Conor Daly – Return To The UK

Written by Team USA. Posted in Conor Daly, Driver Blogs

Published on September 22, 2009 with No Comments

Indianapolis, Ind. (September 22, 2009) – I have just returned from a trip to Northern Ireland and England to test a Formula Renault car. It was my first time driving a race car in the UK since the Walter Hayes Trophy! I was very excited to return to the UK to drive because it’s my goal to be competing in Europe.

I first got into the Formula Renault Monday the 14th which was the start of a three-day test at the Kirkistown circuit in Northern Ireland. I was testing with Wayne Douglas Motorsport which is primarily a Formula Renault testing team. Wayne has run drivers such as Ali Jackson, Adam Christodoulou, Bruno Senna and Martin Plowman. Wayne probably knows everything there is to know about a Renault so I knew I was in good hands. My first thought when I saw the car was that it was really small! It was very different from the Star Mazda car. The cockpit was also quite small. I started the day by making a seat and getting fitted to the car which didn’t take long. I’m not especially picky when it comes to fitting well into a car, I like to just get in and drive!

After 10 laps in the car I was pretty impressed. The car was actually quite quick and very nimble. The rest of the day went very well and I got up to speed quickly. The second and third days were surprisingly dry and also went very well. I ended up being the quickest person they had around Kirkistown.

Next on the list of things to do was to hop on the ferry to England. The last time I was on the ferry I had an absolutely terrible experience! Right after the Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival last October, Josef and I flew over to Ireland to visit with my family and hang out for a while. After our time in Ireland we went to take the ferry back to England in the worst possible weather. The ferry ride was incredibly rough and I felt sick the entire time! So fortunately this time on the ferry it was very nice and smooth and I slept the whole way to England. Once we got to the port of Holyhead we had a long drive ahead of us to get to Rockingham. We were going to Rockingham to pick up Wayne’s road car so we all didn’t have to ride in the big truck. Then we started the drive to Snetterton so I could test there Friday.

I was hoping to really get to know the track and turn some quick times but when we got there, there was a massive amount of other cars testing at the same time as me. The entire day I got around two clear laps! So unfortunately I couldn’t do any quick times but at least I learned the track. I had heard a lot about Snetterton and my Dad had raced there in his day. I thought the track was really fun! The track flows well and is really enjoyable.

The Snetterton test took place on Friday and there was actually a Formula Renault race weekend on at Rockingham on Saturday and Sunday. I went to Rockingham Saturday morning to meet with some teams just to get a feeling for the series and see how things might work if I wanted to do the championship next year. I was really impressed because the teams looked extremely professional. After talking with some teams and watching one of the Renault qualifying sessions, we decided to try and make it to Brands Hatch to watch my fellow Team USA Scholarship winner Josef Newgarden qualify for one of his British Formula Ford Championship races!

I was riding with Wayne toward Brands when something very frustrating happened… We ran out of gas! The weird thing was that the gas gauge still said we had a quarter of a tank! So there we were, standing on the side of the road unable to make it to Brands to see Josef. So when we got the car fixed (Wayne had broken something while trying fix the gas gauge…), I had to make it to the Birmingham airport that night for a flight Sunday morning to Atlanta for my next Star Mazda race.

My goal for next year is to be competing in Europe and this trip to the UK was hopefully the first step to achieving it!

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