Following the success of his first car race event at Spa-Francorchamps one month ago, Irish teenager Alex Dunne faced a tough challenge at round two of the FIA Spanish F4 Championship at Navarra on May 29th & 30th, as his chances of repeating his Belgian podium were ruined by a major mechanical issue in qualifying.
With his Pinnacle Motorsport team having diagnosed and fixed the problem, the Offaly youngster spent the remainder of the weekend fighting his way back into contention, to finish the weekend with a best result of seventh in race three, having moved his way back onto the pace of the front runners.
Handling issues in Saturday’s first qualifying session restricted Alex’s speed, despite the team making numerous changes to try and give him more grip at the rear end of the car. Following the session a crack was discovered in a critical chassis component, where the rear suspension attaches, which turned out to be the cause of the Irish drivers handling woes. The chassis issue meant that Alex would have to start from seventeenth in the opening two races, on a track where it is notoriously difficult to overtake.
The repair to the rear end of Dunne’s car meant that the team had to start from scratch on set up, due to the chassis now being stiffer. Some progress was made in race one, where fourteenth place was the result, but in the shorter second race, fifteenth was as high as Alex could rise.
With the car’s handling improving all the time, Alex was in a much better place in qualifying for race three and towards the end of the session was on his way to a lap time good enough for a front row start. However, the session was red flagged before the Irishman could complete his lap and in the short re-started session he could not get a clear lap to try and repeat the performance. The result was a less than ideal eleventh on the grid for the final race of the weekend, but Alex was quickly back to his Belgian form, as he climbed to seventh at the flag, less than four seconds off the race winner.
Alex summed up his weekend saying, “That was tough. We were bound to have difficulties at some time during the year but I was not expecting a weekend like this. I’m glad we found the issue when we did as we can now get on with fixing the set up of the car and we have already made good progress through the three races since the fault was diagnosed. We don’t race again until July but we have three tests arranged between now and the next round so I’m sure we will continue to make progress before we are back in action in Portugal on July 17th. After a weekend like this it is more important than ever to thank my supporters, VTL, Maxus, Harris Group, KCMG, Reynolds Logistics, Artisan Marble, PDS Associates, Xpress Health and Motorsport Ireland without whom I would not be able to race.”
Alex Dunne will be back on track in just over a weeks time for two days of testing at Motorland Aragon followed by outings at Portimao in Portugal and Valencia, Spain, before the return to race action in mid July.