn't end in the best possible circumstances but everyone was fine after that, if a little embarrassed.”
Hurst will be continuing his testing next week at the first official series test at Croft, as he looks to complete two or three days a week ahead of the first rounds of the season.
“With testing, you want to do as much as you can, but obviously it's all budget limited. I'm back out at Croft next week and I can't wait to get there. Two days there will be great.”