Open: Macleod victorious after 'dash through the ash'
21 April 2010
The 2010 European Open F3 Championship burst into life in the most difficult circumstances for Motul Team West-Tec, with the arrival of Iceland's now notorious volcanic ash leading to travel chaos.
Expecting an enjoyable and competitive weekend in sunny climes, it soon became clear that things weren't going to plan. One-by-one, all viable methods of flying from Birmingham airport to Spain on early Thursday morning were cancelled, it also became clear that Icelandic driver Kristjan Einar wasn't going to get to the circuit at all, and so a small crew immediately set off for Valencia by car in order to ensure that Callum Macleod had a chance to compete.
A mammoth 23-hour journey followed, with the crew and its remaining driver finally arriving at 5.30am on Friday - just four hours before free practice was due to start - having driven through the night without sleep.
On the Thursday, the hardworked team truckie had managed to do a great job in unloading the transporter, setting up the garage and finishing the final car preparations all by himself, and this allowed Macleod to go straight into free practice where, amazingly, he finished quickest. He was able to maintain his competitiveness in the next session, before the team eased off for the day, electing to miss the fourth and final session in order to get some much needed sleep.
Saturday dawned wet, and Macleod was cautious in qualifying, winding up third quickest on the grid for the first race that afternoon. However, despite the track still being wet at the start, he made a lightning start to lead into the first corner before being forced to cede to the local category veteran, and Renault World Series refugee, Marco Barba.
The two cars pulled away to lead by a substantial margin before it became clear that both had similar pace and they relaxed a little, finishing the race in that order and well clear of their pursuers, led by Italian Kevin Ceccon.
Sunday was again wet and Macleod was in determined mood for the reverse grid encounter, Again he got away well, keeping Barba behind him, and impressively picked his way past the four cars ahead of him to finally hit the front on lap nine. It was a position he was able to hold to the flag, giving himself a near perfect start to the championship in the most trying of circumstances!
"What a great result!" Macleod enthused, "For a while, we thought we wouldn't be able to race at all, and we drove all night to then race all weekend with a crew of just three others and me. After that, we were aiming just to stay out of trouble and get some solid results, but to win was unbelievable. I have to thank the crew who have worked amazingly hard, as well as those who couldn't get here but had provided a near-perfect car set up to allow me to do the job."