Alan van der Merwe clinched the 2003 British Formula Three Championship at Donington Park with two superb drives last weekend.
The British F3 Championship is regarded as one of the best proving grounds for young driver talent and Alan van der Merwe has dominated the 2003 season, winning a total of nine races on his way to the crown.
"Winning the championship is absolutely perfect. It's slowly sinking in that we've actually done it," said Alan "I'm really happy. My mechanics and engineer have worked really hard all season to achieve this result and we've finally clinched it. It's just a shame we didn't do it with a win this weekend."
Alan's first race at Donington Park was one of his greatest ever drives. He started on slick tyres on a wet track when virtually everyone else started on wet tyres. In the early laps the renowned rain master was skating around with no grip, desperately trying to keep his Carlin Motorsport machine on the road. He slipped down to 18th place, but as the track began to drive his tyre choice was perfect and he began to catch the leaders.
"In the early laps it was horrible, it was like driving on ice," said Alan. "Plus I was racing other cars and drivers I didn't even recognise!" As a dry line appeared Alan started scything his Dallara Mugen Honda through the field. On lap 17 he was in tenth place. Two laps later he was up to third setting a lap time 6 seconds faster than the race leader Rob Austin (Menu).
On the final lap he came to pass Austin, when the Menu driver suddenly slowed mid-corner taking Alan by surprise. Unfortunately Alan had no choice but to slam on the brakes and sadly he spun out of the race. "I wasn't even looking to get past him there," said Alan. "It was a real shame that I didn't win because that probably would have been my greatest victory."
It didn't matter too much, as with his closest title challenger Jamie Green only finishing 7th in the race it meant that Alan couldn't be beaten to the championship. Despite not finishing race one, in Sunday's second encounter Alan started from second and finished a well deserved second at the chequered flag.
"It's so difficult to pass at this circuit, Rob made no mistakes and it was impossible to get close enough to him to pass. It wasn't as exciting as yesterday's race but I was able to celebrate my championship on the podium." Alan van der Merwe's final race of the British F3 season will be at Brands Hatch on September 24. <pre> Championship standings: 1 Alan van der Merwe 298 points (champion) 2 Jamie Green 225 3 Nelson Piquet Jr 190