BRANDS HATCH 25 APRIL 1998 by Stella Maria Thomas
Autosport British F3 Championship 1998 - Round 4, Brands Hatch, April 25/26.
Weather: cold, very changeable.
This race was the first of two rounds at Brands on the same day. The other double header will be at Pembrey in August.
There were rumours of a number of driver changes for this meeting, but as it turned out, there was less alteration to the field than expected. The following changes apply, however: - Adam Wilcox is driving for TOM's team in the only non-Dallara in the series - In the National class, Stephen White (Australia) has joined Tarry Falcon Racing - Mikku Santavirta (Finland) was due to run in Alan Docking Racing's third car but a combination of flu and jetlag meant he missed this and round 5 although he was in the garage all weekend. He should appear next weekend at Oulton Park. - Absent from the meeting was Narain Karthikeyan in the second Intersport car
Qualifying 1st No. 2 Mario Haberfeld, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 41.395 2nd No. 5 Enrique Bernoldi, Dallara F398 Renault 41.576 3rd No. 27 Ben Collins, Dallara F398 Opel Spiess 41.612 4th No. 16 Martin O'Connell, Dallara F398 TOMS Toyota 41.855 5th No. 4 Kristian Kolby, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 41.917 6th No. 21 Warren Hughes, Dallara F398 Renault 42.130 7th No. 9 Michael Bentwood, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 42.197 8th No. 22 Alexander Yoong, Dallara F398 Renault 42.248 9th No. 1 Luciano Burti, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 42.271 10th No. 14 Jamie Spence, Dallara F398 Renault 42.274 11th No. 6 Marc Hynes, Dallara F398 Renault 42.277 12th No. 7 Ricardo Mauricio, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 42.330 13th No. 20 Tim Spouge, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 42.556 14th No. 19 Paula Cook, Dallara F398 Opel Spiess 42.559 15th No. 3 Andrej Pavicevic, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 42.598 16th No. 18 David Cook, Dallara F398 Opel Spiess 42.733 17th No. 8 Yudai Igarashi, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 43.022 18th No. 42 Adam Wilcox, Great Britain, TOM'S 037F TOM'S Toyota 43.275 19th No. 51 Warren Carway, Dallara F396 TOM'S Toyota 43.445 (National Pole) 20th No. 53 Stephen White, Dallara F395/6 Mugen Honda 44.817 21st No. 52 Phillip Scifleet, Dallara F396 TOM'S Toyota 45.851
The weather seems to have it in for British F3 this season. A heavy downpour prior to practice left the Brands Hatch Indy circuit awash in places although it had stopped by the time the half hour session started. It dried out but only slowly and some drivers were a little slow switching to slicks. The result was a rather odd line up with Michael Bentwood appearing much further up than normal in 7th place and Marc Hynes languishing back in 11th. It didn't bode well for the race. Nor did the fact that Luciano Burti was really struggling. The furious Brazilian was less than happy at being back in 11th place on the grid and was seen immediately after practice storming into the transporter with a face like thunder and flinging his helmet down. The mood he was in, it what happened at the end of practice for Round 5 was no surprise really. PSR is not the sort of team that seems able to nurture their drivers if they appear at all fragile and Haberfeld seems to have the upper hand at present.
The race would be similarly afflicted by the weather. Conditions were near to perfect at the start however. Unfortunately, Mario Haberfeld made one of his characteristically poor starts and lost the advantage of pole position instantly to both Bernoldi and O'Connell. Mario is a driver with huge amounts of talent to spare but until he gets this one problem sorted out, he seems destined to make it difficult for himself and so it proved this afternoon. Bernoldi afterwards reckoned he had also made a poor start "but not as bad as Mario's," while Martin O'Connell claimed to have made his best start of the season. "Not that it would have been difficult," said the likeable Englishman. Thereafter O'Connell sat behind Bernoldi, hoping for an opportunity that never quite came.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the field, Bentwood was caught out at the start and came back dead last, while White and Carway tangled and took each other off, leaving Phillip Scifleet to come home to win the National Class. He was a long way back suffering from minor mechanical problems, but at least it wasn't necessary to indulge in any heroics.
With a minor gearbox problem hampering his progress Martin O'Connell also knew this was no time for heroics and settled in behind Bernoldi to wait. Haberfeld was dropping back, the handling of his PSR Dallara along way from perfect and that just left the two of them at the front.
And then the rain started to fall. At first it seemed as if it would be just a light shower and although it was making life trick for the slick-shod runners it was nothing that they couldn't handle. It very nearly caught the leader out though as he skittered through Druids, only just avoiding an off. In his mirrors, Bernoldi could see O'Connell having similar problems but the TOM's car began to gain on his Promatecme Dallara and he was getting worried. At 23 laps, the rain was really coming down and the officials took the decision to red flag the race before anyone got hurt. It was the only possible decision although Martin might have preferred to stay out. "Could I have caught him? I don't know. I think so though."
1st Enrique Bernoldi, F398 Renault - Time 15:51.320 23 laps, Speed 168.75 k.p.h./104.85 m.p.h. 2nd Martin O'Connell, F398 TOMS Toyota - Gap: 0.501 3rd Mario Haberfeld, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 2.982 4th Ben Collins, F398 Opel Spiess - Gap: 4.901 5th Warren Hughes, F398 Renault - Gap: 5.332 6th Kristian Kolby, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 6.433 7th Marc Hynes, F398 Renault - Gap: 7.021 8th Alexander Yoong, F398 Renault - Gap: 8.211 9th Jamie Spence, F398 Renault - Gap: 10.378 10th Luciano Burti, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 12.912 11th Ricardo Mauricio, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 14.730 12th Tim Spouge, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 21.602 13th Yudai Igarashi, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 22.884 14th David Cook, F398 Opel Spiess - Gap: 23.176 15th Paula Cook, F398 Opel Spiess - Gap: 24.260 16th Andrej Pavicevic, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 25.077 17th Adam Wilcox, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 26.791 18th Michael Bentwood, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 27.183 19th Phillip Scifleet, F396 TOMS Toyota - Gap: 44.916, Speed 161.14 k.p.h./100.13 m.p.h. (National Class winner)
DNF No. 51 Warren Carway, F396 TOMS Toyota - Lap 1 - Accident with White No. 53 Stephen White, F395/6 Mugen Honda - Lap 1 - Accident with Carway
Fastest Laps: Hynes - Lap 5, 40.763, speed 171.06 k.p.h./106.29 m.p.h. (International Class Lap Record) Scifleet - Lap 14, 42.154, speed 165.42 k.p.h./102.78 m.p.h. (National Class Lap Record)
Points after 4 rounds: International Class 1st Bernoldi, 77 points 2nd Haberfeld, 53 points 3rd O'Connell, 45 points 4th Hughes, 30 points 5th Hynes, 26 points 6th Burti, 21 points 7th Spence, 14 points 8th Mauricio/Yoong, 12 points 10th Collins, 11 points 11th Kolby, 10 points 12th Igarashi, 5 points 13th Karthikeyan, 4 points 14th D Cook/P Cook, 3 points 16th Pavicevic, 1 point
National Class 1st Scifleet, 85 points 2nd Carway, 30 points