Gelael Steps Into The Unknown At Vallelunga

Vallelunga, 8th October 2013 - Just 11 days after the drivers, team personnel and trucks left the most northerly visit for the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, they are assembling for the most southerly.

For Indonesia’s Sean Gelael and his rivals, the events of the Dutch round at the Zandvoort circuit are now becoming history as they look forward to arriving at the Vallelunga track near the Italian capital city of Rome.

While Vallelunga has never had the lustre of Italian Grand Prix venue Monza, where Gelael started his European F3 campaign back in March, it did formerly host the Rome Grand Prix. This was held for Formula 1 cars in the 1960s and then became an important Formula 2 race through the 1970s and ’80s – anyone who became anyone in this era raced at Vallelunga in their formative years.

Recently it has undergone an extension to make it longer, and it is very much a case of stepping into the unknown for Sean and the Double R Racing team.

While two of the Italian teams in European F3 have used Vallelunga for testing, most of the other outfits and drivers will need their satellite-navigation systems if they are to even find the track!

With his team having no experience of the circuit, when 16-year-old Gelael is strapped into his 260km/h Dallara-Mercedes racing car for testing on Friday he will have only his knowledge from walking the track on Thursday to fall back upon.

Fortunately, the European F3 organisers have set aside six hours of testing on Friday to allow all the competitors to catch up with the Italian teams and get to grips with what is a highlytechnical track. If there is any prior knowledge to be gained then it will be grabbed wholeheartedly, so Sean will be questioning his Italian team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi – who tested there once in a lower-level Formula Abarth racing car!

After testing, Gelael will head into free practice, qualifying and the first race on Saturday, with the second and third races on Sunday. Once again it will be a very hectic programme that places extreme pressure on the least experienced driver in the field.

Sean is hoping that the fact that many of his usual rivals have no experience of Vallelunga will enable him to have a better weekend, and hopefully produce some encouraging results as the season nears its end.

He was very much on the back foot at Zandvoort as a mechanical failure ruined his qualifying hopes, and the loss of track time here meant he was struggling to chase speed from his car throughout the races.

“I finished all three races at Zandvoort, which was good,” he said, “but I was disappointed with our speed, especially as the previous round at Nurburgring had been quite strong.

“I am looking forward to Vallelunga as it is always nice to visit new tracks. Hopefully we can find some good form there and carry the momentum to the final round the following weekend at Hockenheim.” (arl)

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