Sometimes There’s a Buggy: Tony Hall of Fame Reports from Valencia GP3 Test


GP3 Pre-season Testing, Day 1

Circuito de Ricardo Tormo – Valencia, 7th April 2016

Once again back at the Valencian motorsport circuit Ricardo Tormo for the second round of pre-season testing for GP3.  The weather was very good, dry sunny and warm. Arriving for 8.30 I was able to set up in the press area before going down to the garages for the 9.00 start.

GP3 is quite friendly and relaxed compared to Formula One and other series. Besides taking my usual pictures I wanted to interview some of the drivers and team owners, if possible. On my list was Tatiana Calderón driving for Arden and car #10. I want to get a female driver’s view of being in a male dominated sport. Also on my list are Alex Palou of Campos Racing, car #22. In addition, I wanted to interview Adrian Campos, team owner and ex-F1 driver with his team based in Valencia.

I had not been in the garage area for long before I met Richard Dent, Team manager for Arden International. Initially it was to arrange an interview with Tatiana but straight away I was asking about the new GP3/16 car. He happily explained about the new engine which in the not too distant future will have a turbo fitted and then put into the GP2 cars and producing in the region of 650bhp.

The GP3/16 has basically the same gearbox as last year but housed in a new casing, new type of suspension and much better downforce due to the flat floor. He told me about the fly-by-wire throttle system and how it can be set up for wet weather or dry and about the number of fail-safe systems and sensors built into it. In fact, it is so good that gone is the need for the drivers to “heel and toe”. Also, Richard explained that the drivers are suffering aches and pains from the extra corner speeds being achieved due to the additional downforce. Fantastic stuff.

During the morning I did my usual walk up and down the pit lane and into garages taking my pictures. I met Tatiana and arranged to interview her during the lunch break. I also spoke to Adrian Campos and set up my interview with him.

The morning session ended at 12.00 and things quietened down, fastest time went to Artur Janosz, car #6 Trident racing team, with a time of 1,22.755 and 30 laps under his belt. Tatiana Calderón’s car #10 was in 9th position and a respectable time of 1,22.112 and 37 laps.

Now was the time to head down to the Campos garages to meet up with Adrian. We sat down and he happily answered my questions in a full and open manner.

During the two hour break the GP3 drivers were all organized in team order so that they could have their official GP3 pictures taken, individually and as a team.

Before the 2.00pm afternoon session started, I wanted meet up with Tatiana so I made my way to the Arden team garages. There she was waiting. One of the things that impressed me was her willingness to talk about women in motorsport and of course her ambition to reach F1.

Now I have to be honest that whilst writing this report I was a little worried because in order to do my interviews over these two days I purchased a recording device, in the form of a USB stick. Just an on/off switch and you’re ready to record. Trouble was I didn’t know until I got home if it had worked. Well, I am happy to report it did (#editorwasalmosthavingaheartattack!).

The afternoon session got under way at 2.00pm, so I headed off to get more pics and see what else was happening.

I decided to go trackside to get some pictures at turns 1, 2, 3 and 4. I cannot say it enough but I love the smell of the engines and tyres and the noise coming out of those two exhaust pipes. The cars come in, go out, get stripped down in the garages, something is going on all the time but the situation is very relaxed.

The afternoon session came to a conclusion at 5.00pm. Matthew Parry, #14, driving for Koiranen GP topped the times with a best of 1,21.932 followed by Ardens Jake Dennis #9 and Jack Aitken #11.

PS Tony Hall of Fame is currently very busy working on more GP3 stuff from Valencia for your eyes and minds only. Come back to next week! Do check out some of Tony’s pics from the test below.

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