Bryce Aron: Easy Flat?

Written by Team USA. Posted in Bryce Aron, Driver Blogs, Feature

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Published on August 02, 2021 with No Comments

FARNHAM, England – By this point in my career I have been to countless tracks in multiple types of machinery, but this past weekend marked my first trip to the infamous Circuit de Spa Francorchamps in Belgium and my first time racing in mainland Europe. When I arrived at the circuit, through the La Source Hairpin, I noticed the true topography of the track. No matter how many times I have seen Eau Rouge on TV I learned quickly that in real life things seemed to be a lot more intense. Thankfully for me I wasn’t going into the weekend completely blind to the new circuit. The week before the event I was able to get in some practice on the Carlin simulator at HQ. Although it may not be a real car, the team has put significant time into making it as close as possible to the real thing.

Time on the Carlin simulator was well spent.

For most of our race weekends here in the BRDC British F3 Championship we get two days of practice but Spa featured a unique schedule in which we would practice and qualify on the Friday of our race weekend, meaning the teams and drivers would need to learn quickly. This is easier said than done, especially at a place like Spa. Further adding to the challenge, due to the pandemic, the series had to cancel its annual Spa round in 2020.

Eau Rouge certainly looks intimidating!

Luckily this year we were able to go but getting to Belgium itself wasn’t easy. I managed to catch a lift with my coach Phil Glew. Our journey had us taking the Euro Tunnel into France and from there we would drive to the circuit. In order to get into France we had to fill in loads of paperwork and take an array of Covid-19 tests, then adding to the challenge was the circuit’s own Covid regulations meaning we had to take another load of tests just for the circuit. Eventually we did manage to get everything done and arrived at the circuit after a seven-hour drive. For those of you who may not know, I am a bit on the taller side meaning by the time we arrived in Belgium I was dying to uncramp myself from the confines of Phil’s car.

Wow, what a cool way to learn a new race track!

After a long and much needed stretch upon our arrival I was able to get in a track walk around the legendary circuit. I wanted to see the nature of the circuit for myself and what harm would a stroll in the Belgium sunshine do to me? La Source, Eau Rouge, Blanchimont, all are amazing to see up close and, I have to admit, are slightly intimidating in their own ways. I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world Eau Rouge would be easy flat as I did my track walk. Talking to some other drivers I even heard rumors of Eau Rouge being flat in the wet; something I didn’t believe to be physically possible. After my walk I was even able to catch a ride in a Ferrari 488 Pista around the circuit and, oh boy, did I enjoy that. My British F3 car may be faster around a circuit than a quick road car but 710 BHP feels great compared to our 230 BHP.

I was able to show good speed in the wet (Jakob Ebrey).

The race weekend itself was a steep learning curve but one during which I continued to improve. Practice and qualifying saw some beautiful Belgium weather but as Race One came around, the skies began to grow dark, very dark. About 20 minutes before we were set to take the green flag the heavens opened up and presented us with a new challenge – rain and lots of it. As I had just learned the circuit the day before I knew the first race was going to present a completely new challenge, not just to me but everyone. It was my first time doing a wet start and my first time driving Spa in the wet – not much to learn on the go, right? I was initially a bit nervous as I sat in my grid box waiting for the lights to go out, but this would quickly change. As the race progressed I began to gain confidence, becoming one of the quickest cars on track. On the final lap I managed to stick a move around the outside of the second-place driver in the championship on my way to another top-10 finish.

The next two races were less memorable in dryer conditions. In Race Two I didn’t have the greatest getaway which cost me some positions off the line and in Race Three I damaged my front wing in the first corner. Although I may have lost a front wing, I did not lose my spirit.

Oh, and did I forget to mention, in the end Eau Rouge was easy flat, even in the wet!

Looking forward to the next challenge (Jakob Ebrey).

With lots learned and confidence gained, I left Belgium in a better place then when I arrived. As I got home from Spa, exhausted from the race weekend, I began to realize the season has been flying by. Although my time here may be going quickly, we are only halfway done and my journey is far from over. There is much more I still can achieve in the next half of my season, starting at Snetterton this weekend. In the meantime I will continue my daily routine of training, eating well – no one ever warned me of how hard it is to prepare three meals a day for yourself when you’re living alone! – and staying ready for my next race. Until next time.
– Bryce

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