New Zealander Ryan Yardley returns to action in the Porsche Carrera Cup North America this weekend, taking to the renowned Watkins Glen International in New York for two races.
Yardley currently sits sixth in the standings and has been on a good run of form of late, most notably charging from 19th on the grid to finish 4th in Race 1 at Miami, as the event ran in support of the Miami Grand Prix, before returning to the points in Race 2 by coming home 8th.
Despite the extended break, the Kiwi says he is prepped for a big weekend and has used his time off wisely to continue to improve.
“We’ve had a couple of really good events that have seen us move up to sixth in the championship, only two points behind fourth, ” Yardley told Velocity News.
“Here at Watkins, we just need to make sure, once again, that we qualify up the front. It looks like it could be a very hard track to pass on with no real long brake zones, making it critical to qualify near the front and take any opportunity that presents itself to move up the grid.
“The goal is to keep scoring some good points,” he continued. “It’s Round 4 of 8 this weekend, so we’re very close to the mid-point of the season, making point scoring crucial. Top five is where I want to be, ultimately fighting for podiums.
“We’ve had a really good two day test since Miami. It was our first time out on an official test since before the opening round. It was really good to get some laps in and keep learning away from being under pressure on a race weekend. I think we made some gains in the car and also with my driving, so hopefully that shows on track this weekend.”
American Riley Dickinson has built a commanding lead in the standings, topping second-placed Tom Sargent by 54 points. Dickinson has won five of this season’s six races, with Will Martin the other victor and sitting comfortably in third.
Keeping pace with the front-runners is a goal of Yardley’s at Watkins Glen, with the Kiwi saying he thinks he’s looking to take the fight to the championship leader now he has a better understanding of the car.
“Riley is definitely the man to beat,” he says. “He’s been racing these cars for three or four years now so is very, very fast.
“I’m more comfortable in the car now, with this round being only my fourth race weekend in a sports car.I’m learning more every time I go out but just need to keep working closely with the team to improve myself and getting stronger in the car.
“We’ve seen a good improvement since Round 1 and we just need to keep improving. It’s a very competitive series, I’m up against some really strong guys so I just have to keep learning making sure we’re always moving forward.”
The Porsche Carrera Cup will hit the track for two practice sessions on Thursday before returning for qualifying at 12.35 am (NZ Time) on Saturday morning.
The 40-minute Race 1 begins at 5.25 am on Saturday morning, while Race 2 begins at 4.20 am on Sunday.
Both races will be available to viewed free on the Porsche Carrera Cup North America website.