Colin Queen takes ninth in learning wet weekend at Spa

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Colin Queen takes ninth in learning wet weekend at Spa

STAVELOT, Belgium (3 June 2024) – American racer Colin Queen came from the back of the pack to score a ninth-place finish in Sunday’s GB3 Championship final race of the weekend, capping off a learning experience at the historic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Starting 18th on the grid, the 19-year-old Floridian patiently worked his way through a series of three safety car interventions on the 19-turn, 4.352-mile layout to take his third top-10 finish in the top-tier UK single-seater series.

The rookie, backed by Sotheby’s International Reality, survived a weekend of rainy conditions in his first visit to the 103-year-old circuit.

“It was chaotic, to say the least,” said the Fortec Motorsports driver. “It was a learning curve of a weekend, on a difficult track, for sure. This track is completely different from the simulator, from all the training that I did, that was very, very different from how the track is actually driven. Eventually, I got the hang of it – but that wasn’t until after qualifying. Sim work is one thing, but it’s not even close to reality, which is one thing I learned this weekend. Now I can apply that to every new track I go to – go in with an opening mind. That’s what I did at Spa in the wet. I figured out things for myself, and it paid off.”

Queen ran 10th, 11th and 13th in Friday’s three practice sessions, and then qualified 18th, all in rainy conditions.

“We were really quick in the wet in testing and practice – top-five pace, without a doubt – but I only had a limited amount of time in the dry before qualifying. Then when it was drying out in qualifying, we had limited data so I just went back out again. Unfortunately, I tried too hard, and it didn’t work out – despite showing real good potential.”

The opening race was held on wet but drying track, and Queen needed three laps to improve to 15th position. He pressured the cars in front of him for the closing laps of the 20-minute contest, finishing 14th.

“In the races, we were quick in the dry and in the wet,” said Queen. “It was drying out in certain areas, but they cut the race two laps short at the end – it came down to time. I kept my nose clean all the time and moved up a couple of spots. I think P-14 wasn’t too bad after starting P-18.”

Race 2 saw Queen starting 16th based on his second-fastest qualifying lap. The race was run

in dry conditions, but saw two safety cars and finished under the yellow due to a late incident. Queen was up to 10th following a late restart, but fell to finish 11th after losing a position moments before the final caution.

“I made up real good positions and made moves when I could in Race 2,” he said. “I got up to 10th on the last lap, but got hung up in the first chicane. That was a bit unfortunate, but luckily I only lost one position. It was crazy how many safety cars we got. With a few more laps, we could have made a lot more progress.”

Sunday’s 25-minute finale saw Queen again starting 18th, but he managed to gain three positions by the first safety car on lap 2. He gained four positions before the next slowdown two laps later, and was running ninth before the final incident slowed the field with four-minutes, 44-seconds remaining. The track was cleared in time for a final one-lap sprint to the checkered flag. Queen was under heavy pressure at the green flag, but managed to pull away and put pressure on the eighth-place competitor at the checkered flag. He was only 4.123-seconds behind the winner at the finish.

“It was really difficult not to hit anyone, or have anyone hit me,” Queen said. “Absolute chaos! Everyone was trying to make up as many positions as possible. Fortunately, I kept my nose clean the whole time and made the moves when I could. I had one close call at the start, but that was it. I was happy with P-9, but it could have been at least P-7 according to what we showed in testing. The preparation of learning to attack around here paid off really well.”

Queen scored points in all three races, moving up to 11th in the standings – only one point behind 10th.

Queen will be in a similar learning situation in three weeks when GB3’s European swing continues June 22-23 in his first visit to the Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary.

“I’ve done a lot of sim racing around there, and it’s a fun track to race on,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult because temperatures there are typically 40-degrees Celsius during the summer, and that’s really damn hot. I need to focus on the first outing in the dry, and work from there.”