27/01/12 - Gearbox failure cut short F3 Cup driver Aaron
Steele's prize drive in the prestigious GRAND-AM 200 race after an
impressive showing in tricky conditions at the famous Daytona
International Speedway today (Friday 27 January).
The 23-year-old, who won an impressive 14 of 18 races in
the 2011 MSVR-run F3 Cup to secure the Sunoco GRAND-AM 200
Challenge and a fully funded drive at Daytona, made a head turning
start to the race in treacherous wet conditions. Steele ran as high
as 22nd place before gearbox gremlins curtailed what looked to be
strong performance for the Kent-born racer in the biggest race of
his career to date.
Steele said: "The race started well. I kept it on the
track which was the priority. It was a great first lap and I was
very happy with my progress. Its annoying that I did all the hard
work and then the car breaks, but that is motorsport. It doesn't
matter if you are at Daytona or Donington Park, this could happen
anywhere. The Sunoco GRAND-AM 200 Challenge is a fantastic prize
and to get this opportunity to come out and to do this. It is hard
to contemplate until you get here."
Steele's hopes for a top-10 finish were hampered in
qualifying when engine problems limited him to a handful of laps.
The issues meant he could only secure 54th place on the 82 car
grid, but this failed to stop him from charging up the field in the
race. The Rochester-born driver produced a strong performance in
Friday morning free practice after his Mitchum Motorsport team
changed the engine in the the Chevrolet Camaro, which bode well for
However, just hours before the race the heavens opened
making driving conditions desperately difficult and wet tyres
became essential for the entire field. Steele adapted well to the
conditions and he stormed through the field on the opening lap of
the 3.6-mile Daytona circuit crossing the finish line in 22nd place
at the end of the first lap. The F3 Cup star continued to impress
with laps consistently on the pace of the race leaders and at one
point he was the second fastest man on the track.
With the track beginning to dry out, slick tyres soon
became the most valuable commodity and he came into the pits for a
new set of rubber. However, drama struck shortly after returning to
the track on lap 12 when smoke began to bellow from the Chevrolet.
Steele continued but after a couple of laps he was forced to retire
the car due to a gearbox failure. Despite the retirement, Steele
believes there are positives to take from the opportunity to shine
on the world stage.
He added:"Unfortunately you just have to get on with it I
can take the confidence that I drove the car well and a new type of
car. This has given me confidence that I can jump into any car and
F3 Cup drivers will be able to contest for a prize drive
at Daytona courtesy of the 2012 Sunoco GRAND-AM 200
Drivers and teams interested in joining the 2012 F3 Cup
should contact championship co-ordinator Simon Davey on 07770
368648, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For
all the latest news and further announcements visit www.f3cup.co.uk. Follow F3 Cup on twitter
Photos by Jakob Ebrey