Jack Aitken recorded the best finish of his GT racing career to date in the third round of the GT World Challenge Europe at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.
The British-Korean driver, racing for the Swiss team Emil Frey Racing, produced a superb performance in the second one-hour race of the weekend to finish fourth overall, with third place in the Pro category alongside team-mate Konsta Lappalainen.
Both Jack and his team-mate arrived at Zandvoort with no experience of the circuit in anything other than a single seater car so the goal during Friday’s free practice was to slowly dial themselves into the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo and the track, gaining as much knowledge as possible before qualifying.
Race 1 was a learning experience for the pairing, with Jack taking over the car for the second stint down the order and bringing it home in 15th place, scant consolation after a battling performance.
The second race was much more productive, which began with another promising qualifying performance from Jack in the morning, posting the seventh quickest time at the end of an ultra-tight session in which conditions swung from a wet track to slicks by the end. Jack’s best time was less than a tenth from the top 5, well and truly in the mix with factory supported drivers in front and behind. Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that Jack had held provisional pole before the field switched to slicks, on his first ever drive in the wet with a GT3 car.
At the start, Jack was battling straight away as the field jockeyed for position. Despite picking some damage to the left-front corner of his Huracán following some over-defensive driving from a rival, Jack handed over a car in the top 5 to Lappalainen, who duly sealed a solid fourth place as cars in front faltered.
Among the Pro category drivers, Jack finished third: just over four seconds from an overall podium finish. This was a superb achievement given that he had been caught up in traffic for much of the opening stint, held up by the battles of other drivers.
Up next for Jack is another Sprint Cup round: this time at the Misano Adriatico circuit in Italy from July 2-4, where he will be aiming to further build on his impressive showing from Zandvoort. Misano is a flat, high-speed but technical circuit, one where Jack has previously had success in Formula Renault.
Before that will be the official test day for the jewel-in-the-crown event of the year, the Spa 24 Hours which will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. For Jack, this will be his first outing at Spa-Francorchamps in the Lamborghini and another important development exercise ahead of the big race next month.
JACK ON… A CHALLENGING RACE 1
“Saturday was obviously a tough day, having started quite far back on the grid. There wasn’t much we could do in the race after that because Zandvoort is such a difficult place to overtake on and the competition is so close throughout the field too. We did our best and had a clean pit-stop, learned more about the car and how to get the best out of the car, which was good. The main problem was being out of position in qualifying as we definitely had the speed to finish higher than we did.”
JACK ON… BOUNCING BACK ON SUNDAY
“What a difference a day makes! We showed we had pretty good pace and managed to qualify within a tenth of the top five for race two and within half a second of pole, so we were very happy with the pace in the car before the race. Then in the race itself, the pace was really good, but we were victim to some pretty heavy-handed driving at points, which wasn’t ideal. Still, we gained positions and made the most of every opportunity. Konsta did a great job to bring the car home; to just miss out on the podium is a great achievement considering the inexperience we have here.”
JACK ON… THE NEXT ROUND AT MISANO
“We’re really building confidence in the team and in the car now, so it’s great to see that all the hard work is starting to pay off with results. I’m looking forward to Misano, where we should have another chance for a podium.”
Source. Jack Aitken