Jon Lancaster enjoyed a fantastic debut weekend in Auto GP at Brno. Despite only having two days of testing in the car behind him, from a test at Barcelona in March, he was quickly on the pace.
Driving for Super Nova, the Briton was second quickest in the first free practice session, and then qualified in fifth on the grid, just two tenths off pole position. In Race 1 he recovered after being held up trying to avoid a crash on the opening lap to finish in fourth place, setting the fastest lap in the process. He then finished in sixth place in Race 2, recovering well after dropping back at the start.
“I believe that I can be really happy of my first race weekend in Auto GP, especially if you consider that prior to this race I had just 5 days in a racing car from October, and that just two of those were in this car,” said Lancaster. “I had some 'rust' to remove, but despite this I managed to find an immediate feeling with the Lola and with the Super Nova staff.
“In Qualifying I could have been on pole or at least on the first row but I did a little mistake, and in Race 1 I was quicker than [teammate, Luca] Filippi. Luca is a good benchmark because he is fast and has a great knowledge of this car, so being already quicker than him gives me confidence. Besides this, it's also worth noticing that with some more luck my results could have been even better.”
Had he not been held up on the opening lap of Race 1, Lancaster could have enjoyed a much better result, thanks to his supreme pace.
“In motor racing often being in the right spot at the right time is just as important as being quick,” he said. “On Lap 1 I was exactly in the opposite situation, wrong spot at the wrong time, and to avoid the crash ahead I had to go wide on the grass, losing plenty of time.
“Anyway I was feeling very confident with the car and I pushed as hard as I could, closing the gap quickly. When I arrived on [Kevin] Ceccon's tail my tyres were suffering a bit, and the loss of aerodynamic grip that you always have when you are close to another car made things even trickier. I was quicker than the guys in front anyway, but not enough to overtake them on a track like Brno.”
The next round of the season takes place at Donington Park, Lancaster's home race.
“Racing on home soil is always special, and I have to say that I love Donington. Last time I raced there it was in 2007 with F.Renault 2.0 and I got pole and a race win. Obviously Auto GP is a completely different beast but I understood the car, I know how to make the most of it so I'm confident that I will be a challenger for the win out there.”
Lancaster has driven a number of different racing cars in recent years, and said that the Auto GP car compares well against other machines.
“Well I already loved the car in Barcelona, but in Brno I liked it even more,” he said. “It has loads of power, you can drive it with the throttle and furthermore you have a lot of grip and some very good braking, really not far from other cars with carbon brakes.
“But most importantly, you can feel what the car is doing, you get a really good feedback and you can drive it as you want. With other cars I've driven before you always have cope with some peculiarity of the car, adapt yourself to them if you want to get out the best from the machine. With Auto GP this is not the case, the car always behaves as I want, and that makes a huge difference when you're driving on the limit.”