Dan Wells enjoyed his most successful weekend of the season so far at his local circuit Thruxton, taking two top eight finishes in Rounds Five and Six of the 2011 Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship. The meeting marked his first appearance in the series with new team Atech Reid GP.
Wells competed in the first two rounds with Antel Motorsport, but after a tough start to the year, the 19 year old switched teams to Atech in the week prior to the meeting. This meant the Salisbury-based driver only got the first taste of his new car during the weekend's Friday Practice.
Wells explains: “Friday was very much a learning day, the first session was about getting comfortable in the car and making sure everything was right. It was my first chance to work with my engineers, driver coach and the teams done a very good job at making me feel comfortable within the whole situation. We established pretty quickly that I was in a good place and I was quite happy, which was positive.”
With two sessions under his belt, Wells felt confident heading into qualifying. The two sessions saw him set the ninth and twelfth fastest times, easily his strongest qualifying performance of the season so far.
Wells commented: “I knew where I could improve for qualifying, which was quite nerve wracking really, as the tyres go away very quickly around here, so you have to get the best lap in quick. Went out in quali one and put it in ninth, just a tenth away from seventh, which was good progress and the gap was only four tenths to Tio, which I was happy with.
“Quali two we got the timing wrong, but we understand why now and we knew it was a racing circuit and we could overtake, so it wasn't too much of an issue to be honest. Overall, Friday and Saturday went quite well.”
Race one saw a great start move Wells into fifth after the opening lap, however a second lap spin saw him drop down the field. He worked his way back to take eighth at the finish, his best result of the season so far.
Reflecting on race one, Dan said: “The race was really interesting. I got a mega start from ninth and I was chasing [Oliver] Rowland and [Josh] Hill coming up to Noble. I went for a move around the outside, which was really ballsy. It was the best move I've ever done and it was quite personal as well, cause when you're going 140mph next to each, just a couple of millimetres apart, it could have been an airplane crash. He tried to run it around the outside at Goodwood, which didn't work out, so I took the place and came across the line fifth on lap one, which I was mega pleased about.
“Unfortunately I then sent 6kph more than Tio through Goodwood on the next lap, which wasn't the thing to do and I ended up doing a complete 360 spin, had to chuck it down four gears and get going again. I ended up losing six seconds, which was the gap to the podium battle, so yes we could have fought for the podium in the first race, but it didn't happen. We got some good mileage and I got some good experience. The car is very different around here on old tyres, it's like driving a Formula Ford towards the end of the race, so I had to get used to that.”
Race two saw Wells continue to impress, with another strong performance seeing him take another eighth place finish. This saw Dan pick up some more valuable championship points, moving him up to a joint eleventh place in the championship standings.
Commenting on race two, Dan added: “The start wasn't as good as yesterday, my team mate Oscar [King] got a mega start so I was sort of watching what was going on. Went around the outside of [Mitchell] Gilbert, but it didn't work out so I had to back out of that.
“Make a couple of positions throughout the race and got ahead of Oscar halfway through. The pace was good, it was nice, consistent and quicker than yesterday, but I still felt like there was more to come. I felt I was lacking in a couple of areas which I know I can learn and put into practice in the future, but it's nice to get some good finishes under my belt, no mistakes and a good, consistent race pace. I'm chuffed with the results and really happy with the team's performance the whole weekend.”
With the new partnership working well, Wells can't wait to get out for the next two rounds at Oulton Park in Cheshire, as he explains: “I'm very much looking forward to Oulton, I've just heard some good news that we've got a test at Snetterton before that, which will be fantastic, cause we've got the whole day to go through certain things and not under the pressure of a race weekend, I can try different things.
“Oulton is a circuit I've got a lot of experience on and hopefully I'll be able to have a continue improving on my results from this weekend. I'm happy, I hope the team's happy and I think it will be a good relationship moving forwards.”