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Josh Dufek was on track at Silverstone this weekend for the third event in a challenging triple-header for the Austrian driver. Battling through changing conditions, on-track skirmishes and difficult strategy calls, Josh kept his head held high despite luck not falling his way. 

Silverstone has long been an iconic venue on any motorsport calendar – the home of the first world championship Grand Prix and a track revered by drivers and fans alike. The fast and flowing track features thrilling sweeping sections such as Maggotts and Becketts along with the challenge of changing weather and gusty winds.

Technical issues and strategy calls

First out on track for qualifying, the trio of AIX cars set the initial laps just before rain began to fall within the first few minutes. From that point on, the teams had to make the choice whether to concentrate on their builder laps or opt to go for a fast lap before the truly rain set in. However struggling with a technical issue with his DRS, Josh was unable to really showcase his potential as he was at a speed disadvantage. 

Unfortunately with rain falling heavily, the team’s strategy decision to not swap to the wet tyres turned out to be a mistake as despite their efforts, the lap times of the pack improved further on the final laps. Josh reflected on a disappointing result for the team:

“Not where we want to be, we’ve been looking for improvements in qualifying for a while now and we’ve not been able to achieve them. We took the wrong decisions as a team where others were a bit sharper on improvising when the rain came. There are things I could’ve done better, but I was also struggling with a problem with my DRS which wasn’t ideal. We’ll move forward”

Sprint Race Struggles

With the British weather adding a further curveball to proceedings on Saturday morning, the race start was delayed due to the track being deemed too wet. Despite waiting for the rain to clear, eventually the decision was made to postpone the race until later in the day. 

The decision to delay turned out to be fruitful as the circuit was bathed in evening sunshine by the time cars finally lined up on the grid for the Sprint Race. Eager to get racing underway, the 19-year-old racer pulled on his helmet and set his focus on making up ground at the start. 

His start strategy came good as he got away cleanly, avoiding a number of incidents that unfolded in front of him to climb from 3 places in the opening lap to P25. Unfortunately this good fortune wasn’t to last as he soon discovered that he had picked up a slow puncture in his rear tyre. This issue inevitably forced him to make a pit stop and tumble down the order. Returning to the race one lap down, Josh didn’t let this deter him from making up ground where he could and storing valuable track data for the team and experience for his own rookie campaign. 

“I’m not sure what happened really, but it was pretty clear I had a right rear puncture so our race was over from that point on really. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to unlap myself so it was more of a test session in the end. I struggled with oversteer in low speed and high speed sections so we will have to review it and make some changes for tomorrow”

The gamble almost pays off…

Despite the weather appearing to have turned a corner, spots of rain began to fall as the minutes ticked down to the Feature Race on Sunday morning. With wet tyres bolted onto his AIX racing machine Josh was ready to tackle whatever came his way. But as the cars sampled the track on the Formation Lap, the rain stopped, causing several drivers to pit for the slick tyre compound prior to the race start.

The initial charge was short lived as a safety car was called before the end of the opening lap, which gifted a pit stop to more drivers daring to take on the slick tyre. With more rain predicted the team opted to keep Josh on the wet tyre, despite dropping right off at the restart with those around him on faster tyres, the race came back into the Austrian driver’s hands as the rain began to fall once again. Putting his wet tyres to use, Josh picked off his rivals one-by-one reaching P11. 

“It felt that the gamble to stay on wet tyres was the wrong choice at the time. I was on the radio with my engineer and he told me that more rain was coming, so I knew if I committed to the wet tyre the race might come back our way. The slicker tyre runners were much faster but then the rain eventually came and I was able to take back a lot of positions.”

Unfortunately, rough luck bestowed the resolute racer once again as a tap on the rear of his car sent his car spinning across the track into the path of his rivals who, with nowhere else to go, collided with his AIX machine. A passenger to the incident, Josh peeled helplessly into the pits to retire the car, bring an end to his mighty charge. 

Off the back of another difficult weekend, Josh looked ahead to turning his luck around:

“Quali is where we need to focus. With better positions for the start we can push forward and it’ll make the whole weekend a lot easier. We were quite unlucky this weekend, it’s unfortunate, but hopefully we can come back stronger at Hungary and Spa”

Following a week’s break, Josh Dufek will be back in action in Budapest on 19th-21st July. 


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