Douglas Motorsport showed their experience with a brilliant qualifying performance at Snetterton this past weekend (7/8 August), but on-track misfortune meant those efforts went unrewarded in the latest meeting of the newly re-branded GB3 championship – formerly known as BRDC British Formula 3.
The team welcomed Australian youngster Tommy Smith to the team for the visit to Norfolk, joining Reema Juffali who missed out on a podium finish following a strong showing in the recent overseas visit to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium last month.
Douglas Motorsport enjoyed success here last season in the hands of Ulysse De Pauw, and after a learning brace of days for the rookie duo across Thursday and Friday racking up important miles, the two enjoyed a very promising qualifying session the following day.
With rain making its first of many appearances just prior to the 20-minute timed session, both Douglas Motorsport drivers ventured out on track on wet tyres looking to put in a solid opening banker lap with the conditions potentially turning. That proved to be case and a pair of quick laps from both put them inside the top 10 as Smith – backed by SCT Logistics – surged up to eighth on the grid for his debut.
Juffali also earned her personal best qualifying result of the season in 10th, and the weather twisted and turned once again in time for race one later that afternoon as both Douglas cars switched to slick tyres for the opening contest. A hectic opening few laps would cost the pair track position, but Juffali proceeded to recover well, climbing the field to be on the tail of her team-mate Smith as they finished 12th and 13th by the chequered flag.
Both had a more difficult job on Sunday morning in the weekend’s second race, Smith qualifying highest of the Douglas pairing in 13th. The drivers kept up the pressure on those around them, gaining more experience with Smith taking 15th spot – two ahead of Juffali – prior to a great opportunity to shine in the final race of the weekend.
That would come from the reverse grid, as both Douglas drivers completed a second qualifying lap good enough to count towards the reverse format while others squandered that chance. Juffali grabbed a front row spot and held a top-five position in the opening corners. Smith lined up immediately behind his team-mate, but the rookie was tagged into a spin at the opening corner.
The setback put the fire in Smith’s belly as he reeled off several fastest laps to catch the pack once again, catching and passing his team-mate Juffali who was forced wide in a number of aggressive battles during the early laps of the race. Smith would finish 15th once again, two spots ahead of Juffali in a result that arguably did not match the team’s ultimate pace.
“In qualifying I feel we showed our experience by getting the two lap times in when we most needed them, and that set us up well for the weekend. Reema’s best qualifying result of the year shows her improvement, and with more experience at Silverstone already under her belt we’re optimistic she can add another great result next weekend. By the end of the day we were seeing strong pace from Tommy, who was also very unlucky to be taken out of a race which he could have finished strongly in, as he otherwise handled his debut very well.”
“It was great to achieve our personal best qualifying and to do it when faced with very tricky conditions all weekend. We timed it well and put in a good lap which gave us the chance to fight for top 10 positions. I gave it my all and now I’m excited to head back to Silverstone where we did so well earlier in the season.”
“I think I could have done with a bit more dry running this weekend to get used to the car quicker. By Saturday I was still learning stuff, but the actual qualifying was pretty good. All the races were tricky but if I hadn’t got taken out in race three I could have done alright I think. It became a test session and I was much quicker then. I played around and now at Silverstone I’ll be in better shape with more testing so I’ll look forward to that.”
The Douglas Motorsport team are immediately back in action again this coming weekend (14/15 August) as they go racing at Silverstone for a second time in 2021, Juffali having claimed her best finish of fourth on their first visit.
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.