Nick Tandy is pinning his hopes of glory in the 2009 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series on Mygale bringing to an end years of Dallara dominance in the championship – and he is confident that his small JTR team can take on the big boys in what looks like being one of the most hotly-fought campaigns in years.
The 24-year-old graduated to British F3 last season, after finishing inside the top three in Formula Ford UK for two years in succession and triumphing in the prestigious Formula Ford Festival in 2007. He admitted that it had been quite a jump – but he recognises, equally, that progress and improvements came thick and fast.
“It was a big step,” he told Crash.net Radio
, “but at the end of the day it's still about making what you've got – a racing car – go as fast as you possibly can. As far as the driving aspect goes, it's very different – another discipline – but generally it's the same as anything, about just finding that last little bit.
“It's learning what you need out of the car and then how to produce that. For a first season in the series having just progressed from Formula Ford, it was good. Towards the end of the season things really came on strong and we developed some new parts for the car, and that has progressed through the winter and into this year. With the work that Mygale have done in France, it's looking really good going into our second year.”
Three late rostrum finishes at Spa-Francorchamps, Silverstone and Donington Park earned Tandy ninth place in the final drivers' standings, and the Bedford-born star is optimistic of finishing rather higher up still in 2009, as the one-car JTR outfit readies itself to take the fight to the establishment with – following the surprise recent withdrawal of Ultimate Motorsport [see separate story – click here
] – the only Mercedes-powered Mygale in the field. He acknowledges that could either turn out to be the biggest thorn in the side of the expected contenders...or else the biggest thorn in their own.
“Obviously it's a huge challenge,” he underlined. “You cannot underestimate the fact that virtually every other Formula 3 car in the world is made in Italy, but there was a time when Dallara came in as the underdog and they took over. There's reason to believe that could happen for Mygale too.
“Eventually Dallara's reign is going to come to an end; we're hoping that will be with the Mygale car, because at the moment we're one of the only teams that has it, so if we've got a car advantage there then it's to our benefit. At this stage of the season it's very difficult to tell; obviously we'll know more come the first qualifying session at Oulton Park.
“Yes, we have fully professional staff at JTR – the guys in the team I wouldn't change for anybody, and that is the truth – but the fact that we are just running the one car means that it takes more time to test and develop parts and that all the guys have to put in late hours, which I'm sure nobody wants to. We all love what we're doing, though; we're doing it not only as a job, but because we want to race and we want to win.”
TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE