Brazilian youngster Matheus Tobias Leist delivered an impressive debut for Double R Racing during the opening event of the MSA Formula season at Brands Hatch over the weekend, 4th/5th April, with two podiums from the first three races of the brand new championship.
Concluding the curtain-raiser fifth in the points standings, the 17-year-old confirmed his talent with a brace of third place finishes in rounds one and three. Leist added a top eight result in round two, an encounter in which his performance potential was limited by tyre degradation.
Team-mates Tarun Reddy and Gustavo Myasava, the latter only able to confirm his place on the grid just before the pre-weekend practice due to complications with his Brazilian racing licence, each had a tougher time of things but both displayed strong pace and glimpses of much more to come.
Indian youngster Reddy produced a best result of 10th position in round one on Saturday, but brake issues in race two led to a bitterly disappointing retirement and in round three his misfortune raised its head once more after being hit from behind. Myasava, meanwhile, was prevented from showing his true performance after chalking up three non-finishes due to a variety of luckless incidents.“It’s been a great first weekend for Matheus with two podiums, we always knew race two was going to be a struggle as he had pretty old tyres but he did a good job to limit the damage”, said Double R team principal Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt, “All three of our guys have shown a lot of potential, Tarun and Gustavo both had some bad luck but there’s so much more to come from both of them.”
During officially timed testing on Good Friday, 3rd April, Leist made a very strong impact for Double R with third fastest lap in the drier second session, a mere 0.043 seconds shy of the outright pace, and he carried that form forward into qualifying with the fourth best lap in very slippery conditions.
At the start of the first ever MSA Formula race on Saturday, he rocketed into the top two and battled hard for the lead. Following a Safety Car period between laps four and seven, Leist remained glued to the rear wing of leader Lando Norris’ car and looked set for second place at the very least. On lap 21, though, he was robbed of second at Druids but third marked a tremendous start to the season.
Reddy qualified on the fifth row of the grid in 10th place for round one and although edged back to 11th on lap two behind team-mate Myasava, who started in 12th place, the latter had an excursion on the third tour – avoiding contact from another car – which elevated Reddy back into the top 10.
Following the Safety Car, Reddy held onto his position and despite having better pace than the driver ahead, overtaking, as is so often the case at the 1.2-mile Indy Circuit, was at a premium and so he ended the 23 lap contest in 10th spot.
For round two on Sunday morning Leist began the race in sixth position, the starting order taken from the race one result with the exception of the top eight who were reversed, and although moving up into the top four by mid-distance, he ultimately slipped to eighth due to reducing grip.
Reddy again started on the fifth row and held station until lap 10 when he gained a place at the expense of Rafa Martins who ended his race at Clark Curve with a spin. Several laps later, though, Reddy was forced to pit after encountering issues with his brakes – leading to retirement.
For Myasava, round two proved just as frustrating as the first race. Following a spin on the formation lap, he mistakenly re-assumed his grid position – rather than join the back of the grid – and part way through the race was served with a drive-through penalty. After settling back in, albeit a lap down, the Brazilian was tagged at Druids on the last lap and the contact broke his right-rear suspension.
In round three, Myasava made another visit to the Druids gravel – this time on lap one – and ended his race on the spot. Leist, who had initially moved into second from third on the grid, ran in third at the re-start and remained there for the full 23 laps as a constant thorn in the side of James Pull.
Reddy ran in 12th position during the early laps and climbed into the top 10 before mid-distance. On lap 16, though, he had to pit and retire after being shown the black flag by officials. Having been hit from behind, his rear wing sustained damage which was deemed a safety risk.
“It has been a mixed weekend for Tarun and Gustavo but they, like Matheus, have a huge amount of potential”, added Hieatt, “They’re all capable of being top six regulars and, to be honest, I think they have a great chance to be regular podium challengers. It’s been a very positive start to the year, the championship is great and it’s fantastic for Double R to be part of it.”
Next on the MSA Formula schedule is a visit to Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire on 18th/19th April. Next weekend, 11th/12th April, Double R will be in action at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire for the opening rounds of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.
2015 MSA Formula Championship Driver Standings (after Rd3):5th Matheus Tobias Leist, 34pts18th Tarun Reddy, 1pt20th Gustavo Myasava – yet to score