Wins, podiums and lots of learning for Douglas and Yardley at Laguna Seca
By : Zane Shackleton
September 2, 2021
Kiwi drivers Jacob Douglas and Ryan Yardley enjoyed a successful Formula Pro weekend at Laguna Seca as both reached the podium.
Douglas and Yardley were racing for the Kiwi Motorsport team, with Douglas in the Formula 4 car and Yardley driving the Formula 3.
Neither had raced at Laguna Seca before the weekend.
In fact, for Douglas, this was his first international single-seater race meeting.
Both were up against stern competition from some of the United States most promising junior talents.
Laguna Seca is a challenging track for a driver to wrap their head around.
The constant elevation changes, blind crests and lack of runoff mean the track demands a blend of patience and aggression to wring out a quick lap time.
To add to the task, Douglas and Yardley only had one ten-minute practice session before qualifying.
“It was very cool arriving at Laguna,” Douglas said. “After hearing so much about the track and doing so many laps on the sim, it was nice to see it in person.
“Practice was very short. So, by the time I did my out lap I only got about four more laps before the session ended.”
Yardley was also a big fan of the circuit.
“First time I had really driven on a track with massive elevation and high-speed cambered corners,” he said. “Such a thrill, and easily the best track I’ve driven on.”
Douglas put himself fourth on the grid in qualifying while Yardley claimed pole in the F3 field.
He was three-tenths quicker than his nearest challenger and said he still had more speed to unleash in the race.
Unlike single-seater categories back home in New Zealand, race starts for the weekend was a rolling start.
It was another first for Douglas, who had only ever done standing starts in a race car.
Still, he got an ideal launch and managed to hang with the driver in third through the first two corners. He then made his move at turn three and put himself onto the podium.
Douglas clung on to finish third in his first race of the weekend.
Meanwhile, a sensor issue for Yardley pre-race meant he was unable to take to the start.
“As I lined up on pole position, I had an issue with the gear position sensor.
“This meant I was stuck and wasn’t able to take the race start.
“The team did an amazing job to get me back out on track and at least do some laps to further learn the track.”
Sunday had one more qualifying and race.
Having already experienced the track, Douglas and Yardley were able to push harder in qualifying.
“I was feeling good after learning lots in the race,” Douglas said.
“I managed P2 but was in first for most of it. I dropped a lot of time from the previous day, which is what I was very happy about.”
Yardley also improved his pace in qualifying and earned another pole position by an even more considerable margin than the day before.
“I knew where I could push a lot more than the previous day, and the car was hooked up. I qualified one second ahead of P2.”
Douglas held onto his qualifying position at the start and was beginning to reel in the race leader.
Unfortunately, a fiery crash resulted in a red flag and the race was stopped immediately.
The race was not restarted, and Douglas was awarded second.
“Jake did very well,” Kiwi Motorsport owners Garry and Teena Orton said.
“He showed very good pace and racecraft and didn’t put a foot wrong,
“We were all very pleased with how it went, and Jake needs to be proud of his achievement.”
Yardley recovered from an average start to lead the F3 class after the opening lap.
He had established a healthy margin of roughly three seconds before the accident, which meant he was awarded the win.
“A massive thank you to Garry, Teena and everyone at Kiwi Motorsport for the continued help and support,” he said.
“None of this would have been possible without them.”
Yardley is yet to firm up his plans for the rest of the racing season.
Meanwhile, Douglas will return to New Zealand tomorrow and enter managed isolation.
Douglas says his time in the United States will help him quickly transition into the Toyota Racing Series, with a drive in next year’s New Zealand Grand Prix the primary goal.
“I believe this experience has prepared me for TRS better than anything else,” he said.
“Garry and Teena at kiwi Motorsport have been great with helping me learn and get to grips with both the F4 and F3 cars.”