British F3 driver Rob Austin made the transition to F3000 power this Wednesday at the Valencia circuit in Spain for the BCN team, and the F3 race winner certainly impressed.
Despite not having driven at Valencia before, and it also being the first time Austin had ever driven a F3000 B2/50 Lola, he quickly got to grips with both in the difficult wet early conditions. By mid afternoon the track dried out and Rob was able to undertake two runs on new tyres and what runs they were.
On the second of two four lap blasts, he broke the unofficial F3000 lap record and set a bench mark time of 1min 25.8secs.
Senior engineer Nick Wasyliw was certainly impressed with what he saw. “From the first lap this guy shone, then we put on the first set of new tyres and he flew. The last time I saw someone use new tyres like this was back in '89 and his name was Alain Menu, and I'm not just saying that because he is here!”
Team boss Enrique Scalabroni was similarly pleased. “He obviously is a driver who, like Liuzzi, thrives on power, I have invited him back for another test in early January.”
Austin himself was a happy lad after his go in the Lola. “Awesome! I'd like to thank all the team at BCN for making me feel at home straight away and giving me this opportunity to prove what I'm capable of and for providing me with a great well balanced car,” he said with a big smile on his face. “Of course I want to go GP2 racing but that depends on me finding the finance and that's not easy.”
Austin has driven for the Menu Motorsports squad in the British F3 championship, and the man who lends his name to the team, Alain Menu, was also present.
“I'm here to observe how Rob has progressed and if he is ready for new challenges and I'm pleased to say the answer is yes, he was impressive.”
Nico Rosberg also attended the test and will drive on Thursday for BCN at Valencia.