Hillspeed racers show good progress after a weekend of team learning

Aditya Kulkarni made strong progress at Spa.Aditya Kulkarni made strong progress at Spa.
Aditya Kulkarni made strong progress at Spa.
Hillspeed rookies Aditya Kulkarni and Marcus Luzio both made strong progress throughout the third race meeting of the GB3 Championship partnered by the BRDC season at Spa-Francorchamps over the weekend, 1st/2nd June, with Kulkarni posting the squad’s best finish with 12th in round nine.

Notable for being the first ever visit to the Ardennes track for both Hillspeed youngsters, for Luzio the event actually marked his GB3 debut and his maiden experience of the GB3 car in the wet. Like Kulkarni, newcomer Luzio also posted his highest placing of the weekend for the Markham Vale team in the final encounter on Sunday afternoon, taking 15th position despite an unfortunate issue with his car at the start.

Rain impacted the learning curve of Harrow 16-year-old Kulkarni and 17-year-old Lichfield racer Luzio during the two test days, and into the weekend itself, but while qualifying proved challenging there was very good progression from both drivers across rounds seven, eight and nine.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Six of the seven test sessions were hit by rain, only the final run on Friday, 31st May, produced a drying track ahead of qualifying. Luzio emerged from the grid-determining session with a best time of 2m17.030 seconds as the quickest of the Hillspeed duo, just a tenth of a second ahead of Kulkarni, and so the pair lined up on row 11 of the grid for the wet round seven on Saturday morning.

Hillspeed were left happy with their race weekend at Spa.Hillspeed were left happy with their race weekend at Spa.
Hillspeed were left happy with their race weekend at Spa.

Kulkarni got ahead of his new team-mate at the beginning of race one, but Luzio hit back later in the lap with the duo then entering the second tour in 20th and 21st respectively. Each gaining a place on lap three, they were line astern for the remainder of the eight-lap contest and only on the final tour did Kulkarni slip a place to 21st when pipped by Shawn Rashid. Luzio posted 19th spot on his debut.

Round eight on Saturday afternoon, on a drier track but still with some wet patches offline, began with Kulkarni starting 21st and Luzio alongside in 22nd. The former was able to gain two positions on the first lap while Luzio’s initial leap into the top 20 was tempered when elbowed back to 22nd.

Moving up a place on lap two, Luzio then broke into the top 20 again soon after and Kulkarni was 19th after dramas for a couple of rivals. Climbing into 18th and 19th prior to the appearance of the Safety Car for lap three, racing resumed a couple of laps later and Kulkarni continued his progress into 17th while Luzio was edged back to 19th place.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

More dramas for rivals meant Kulkarni rose into 16th and Luzio 18th, but the former was then passed by a recovering driver on lap six prior to another Safety Car period – and that was how the race ended. Due to a penalty for a rival, though, Kulkarni was elevated to 16th and Luzio 17th.

For the third and final race of the weekend on Sunday, round nine, Luzio’s hopes were hit straight away when he was unable to get away from the grid and had to be wheeled into pitlane. Joining the race a lap down when his car fired into life, the misfortune was more frustrating than it might have been as he had the benefit of running brand new Pirelli tyres in the first truly dry race of the event.

Even so, the debutant lapped well and in a race which required no fewer than three Safety Car interventions he took the chequered flag on lap nine inside the top 15 to bring the curtain down on a positive maiden appearance in GB3 – just one week after agreeing his deal to step-up from GB4.From the 11th row of the grid, alongside his team-mate, Kulkarni moved into the top 20 on the first lap and before the first Safety Car period on lap three he had climbed into 19th position.

Racing was due to get back underway a lap later but a collision at the tail of the field at La Source meant the Safety Car had to be immediately re-deployed.When the action did get back underway Kulkarni had moved up into the top 15 but, with less than five minutes remaining on the clock, another multi-car collision led to the third appearance of the Safety Car. With time for just one final racing lap after the clear-up, Kulkarni took the flag in 13th place but was then promoted to 12th post-race after a penalty for a rival.Richard Ollerenshaw, Hillspeed Team Principal, said: “There has been a huge amount of learning this weekend for both Marcus and Adi, so it’s job done where that’s concerned. Marcus had never driven the GB3 in the wet and Adi had only had the wet sessions at Oulton Park at the start of the season, so they have had a big curve in front of them and should be pleased with their progress.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It was disappointing to have the issue with Marcus’ car at the start of race three, it just wouldn’t fire-up but for no apparent reason – MSV and Mountune are looking into the cause. As soon as it was in pitlane it fired-up, so had team personnel been allowed onto the grid he would’ve caught the train under the Safety Car rather than going a lap down. He had the pace to come through.”

There is now a three-week break in the GB3 calendar with rounds 10, 11 and 12 taking place over the weekend 22nd/23rd June at the Hungaroring near Budapest.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.