Juan Manuel Correa improves throughout first full season in GP3
Testing the waters at the end of the 2017 GP3 Series, American driver Juan Manuel Correa made the elite level program his primary focus of the 2018 season. Competing with the Jenzer Motorsport squad, Correa also saw action in the Toyota Racing New Zealand program to gain additional track time prior to the start of the 2018 GP3 season.
“I can say that I am pleased with the results and the way the season went, but not 100% satisfied,” explained Correa. “As a team, we definitely improved throughout the season and as a driver, I felt like I elevated my game. I was consistently the fastest driver in the team with the best results and I think the final event weekend of the season was a true testament to our overall efforts and pace.”
Kicking off the season in Spain, Correa scored his first double points weekend of the year. Claiming an eighth-place result in race one and the pole position in race two, the American narrowly missed his first career GP3 Series podium with a fourth-place finish. With over a month off between the first and second event weekend of the season, Correa managed to keep his points scoring streak alive with another top-ten performance in France on Saturday.
Austria and the Red Bull Ring was next on the schedule and it was a weekend that Correa would want to forget quickly. Showing great pace and poised for more solid finishes, bad luck would enter the American’s season as a punctured tire in race one ruined any chances of the position he deserved. Starting from close the tail of the grid for race two, the Florida resident rocketed his way to just outside the top-ten before the checkered flag closed the weekend. The bad luck continued on to Silverstone as pace lacked compared to other GP3 Series teams and drivers but Correa was committed to making things better.
“After Silverstone, the team took a good look at the overall program and I took a good look at my driving,” explained Correa. “I committed to myself that the rest of the season would go in the right direction as for me, this was the start of 2019.”
Immediately after Silverstone, Correa and Jenzer Motorsports traveled to the Hungaroring in Budapest and scored his best results of the season to date. Ending with fifth and seventh place finishes, the momentum from Hungary spring boarded him to a strong close of the 2018 season. Belgium was the next event on the calendar and Correa continued to show the pace that was missing from earlier in the season. Though the results were not what they could have been, it was a positive point in the season.
Fast forward to Monza, Correa scored his best qualifying of the season with a fourth place effort. From that point forward, the rest of the weekend would fall apart for the young driver as contact resulting from other drivers’ errors in both races hindered any chance of continuing his impressive run on the weekend, which stung leading into one month away from series competition.
The final two event weekends of the season would provide Correa with four point scoring races, one pole position, two top-fives and a podium taken away due to a GPS error on a virtual safety car. Russia was the home of ninth and fifth place finishes while in Abu Dhabi, the American was able to secure eighth and sixth place finishes after crossing the stripe second on track but receiving a five-second time penalty post race.
“Our five-second time penalty occurred due to a glitch in the automatic GPS system that controls the average speed of the car and robbed us of a well-deserved P2. Very disappointing way to end the season, but very happy with the improvements that we made from back at the beginning of the year.”
Following the final GP3 Series event, Correa tested in the FIA F2 car with Charouz Racing showing outstanding pace. Topping day two of testing and scoring the third fastest lap in day three, the overall outcome of the test was positive as the focus shifts for 2019.
Correa continued, “Plans have yet to be finalized but we are exploring all of our options for next season. Hopefully, I’ll be able to announce something soon.”
Before the start of the 2018 GP3 Season, Correa and his Jenzer Motorsport engineer took part in the five-race Toyota Racing New Zealand program. Looking to form a bond that would last throughout the season, Correa achieved much success scoring multiple podium results, race wins and fast lap honors.
JM Correa would like to thank all his marketing partners for another successful season in the GP3 Series. A special thank you to NOE Sushi Bar, Faico-Motriz, US Performance Academy, ACCUS and Bell Helmets as well as his team, Jenzer Motorsports for the constant and consistent improvement throughout the race season.
Photos by: Joan Codina