2000 Green Flag British Formula Three Championship Round 6 -Brands Hatch, June 3rd/4th. Report by Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite Race: Weather: Hot and sunny. As the lights turned to green Antonio Pizzonia (Manor Motorsport) made ...
2000 Green Flag British Formula Three Championship
Round 6 -Brands Hatch, June 3rd/4th.
Report by Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite
Weather: Hot and sunny.
As the lights turned to green Antonio Pizzonia (Manor Motorsport) made an excellent start to get ahead of pole man Ben Collins (Carlin Motorsport). As far as the Brazilian was concerned that was the last and only excitement of the race. He simply drove away from everyone else, in what was more of a demonstration drive than a race. He pulled out a second a lap at the start to establish a lead of over 14 seconds by mid-distance. On the way to the chequered flag he also set a fastest lap that was over half a second faster than anything anyone else could manage. When asked if it was boring to be so far ahead, he said: "It's never boring when you win!" Of course he might have had a more interesting time if Ben Collins had been able to challenge him. Although Pizzonia was in a class all his own on Sunday, that fact that the second fastest lap was set by Ben Collins does beg the question as to what sort of a run for his money the Englishman could have given the Brazilian teenager...
Unfortunately Ben was in no position to challenge anyone as his Dallara's water temperature began to climb alarmingly. There was nothing for it but to pull into the pits and give up the fight before he cooked the engine. Pizzonia, consequently, was unaware of what was happening to his rival. "I made a good start. I just tried to concentrate a lot this time because I knew it was going to be important. I didn't really pay attention to his car."
An increasing distance back from Pizzonia, Takuma Sato (Carlin Motorsport) was taking quite a mauling from Narain Karthikeyan (Stewart Racing). Although Narain couldn't seem to get by, Sato was never quite able to shake the Indian off. And that was how the two of them would stay, all the way to the flag. Sato was delighted with his latest podium finish while Karthikeyan could see no reason at all to be cheerful.
Sato certainly knew he had been in a race. "It was not an easy race. Very big pressure from Narain. Fortunately I got a very good start; I was second into the Paddock but on the wrong side, but there is a bend and I give him the road of course because the first couple of laps the front tyres didn't warm enough because I have new tyres and I did a big understeering. So that's why I was a little bit off the pace the first two or three laps but then I started going better and it just started happening."
Karthikeyan was deeply unhappy. "I didn't get off very well actually and then Ben Collins got off worse and he blocked me and then Sato passed me and I just settled down for the race. He was quicker than me in all the right places, although overall he was a little bit slower so I couldn't really pass. It's been a nightmare season so far. It really hasn't been going very well. It's been a bad one." Even finishing in front of Scheckter didn't improve his mood: "It means nothing really. The car is not working very well and I'm not happy. We don't know why it's not working." At least they now have time to do some testing.
In trouble right at the start was Andy Priaulx (Promatecme UK). He didn't get any further than Paddock Hill Bend before being pitched off in the melee of the first lap. He wouldn't be alone there for long. A lap later, Juan Manuel Lopez (Manor Motorsport) joined him. A poor start had dropped him back into the clutches of Warren Carway (Rowan Racing) who promptly pushed the unfortunate Argentinean into the gravel. Maybe Warren was excited by having someone else to play with; maybe he just wasn't looking in his mirrors. Certainly Lopez didn't think he was. Based on what happened at Silverstone and here it might be an idea if the others were to get together and buy him some bigger ones.
The main story of the race outside of Pizzonia's stunning demonstration was probably that of Tomas Scheckter (Stewart Racing). Never one to turn down an opportunity he took advantage of first lap confusion to move himself up to 7th and then set about gaining as many places as he could before the close of the race. He was probably hoping to snatch fastest lap as well but there was no chance of that, especially when he found himself behind Milos Pavlovic (RC Motorsport). The lanky Yugoslav was having one of his better days after the last round, and he wasn't about to make it easy for the South African. It must have felt like a lifetime to Scheckter before he finally snatched 5th place with a classic dive up the inside at Paddock. He was then able to set off in pursuit of Michael Bentwood. It wasn't long before he was all over the back of the Fortec Motorsport car but again it took some time before he was able to complete the move. The Fortec car was very wide but it wasn't handling at all well.
Eventually he did exactly the same to Bentwood as he had to Pavlovic, squeezing through into Paddock. It was too late, however, to do anything about third place. Even if he had been able to catch Karthikeyan and Sato in the time remaining, it seems unlikely that he would have been able to do anything about them without at least one of them crashing out, so it was probably just as well that he ran out of time and had to settle for 4th.
Martin O'Connell (Rowan Racing), meanwhile, had his own train behind him and wasn't making any friends but he was certainly showing better than he has in most races this year. This wouldn't do much to cheer up Gianmaria Bruni (Fortec Motorsport) or Matt Davies (Promatecme UK), but neither of them could quite find a way by so they had to stay behind him till then end. And just behind them was the Scholarship Class winner. This had the usual feeling of inevitability about it as Gary Paffett (Fred Goddard Racing) simply strolled home in 10th overall, after beating off Championship Class driver Westley Barber (Alan Docking Racing) at the start.
"It was a good race. I got a good start off the line, got past Westley off the line which was a relief for me... after last weekend" (Silverstone) "I definitely don't trust him! I made a good start, kept out of trouble for the first corner. Westley got a bit close a couple of times but he wasn't close enough to make a move at all. We were quite comfortable in the race just sitting close behind Matt but you get too close and you just lose downforce. I didn't want to push it too hard and go off. The car was a lot better because we changed the car quite a bit for the race, had a bit of a gamble, but it paid off and we went two tenths quicker than we did in qualifying."
Westley might, of course, have been more of a problem had he not had to spend the closing laps of the race looking in his mirrors and wondering if he was about to lose the final point for 10th in class to Nicholas Kiesa (RC Motorsport). After a problem at the start the Dane had recovered but it was too much to hope that he would get into the top 10 from there. And behind him Warren Carway was busy making another friend. As Tor Sriachavanon (Alan Docking Racing) went to pass the Irishman, the Rowan driver drove into the Thai, forcing him onto the grass. To be fair, he did go and apologize later, but what on earth has happened to Warren in the last two races? Whatever it is, it's definitely a case of "no more Mr. Nice Guy." If he keeps on like this he'll have no friends left by Spa!
Just to really rub in the message about Paffett, the only man apart from him to lead a lap in the Scholarship Class, Atsushi Katsumata (Team Meritus), became the 3rd and final occupant of the Paddock Hill car park, thus drop kicking himself out of the chance of taking 2nd place in the series from his team mate Marcel Romanio. This was a pity as he had only just demoted Craig Fleming to 3rd in class as they swept into Clearways. So Fleming inherited 2nd place, from Ryan Walker (Diamond Racing), Mark Mayall (Diamond Racing) and Christian Colombo (Rowan Racing).
The final non-finisher was Andrew Kirkaldy (Avanti) after a less than happy afternoon.