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British F3 Report

Entry List - 1999 British Formula Three Championship Class A No. 1, Luciano Burti, Brazil, Stewart Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 2, Andrew Kirkaldy, GB, Stewart Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 3, Matt Davies, GB, Fortec Motorsport, ...

Entry List - 1999 British Formula Three Championship Class A No. 1, Luciano Burti, Brazil, Stewart Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 2, Andrew Kirkaldy, GB, Stewart Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 3, Matt Davies, GB, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 4, Kristian Kolby - Denmark, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 5, Aluizio Coelho, Brazil, Promatecme Renault UK, Dallara F399 Renault No. 6, Jenson Button, GB, Promatecme Renault UK, Dallara F399 Renault No. 7, Yudai Igarashi, Japan, Alan Docking Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 8, Alex Yoong, Malaysia, Alan Docking Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 9, Toby Scheckter, South Africa, SpeedSport F3 Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 10, Warren Carway, Ireland, SpeedSport F3 Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 11, Warren Hughes, GB, Ralt Engineering, Ralt Mugen-Honda No. 12, Narain Karthikeyan, India, Carlin Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 14, Michael Bentwood, GB, Carlin Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 15, Tim Spouge, GB, S. S. Sport, Dallara F399 Spiess-Opel No. 16, Doug Bell, GB, S. S. Sport, Dallara F399 Spiess-Opel No. 17, Marc Hynes, GB, Manor Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda No. 18, Tor Sriachavanon, Thailand, Manor Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda

Class B No. 51 Martin O'Connell, GB, Rowan Racing, Dallara F398 TOM'S-Toyota No. 52 TBA, GB, Rowan Racing, Dallara F398 TOM'S-Toyota No. 54 John Bender, USA, Carlin Motorsport, Dallara F398 Mugen-Honda No. 75 Jeremy Smith, GB, Jeremy Smith Racing, Dallara F398 Spiess-Opel No. 77 John Ingram, GB, SpeedSport F3 Racing, Dallara F398 Mitsubishi

Round 1 - Donington Park, March 21st. Weather very changeable. Missing from Class A for Round 1 were Warren Hughes (the Ralt is still being tested and has some gearbox problems that need to be sorted out before it will be ready to race) and Alex Yoong (still getting his budget together). Missing from Class B were John Bender and John Ingram and an as yet to be announced second driver for Rowan Racing.

First Qualifying First practice started with the track still sodden and a lot of new drivers feeling somewhere between serious over-excitement and deep apprehension at the though of going out to play in the puddles. Quietly confident was Jenson Button, lining up for his first race with Promatecme. However, there were a lot of experienced drivers out there and one that can always be relied on should it be wet is Narain Karthikeyan. Less than two months after a nasty road accident at home in India, the youngster was completely unbeatable in the morning session, slamming in the only time in the 1.38s. Returnee Marc Hynes, making his debut in the brand new Manor Motorsport team showed that his form in testing was no fluke by being right up there at the front too. He tried to claim it was down to the odd wispy little beard he is now sporting, because "it makes me go faster!" To avoid being laughed at perhaps? Still, after last year's plague of bleached blonds, facial hair seems almost normal.

Of the Stewart Racing (as PSR is now known) drivers, the only one having a good morning was Luciano Burti. His team-mate was struggling with the transition from Formula Opel and was languishing in 15th, while Lu looked relaxed even though he was only 3rd. Burti knows he is expected to come out as champion this year by many people and he also knows that consistency counts for a lot in this formula. I suspect there won't be too many heroics from the quiet Brazilian this year. Promatecme's drivers should both have been further forward but the decision to bring them in and change tyres proved to be a mistake. While Button and Aluizio Coelho were in the pits, the weather changed for the worst and so the effort was wasted. Button was 4th, but could have expected more, as could Coelho, back down in 10th. No one should have been particularly surprised to find Martin O'Connell in 5th, even though he is back in class B again. The Rowan Racing cars always seem to go well on what is really their home circuit and in testing last year's Dallara has certainly proved to be very close to the 1999 model in terms of performance.

What did come as a surprise was the fact that Kristian Kolby couldn't manage better than 6th. With his health problems behind him (he had a hernia for most of the second half of last year) and again driving for Fortec, the Dane should be right up there with the leaders, but seemed strangely lacklustre on the day. Also surprising was the performance of Tim Spouge, taking a provisional 7th place on the grid. With a team that struggled last year to figure out what they were doing, and a driver in a similar state, you have to wonder at what they have managed to achieve over the winter. It was obviously no flash in the pan either, although at this stage newcomer and team-mate Doug Bell was only 12th. Matt Davies too was suffering from whatever was troubling Fortec. This young man has returned to the UK from France and great things are expected. Of course he has the extra problem of needing to learn the circuits as well as the Formula but even so he must have been disappointed to be only 8th. Next up was Toby Scheckter, a youngster with a very hard act to follow. It's bad enough being the son of an ex-World Champion who has apparently threatened to pull the plug on Toby's career and send him off the play golf if he's not good enough. The whole thing is made worse by driving for the team that showed such strength last year whenever Darren Manning (now racing in Japan) got into the car.

Scheckter's predecessor at SpeedSport, Michael Bentwood, was 11th, while you had too look as far back as 13th for Hyne's team-mate Tor Sriachavan on, the Thai not putting in a particularly impressive performance. Even less impressive was Yudai Igarashi, now in his third year in the formula. Still, this might have something to do with the fact that the car was only delivered on the Monday afternoon before the race and had only been driven once in testing prior to the Sunday. In 16th was Warren Carway who is driving pretty much as he has done for the last two seasons as well, although It's fair to say he does at least look as if he may have finally decided to get some serious fitness training in. And bringing up the rear was Jeremy Smith, fresh from Formula Ford and running his own Class B team.

1st - No 12 - Narain Karthikeyan, Carlin, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.38.828, 91.06 mph 2nd - No 17 - Marc Hynes, Manor, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.39.095 3rd - No 1 - Luciano Burti, Stewart, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.39.314 4th - No 6 - Jenson Button, Promatecme, F399 Renault, 1.39.640 5th - No 51 - Martin O'Connell, Rowan Racing, F398 TOM'S-Toyota, 1.39.759 6th - No 4 - Kristian Kolby, Fortec, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.39.932 7th - No 15 - Tim Spouge, S. S. Sport, F399 Spiess-Opel, 1.40.186 8th - No 3 - Matt Davies, Fortec, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.40.218 9th - No 9 - Toby Scheckter, SpeedSport, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.40.306 10th - No 5 - Aluizio Coelho, Promatecme, F399 Renault, 1.40.389 11th - No 14 - Michael Bentwood, Carlin, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.40.841 12th - No 16 - Doug Bell, S. S. Sport, F399 Spiess-Opel, 1.40.859 13th - No 18 - Tor Sriachavanon, Manor, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.41.523 14th - No 7 - Yudai Igarashi, ADR, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.42.381 15th - No 2 - Andrew Kirkaldy, Stewart, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.45.002 16th - No 10 - Warren Carway, SpeedSport, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.45.294 17th- No 75 - Jeremy Smith, JSR, F398 Spiess-Opel, 1.45.549

Second Qualifying The weather improved a little for the final session with the result that all but one of the drivers were able to improve. The most dramatic improvement came from Button. The team decided to leave him out on the same tyres for the entire session and the move paid off. He slotted in a series of rapid times to take pole away from Karthikeyan, who was further pushed down the order by Marc Hynes. Even so Button was still reticent about his chances. "We're not there yet," was all he would say. Burti dropped a place too, partly as a result of Button's efforts and partly because he spent half the session sitting in a gravel trap, this a popular Brazilian occupation on Sunday, and would start 4th on the grid. Scheckter was a delighted 5th, to the detriment of both Martin O'Connell (who managed to blow an engine) and Kris Kolby (who seemed to think he had lost the plot). Michael Bentwood improved substantially to take 8th place, with Matt Davies just behind. Doug Bell just got the better of team-mate Tim Spouge for 10th place, while the second Promatecme car of Aluizio Coelho would start from 12th, he too having succumbed to the Brazilian fondness for beaches by going off half-way through the session and ending up stuck in the kitty litter. "I only went off, I didn't spin off," he said, before going to apologise to his mechanics. It meant he was the only driver not to improve on his first session time. Still, he was at least in familiar company, just behind Bell and next to Sriachavanon, his team-mates at Manor Motorsport in Formula Renault last year. Igarashi was still struggling almost three seconds off the pace, and Andrew Kirkaldy too had been in the gravel when he should have been on the track (he doesn't look Brazilian but who knows!) and was 15th, with a time he won't even want to think about. Last of the Class A drivers was Warren Carway and Jeremy Smith brought up the rear.

1st - No. 6 - Jenson Button, Promatecme, F399 Renault, 1.38.076, 91.76 mph 2nd - No. 17 - Marc Hynes, Manor, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.38.246 3rd - No 12 - Narain Karthikeyan, Carlin, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.38.478 4th- No. 1 - Luciano Burti, Stewart, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.38.783 5th - No. 9 - Toby Scheckter, SpeedSport, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.38.887 6th - No. 51 - Martin O'Connell, Rowan Racing, F398 TOM'S-Toyota, 1.38.895 7th - No. 4 - Kristian Kolby, Fortec, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.39.097 8th - No. 14 - Michael Bentwood, Carlin, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.39.397 9th- No. 3 - Matt Davies, Fortec, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.39.570 10th- No. 16 - Doug Bell, S. S. Sport, F399 Spiess-Opel, 1.39.649 11th - No. 15 - Tim Spouge, S. S. Sport, F399 Spiess-Opel, 1.39.854 12th - No. 5 - Aluizio Coelho, Promatecme, F399 Renault, 1.40.389 13th - No. 18 - Tor Sriachavanon, Manor, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.40.532 14th- No. 7 - Yudai Igarashi, ADR, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.40.953 15th - No. 2 - Andrew Kirkaldy, Stewart, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1.41.747 16th - No. 10 - Warren Carway, SpeedSport, F399 Mugen-Honda, 1. 41.996 17th- No. 75 - Jeremy Smith, JSR, F398 Spiess-Opel, 1.43.173

Race A lot of people at Redgate (the first corner) were holding their breath, expecting there would be trouble. But there wasn't. No one even stalled (the curse of many an F3 rookie). Button did bog down slightly, although it was hardly a bad start. It was enough to allow Hynes to power through into the lead though, and from there he was never to be challenged throughout the 20 laps. From John Booth's point of view this was just as well since his second driver, Sriachavanon didn't get beyond the next corner. He and Davies tried to occupy the same piece of tarmac with predictable results. For both of them their F3 debuts ended there. Even so there was far less carnage than might have been expected. In terms of excitement this was provided by O'Connell getting a storming start from row three to challenge Button for second (and to briefly take it off him) before settling in to 3rd place. He was just ahead of Burti who kept trying to pressure the local man into a mistake, through he wasn't about to throw away a points just to pass a Class B runner. Meanwhile, Coelho too was providing thrills, also starting well to put himself into 9th before the race was a lap old. He then set about passing Bentwood for 8th which became 7th after Kolby and Scheckter had a brief difference of opinion on track. Soon Coelho was behind Bell, scrapping hard for 6th but having to keep a sharp eye on Kolby in his mirrors too. Al finally got the drop on Doug and Kolby followed him through. For Coelho it all went pear-shaped shortly after, the Brazilian getting his wheels in a puddle at Coppice and skating straight off. "I missed the wall by inches. I really don't know how," he said. "And when I braked for the next corner, so much gravel flew out that I couldn't see where I was!" He was back to 8th, behind Bentwood and would finish there.

At the front, Button was driving an unbelievably mature race for a teenager, knowing that he would score points and probably very aware that the last Promatecme driver who could have won the championship threw it away with a series of rash moves. It wasn't going to happen to him. Hynes, meanwhile, was untroubled by anything, cruising happily round at the front and Burti finally came through to third on the road after O'Connell, who has made a habit of embarrassing Stewart Racing over the years, blew a second engine with only two laps to go. In a doubly cruel blow this handed the Class B win to Smith who was a long way back. Kolby, meanwhile, had managed to shake Bell off but could do nothing to catch Karthikeyan and would have to open his campaign with a fifth place. Andrew Kirkaldy went someway towards redeeming his day by finishing in the points in 9th place and the last scorer was Spouge. Igarashi was 11th, a fact that didn't seem to trouble Paul Anthony at ADR too much. "We got it back in one piece, that's the main thing this time out."

Absolutely delighted was John Booth. Having seen his team win its first race in the category, he was speechless. Having come to the formula and been made welcome until the other teams realised just what a threat Manor were ("No one's speaking to us anymore,") he wasn't about to give any secrets away. "I'm keeping my mouth shut!" was all he would say. Hynes too was delighted with his first win, through he was under no illusion that it would be plain sailing. When asked if he had been aware of Button at any point his answer was "all the time!" And Button in particular isn't likely to let him get away and although the youngster was pleased with second, particularly as he felt he had messed up the start by getting too much wheelspin. "I don't intend to spend all year in second," he said. Burti too will be out for revenge, and seemed incredibly relaxed at the post-race conference. "There are a lot of races left," he said. He was sure there was more to come, especially as the team had been forced to guess at the correct set-up after his trip into the gravel.

Result 1st - No. 17 - Marc Hynes - 29:58.171 100.1 mph 2nd - No 6 - Jenson Button - Gap 3.878 3rd - No 1 - Luciano Burti - Gap 5.885 4th - No 12 - Narain Karthikeyan - Gap 9.395 5th - No 4 - Kristian Kolby - Gap 11.660 6th - No 16 - Doug Bell - Gap 17.163 7th - No 14 - Michael Bentwood - Gap 18.658 8th - No 5 - Aluizio Coelho - Gap 19.271 9th - No 2 - Andrew Kirkaldy - Gap 22.697 10th - No 15 - Tim Spouge - Gap 43.671 11th - No 7 - Yudai Igarashi - Gap 45.573 12th - No 10 - Warren Carway - Gap 55.409 13th - No 75 - Jeremy Smith - 31:07.607, 96.38 mph (Class B winner) Not Classified No 51 - Martin O'Connell- Engine failure - Lap 18 No 9 - Toby Scheckter - Retired - Lap 3 No. 3 - Matt Davies - Accident with Tor Sriachavanon - Lap 1 No. 18 - Tor Sriachavanon - Accident with Matt Davies - Lap 1

Fastest laps Class A - No. 17, Marc Hynes, 1.28.993, 162.75 kph, 101.13 mph (Lap 16) Class B - No. 51, Martin O'Connell, 1.29.220, 162.34 kph, 100.87 mph (Lap 11)

7 spun and continued

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