After learning about Wexford-based up-and-comer Kris Wright, I've decided to work on an extended series covering the racer in and out of his race car. Catch up on the series here.
Every career has branching points. For Wright, his latest move leads to not just a new type of car, but a new set of tracks in an entirely different country.
He could have stayed in the United States circuit and raced in the LMP2 series, which features a faster car than the LMP3 cars he raced to a title last season. The LMP2 is also the car Wright had success with when he placed second in his class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona -- where I spent time behind the scenes with Wright and his team. But it's a series with a smaller competitive field than what he's chosen.
Instead, this new branch in Wright's career has taken him to England where he will race in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship. Wright has joined the Fortec Motorsports team out of Daventry, England, after testing with them twice in 2018 and finding the team, and car, to his liking.
“I did two separate tests of two days each last October and the end of November. I thought the car was very similar to the Pro Mazda car I raced in 2017,” Wright said of his testing experience.
“I found the Fortec guys to be great," he continued. "I’ve never raced with a team or done testing where I’ve only made a single minor change request to the car. The Fortec cars are very much on point, so I’m looking forward to working with them all season.”
The Formula 3 (F3) car is similar to the fan-favorite Formula 1 in that it's a single driver in an open cockpit, and it's a return to the style of racing Wright competed in during the Pro Mazda Championship. He'll again be doing side-by-side racing against F3 cars and only F3 cars. The LMP3 and LMP2 prototype cars were both closed cockpit vehicles racing alongside cars in other classes that shared the track.
It's not just the car Wright found so attractive during his test time with the Fortec team. There's a pedigree of quality drivers attached to the series, and racing F3 gives Wright a chance to follow in the footsteps of a number of F1 drivers.
“The competition is why I’m going racing in the BRDC,” said Wright. “The competition and knowledge behind everything is so deep over there. When I was testing, I learned that 18 or 21 Formula 1 drivers came through F3. Marcus Ericson’s brother will be one of my competitors this year."
One of Wright's teammates has a familiar name as well. He'll be sharing the car with Manuel Maldonado. Maldonado's uncle, Pastor Maldonado, competed in the LMP2 class against Wright at the Rolex 24 and edged Wright's team out for first place.
It was later found that Pastor's car wouldn't re-start after rain forced the end of the race, and Wright's team would have earned the priceless watches for their own wrists -- something fun for the teammates to argue about in their spare time.
“I’m excited that Kris has this opportunity with the Fortec Motorsports team,” said his driving coach and racer Nic Jonsson. “Richard (Dutton, the team owner) runs a good operation and proving ground to work with drivers in well-prepared and winning cars. The BRDC F3 series is a great single-seater series and Kris will learn some new tracks as he continues to advance his racing career with more experience and good, side-by-side racing.”
As for whether Wright is thinking ahead to his next chance to take a different career path?
“I’m not quite sure what I want my racing future path to be right now, and regardless if I wanted to do IndyCar, IMSA Dpi, LMP2 or P3, it’s the best thing for me right now," said Wright. "We’ll see whatever presents itself down the road. Right now, I want to work hard at F3 and see what happens.”
He'll get his first chance to impress tomorrow at Oulton Park. The first event of the season takes place April 20 through the 22nd, and I'll catch up with him next week following the races. Oulton Park is the first of eight events, primarily in England, taking place through September, and I'll be here with a preview and follow up from each of them.
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