The learning curve has been steep for Aaron Jeansonne but he responded well at Brands Hatch, then displayed potential front-running pace again this week in a test at Donington Park in preparation for next weekend’s Walter Hayes Trophy alongside Team USA Scholarship teammate Jonathan Kotyk at Silverstone.
The dust has settled days after the Formula Ford Festival and our focus has now shifted to the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy. The learning curve at the Festival was unreal; I can honestly say the entire process was even more difficult than I had imagined. Throughout the week, the weather was anything but stable. Jonathan and I were forced to learn the track in basically different conditions every session we went out! With basically no experience in the wet (aside from practicing on a damp track only a couple of times in the Lucas Oil Series and a wet test session the previous week at Oulton Park), I was actually quite nervous with the high possibility of rain here. When we went out for the first wet session, I knew it was time to learn to love the wet, and so I did. We drove in constantly changing conditions so it was a very valuable learning experience to have the chance to feel the track limits as it dried.
When it came time for qualifying, I was placed in the third group. The first two groups’ sessions were dry until a downpour occurred at the end of the second session. I never would have thought that I would have said this, but I may have had a little grin and I was excited for the challenge. With a pair of red flags and a substantial amount of traffic in my session, it wasn’t easy to get a clean lap in. However, after the second red flag there was still a couple of minutes remaining, and I was able to get a clean and efficient enough lap to place our number 22 red, white, and blue machine fourth on the grid of 25 for the Heat race.
Realistically, I was pleased with this effort and knew that we were in a good position early on. What came next was a short Heat race to determine who makes the Semi-Final and the starting position for it. I was then faced with another first-time experience, a standing start. I must admit, I did not get a good start at all but I still found myself in good position for a possible sixth-place finish until I found myself in an incident with a lapped car. Luckily, I had no damage and I was able to re-enter the track and make the Semi-Final.
The state of the track was much more stable Sunday. My Cliff Dempsey Racing teammates and I were in great shape and four of us were able to make the final out of five!
I had gotten an exceptional start in the Semi-Final and I felt ready for the biggest race of my life. Jonathan and I had our work cut out for us though, starting from 16th and 18th on the grid. My goal at this point was simple; to move forward as much as possible. At the start of the race, I had another decent start and maintained position. I then felt I was “initiated” into the world of British motorsports. The amount of aggression and competition from the other drivers was astounding. The drivers I was battling for 15th were nearly as fast as the leaders and each pass had me feeling the adrenaline of passing for the lead! I can honestly say I absolutely gave it my best effort, and I was able to finish 13th,finish close behind Jonathan in 11th.
We now find ourselves in between the events and we were able to test again at Donington Park a couple of days ago. It was nice to return there after learning the car and I felt that a good test day gave us positive momentum moving toward Silverstone. I may have shed a tear when we left Donington because I don’t know when I will ever have the chance to come back here, but we still have lots to look forward to.
Over the next few days, we plan to sight-see the country some more and take a trip to London. This opportunity doesn’t come around often so we are making the best of it! We are also set for a tour of McLaren Monday so I’m really looking forward to checking out their history and spending time with them. After seeing a McLaren Formula 1 car up close at the Donington museum, I am very excited for the tour.
Regarding the Walter Hayes Trophy, I can’t put into words how cool it will be to race around a current F1 circuit. We are definitely feeling more prepared and looking forward to giving our best.
Once again, thanks for reading!