Callan O’Keeffe: “I think we can beat the Kaufmann’s this weekend”

Callan O’Keeffe spoke to The Checkered Flag on Friday, and was happy that World Series by Renault had brought its championships back to Silverstone after a four-year hiatus.

The Fortec Motorsports driver had a strong opening day of testing at the circuit ahead of the three-race weekend, and admitted he had watched racing at Silverstone since his early career and had aims back then to race there in World Series by Renault.

“It’s one of my favourite places to race and I’m glad we are finally back here for World Series by Renault,” said O’Keeffe. “It’s a really welcome addition to the calendar.

“There are not a lot of places left like it. When I started out in Formula Cars I watched Silverstone and wanted to drive there in World Series so its nice its back and hopefully it remains on the calendar for a few more years as well.”

According to O’Keeffe, the Silverstone circuit suits his driving style as he admits to liking the high-speed corners that the British circuit has in numbers. In first practice he was amongst the quickest out there, and he hopes this translates into a strong weekend.

“I’ve always seemed to be fast around here,” said O’Keeffe, who has finished on the podium in two of his four previous races at Silverstone. “High-speed corners are like my speciality, if you want to call it that, so it’s nice to be here. Obviously with the first section of Maggotts and Becketts and the last part of the lap as well is really quick and high speed.

“We went out and I was quickest until the last ten minutes when two guys put on new tyres and couple put on some fresher tyres. We are not a million miles away; we’re missing a few tenths but it’s a good start to the weekend and hopefully we can carry it through.”

O’Keeffe feels the Fortec Motorsports team, at their home event, can take the fight to the Josef Kaufmann Racing team at Silverstone, the team that has been the ones to beat for much of the 2015 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series season.

“It’s the home race for Fortec, there’s a bit more extra pressure but the team’s using it well,” insisted O’Keeffe. “We’re all using it to drive and motivate ourselves and hopefully it will result in our first Eurocup win at home, which would be the ideal result.

“I think we can beat the Kaufmann’s this weekend. If you’d asked me the same question four months ago it would have been a different story but you can’t fault the team, who’ve been working to close the gap; the late nights and the preparation they’ve put in, and I think now we have closed the gap and hopefully we are going to be able to show it this weekend.

“The weather could play its part, there’s always luck involved in this. But in terms of raw pace we are there, now it’s putting it all together and hopefully we’ll come out on top this weekend.”

The South African racer is looking to have a strong qualifying on Saturday, with the session defining the grid for both of the first two races of the weekend, and he admits it is his favourite part of the weekend.

“With three races this weekend, the first qualifying session is important as you need to have a quick first and second fastest lap,” added O’Keeffe. “I can’t wait for quail, when the air temperature cold and you have more grip because of the aerodynamics, engines running better, it’s the fastest we drive all weekend.

“Its obviously the favourite bit for all the drivers as its when you have the most adrenalin because you have a maximum one or two laps to deliver.”