Duncan Tappy admits that he could have featured higher up the World Series by Renault timesheets after two days of testing with British teams Red Devil Comtec and Fortec Motorsport this week.
The new Formula Renault UK champion accepted a chance to test with two race-winning teams as reward for his season of success, but insists that, in trying to understand the limits of the soon-to-be-pensioned off Dallara-Renault combination, he was unwilling to give his all personally and potentially end his days early.
The 23-year old is looking to make the move to the international series for 2008, and made a good start to his time in Valencia by steadily progressing on his day with 2006 series champion Comtec. After the morning session, he was an impressive eighth overall, before finishing the day a very credible 13th among drivers who, in the main, had experienced the cars either throughout the season or at earlier tests.
“Stunning!" was team boss Jonathan Lewis' reaction, "He hasn't put a wheel wrong. He just gets on with the job. He's probably the best British driver to come from the junior formulas that I've seen for a long time.”
What he learned about the car and working with the Comtec team for a full day, he took to Fortec on day two, effectively stepping up from the squad that had engineered him to his FRenault UK title.
The morning session proved disappointing after Tappy lapped seven-thousandths of a second shy of his best from Wednesday, but the team was also unhappy with the car and made some significant changes to it over the lunch break. While again not making as much of an improvement as he may have hoped, Tappy still produced his fastest time of the two days with a 1min 22.961secs effort that left him 16th in session, but just 0.933secs from the fastest time.
“Duncan acquitted himself very well to World Series by Renault but, as far as Fortec Motorsport's competitiveness goes, I'm disappointed, and feel we haven't supported him with what he needed," admitted Fortec team director Chris Gorne, "It's our first time with the World Series car at Valencia and, with experienced drivers, we've found that our set-up has needed some redirection. We wish we could have given Duncan a better crack at it. His talent is unquestionable, and I don't think he'll have a problem once he adjusts to the physical demands. I'm sure if we'd been able to give him something better he'd be much higher up the finishing order.”
While Fortec beat itself up over the failings of the car, Tappy himself admitted that his own performance also needed tweaking.
“The car is awesome to drive, physically demanding and, technically, there's a lot to get out of it," he reflected, "It's very rewarding when you get it nailed, [but] the biggest challenge for me was getting used to how good the brakes are.
"I'm very pleased with both days. There was more to come from me, so I know with time in the car I can be up there. Braking was my biggest challenge, but I started to make progress there and I was happy that my speed in the high speed corners by the end of the two days was matching the second year drivers out there. There's still a huge amount to learn, but the car feels right for me.”