British F3 Championship leader Daniel Ricciardo admits that he needs to get back to the top step of the podium at Snetterton next weekend in the hope of reversing a recent run of bad luck.
The Australian, who turns 20 a few days before rounds nine and ten, won three of the first four races in his Carlin Motorsport Dallara-Volkswagen, but has not managed a top three finish since then.
"In the last four races, I haven't even got on to the podium, so the first goal is to get back up there," the Red Bull-backed racer admitted, "But I think that we will really have the pace at Snetterton to get back on to the top step: that's definitely my aim for the weekend."
Ricciardo showed strong form in testing at Snetterton earlier this week, but was unable to get within a tenth of Mercedes-powered Walter Grubmüller, and acknowledges that certain teams appear to have closed the gap in recent weeks.
"Hitech's recent form has been very good," he admits, "so I would think that Grubmüller and Renger van der Zande will probably be my strongest opposition - along, of course, with my Carlin team-mates. We found some good things in testing, and perhaps there are a few more to come. I've been training hard, really putting in quite a bit of effort to get back on top. And my mother and father are over from Australia, so hopefully a bit more support will get me over the line."
A close season has seen eight races produce five different winners from four different teams although, despite his 'slump', Ricciardo still leads the title race by 15 points from Grubmüller, who assumed second overall thanks to his maiden British F3 win at Hockenheim last time out. Hitech team-mate van der Zande was a race winner at Silverstone and was twice second at Hockenheim, but remains in a tie for seventh place.
The Raikkonen Robertson team has also been on the up recently, thanks to drafting in Marcus Ericsson to help regular runners Daisuke Nakajima and Carlos Huertas. Ericsson, who failed to win a race in British F3 last season, has since taken the spoils at both Rockingham and Hockenheim, helping Mercedes to a 5-3 lead over Volkswagen in the battle of the engine suppliers.
The other race-winning team in 2009 is JTR, for whom Nick Tandy romped to a popular maiden win at Rockingham last month. Although the Mygale hasn't proved itself the best in the field on faster circuits, the marque has a history of success at Snetterton, although Tandy may be a little optimistic expecting to repeat Michael Devaney's double from 2008.
The four-way battle going on in the National Class is currently headed by Fortec racer Daniel McKenzie, who's won the class five times from eight race, despite usual sparring partner, T-Sport's Gabriel Dias, being in close attendance in nearly every race. Norfolk-based Litespeed saw Brazilian driver Victor Correa claimed a first National Class win for the SLC chassis at Hockenheim - after Dias and McKenzie collided - while Russian Max Snegirev will be hoping for similar fortune as he returns for Team West-Tec after missing the German races.