Topping two of the three days of pre-season testing has never hurt a team’s chances going into a new year, and Hitech Pulse-Eight are certainly heading into round one with a sense of expectation.

‘Winning’ testing doesn’t earn any Championship points of course, but it can indicate what we might be in store for over the coming months. Luke Browning, Martinius Stenshorne and Cian Shields will be hoping so anyway.

Reflecting on the three days in Sakhir, Hitech Pulse-Eight Team Manager Paul Bellringer said the team had worked very hard to complete their scheduled running and that things were looking positive going into the new campaign.

“I think on balance, we came away pretty pleased with it all to be honest,” he said. “Luke was at the sharp end of it, which we're hoping is where he's going to be for most of the season, obviously, there's quite big expectation on that one.

“Martinius is our dark horse if you like. I think coming from FRECA, he's sort of got a bit of a reputation but also no reputation, if that makes sense. I think he went very well, still sort of finding his feet in the team and settling into it.

Bellringer looks on as Shields gets ready to head out on track in Sakhir
Bellringer looks on as Shields gets ready to head out on track in Sakhir

“Then obviously we have Cian. He's come back into the Hitech fold because he was with us in GB3 and then he went off and did Euroformula Open last year. He's back with us this year, so again he's settling in quite quickly because there's familiar faces in the F3 team now that were in on the GB3 team when he was with them.

“But I think it went pretty well. The cars ran pretty well, no real dramas. We weren't the only ones to not expect inclement weather. Not really what we thought we were going to get in the desert but there you go. So the first day was a little bit tough, though that was the same for everyone.”

That wet weather impacted the first day of running but, in spite of the interference from above, Bellringer says the team had no issues completing all of what they’d hoped to before arriving in Bahrain.

READ MORE: Browning sets sight on title fight after going fastest on second day of Sakhir pre-season test

Logging 430 laps in total between all three drivers, the Hitech Team Manager says that the unexpected downpour hasn’t thrown the team off their game, but rivals will have been equally adept at handling the surprise.

“We worked through everything that we had on the test programme and what we had for the run plan we worked through. In fairness, even if the weather is perfect, because the track is so dirty when you first get there with the with the sand and the fact that it's not been used for a while, it was pretty much the same last year in that first morning session.

Stenshorne quietly got on with his work during pre-season testing for Hitech
Stenshorne quietly got on with his work during pre-season testing for Hitech

“So, although the rain was a bit of an inconvenience, it didn't really prevent from us doing the work we needed to do.”

Leading the way on days two and three, Browning heads into the new campaign with plenty of expectations and a sense of confidence after completing his rookie campaign in F3.

P15 in the Drivers’ Championship won’t have been what he’d envisaged after graduating to the Championship last year, but having grown into his role at the team and learned the ropes in F3 machinery, he goes into 2024 as one of the more confident drivers on the grid.

Winning in Macau at the tail end of last year will have done his chances no harm, and as Bellringer suggests, it has boosted his belief to new levels, which could well make all the difference going into the upcoming campaign.

“He's coming into this year now a year older than he was and he is certainly a year wiser as well. When he came to us, or when he did his first race in Bahrain this time last year, it was all new to him and he was coming off the back of being the dominant force in GB3 and in F4 before that.

Browning is coming into the 2024 season full of confidence and it showed during testing
Browning is coming into the 2024 season full of confidence and it showed during testing

“I think it was a bit of an awakening to come from there and then the fact that just being a good driver is not enough anymore. You need to do the stuff that he does in conjunction with the team, the car preparation, personal preparation, fitness and so on.

“I think he now realises that is all an integral part of the equation. To finish the year like we did in Macau where he was dominant, it's boosted his confidence a little bit.

READ MORE: Potential, speed, and ability but can Hitech Pulse-Eight put the pieces together?

“In the summer last season in F3, we knocked on the door a few times but then, for whatever reason, he it didn't deliver a win so I think that Macau win has done him a world of good for his inner belief.”

Still, with such a strong grid in 2024, nobody is expecting an easy time from start to finish as Bellringer admits.

“To be honest, looking at the driver line-ups, those who have come back and some of them who have come up into F3 this year, it’s going to be a really strong year. I'd like to say we're gonna run away with it, but I think in reality it’s going to be nip and tuck.”