Twynham narrowly misses points on Formula Renault 3.5 debut

Cameron Twynham’s Formula Renault 3.5 Series career began in impressive style at the Nurburgring last weekend (July 11-13) after a promising second race showing left him on the fringes of a top-10 finish.The Market Harborough teenager – making a last-minute move from EuroFormula Open to British FR3.5 squad Comtec Racing – came home 11th after an incident-packed contest on Sunday afternoon.With no previous experience of the V8-powered Dallara single-seater, it was a baptism of fire for Twynham, who used his experience of Germany’s grand prix venue to slash his deficit to the leaders by 1.6secs between practice and qualifying.Despite lining up 22nd for his maiden race on Saturday afternoon, the BRDC Rising Star was delighted with how he initially performed after a hectic turnaround the week before.“It all happened extremely quickly,” explained Twynham. “The offer came early last week and we immediately accepted! I was surprised by how competitive we were in practice, and were then able to make further gains before qualifying. Lapping under two seconds off the fastest guys on Saturday morning was a big achievement, considering how much experience other drivers have in this series.”A first FR3.5 start didn’t faze the 18-year-old, who gained four places on lap one thanks to a typically excellent getaway, before the MSA Academy member span after a competitor forced him wide. However, a brilliant demonstration of pace allowed Twynham to battle back to 18th, before a late rain shower demanded a careful run to the flag.Twynham’s progress was tempered by a soaking second qualifying session, which nevertheless provided an opportunity to sample Michelin’s wet weather rubber. Despite starting 22nd, a measured and mature approach saw him progressively reduce the gap to his rivals. Notwithstanding his inexperience with FR3.5 machinery, Twynham was encouraged by his off-track improvements.“Reducing the application of power through various throttle maps is a big help in tricky conditions,” Twynham continued. “I was expecting to struggle with the set-up, although the feedback between myself and the team enabled me to hone the car’s settings to my liking. It felt perfect going into race two, and I think we demonstrated that by lapping within a second of the leaders.”It appeared that his promising pace would go unrewarded when he stalled on the formation lap, resigning Twynham to a pit-lane start. However, first-lap chaos necessitated a Safety Car, allowing him to quickly catch the field and move into 14th.A bold decision to extend his first stint late into the pit-stop window elevated Twynham to third before stopping, while an excellent in-lap and lightning-quick work from Comtec’s crew moved the series debutant into a superb 11th. Needless to say, Twynham’s performance was hugely encouraging for everyone concerned.“Cameron did a fantastic job considering everything that was thrown at him during the weekend,” said Comtec Team Manager Phil Blow. “His pace on Sunday amazed everyone, as did his composure during the pit-stop. He quickly adapted to the car’s various systems, while his fastest lap was only 0.3sec off the race winner’s. It was unfortunate we missed out on points, but I’m confident we’ll score soon.”“I was gutted to stall on the formation lap,” added Twynham. “However, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise following the mayhem at turn one. After the Safety Car came in, it was encouraging to be battling with drivers who have much more experience than I do. It was an excellent call from the team to bring me in when they did, despite being unsure whether to go longer. My in-lap was brilliant and the team executed the pit-stop perfectly; it was the race’s fourth quickest, which allowed us to gain three places. After all their hard work, this was a great result.“However, lapping within 0.7sec of the fastest time was my biggest achievement. Along with a top-15 finish, that was my main objective for the weekend, so I’m extremely happy to accomplish both. It’s been a promising first outing and we can only go forward in Budapest. I’d like to thank my ever-loyal sponsors and family for their constant support in my new venture. I certainly wouldn’t be here without them.”Round seven of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series takes place at the Hungaroring on September 13/14, giving Cameron plenty of time to further adapt to his new surroundings.