Autosport British F3 Championship 1998 Round 8, Croft, May 24th by Stella Maria Thomas

Changes: Narain Karthikeyan still a non-starter.

Miku Santavirta also a non-starter. When asked if this was a permanent disappearance or not, a team spokesman said, "It is if doesn't come back." Seemingly the Finn is trying to raise more money but whether he will suceed or not remains in doubt at present.

John Ingram was a non-starter too.

Darren Manning takes over from Michael Bentwood at Speedsport.

Michael Bentwood moves to Intersport though he will reportedly return to Speedsport by the British GP support meeting.

Practice: The weather was unexpectedly hot and sunny at the North Yorkshire track for the latest round of the British F3 Championship. Perhaps it was the improved conditions that threw up a number of surprises. Perhaps it is merely that as teams and drivers settle down together so their results improve. Even so, at the end of first practice no one would have expected to see Alex Yoong up in third place. It is true that the Malaysian youngster has been impoving throughout the season and he must have been delighted with the place even though he would still have to defend it in the second session if he wanted to keep the slot. It is also likely that he was assisted by the fact that with the defection of MDR to the Mugen Honda power unit, the Portman team may be receiving better service as customers of Renault than they have done to date.

PSR were strong as ever, Burti and Haberfeld taking over the provisional front row, while Bernoldi was unhappy back in 4th. He couldn't have known it, but his weekend was about to get much worse. Warren Hughes was 5th at this stage and it looked like Martin O'Connell was going to have a repeat of Silverstone as he finished the first session in 6th. Kristian Kolby was 7th, followed by David Cook who seemed at home on the northern track. 11th place was the best that Ben Collins was able to do, which was unusual as the Bristol law graduate usually goes much better than this in practice. It is hard to know what has gone wrong here but it seems to have a lot to do with the Opel Spiess engines. It has always been difficult in British F3 to get good service from the Opel concern. They seem far more interested in German F3, and it is a long time since these engines did well in Britain, with the exception of the Vauxhall-badged unit that Edenbridge used to take Oliver Gavin to the title a while back. At this stage of the weekend it also looked as if Darren Manning might have made a mistake as his best time was only enough to get him onto the 16th slot.

The second qualifying session was late in the day and rather cooler. These conditions suit F3 car much better and the session as a whole was considerably faster as a result. The PSR battle finally resolved itself in favour of Mario Haberfeld, who snatched pole from team-mate Luciano Burti with a time of 1.13:88, a time well inside the existing lap record. Championship leader Enrique Bernoldi failed to capitalise on the advantageous conditions when he passed Ben Collins under waved yellows. The stewards of the meeting made their disapproval of this felt by disallowing all his second session times and so he would start from an unaccustomed 14th place. And Fate still hadn't finished with him. His nearest rival, Martin O'Connell was not in the least bit unhappy to see the Brazilian way back on the grid, especially when he slotted in a fast time and took 3rd slot. Hughes was 4th, Manning had improved from his earlier place to 5th and David Cook rounded out the top 6.

Qualifying: 1st No. 2 Mario Haberfeld, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 2nd No. 1 Luciano Burti, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 3rd No. 16 Martin O'Connell, Dallara F398 TOMS Toyota 4th No. 21 Warren Hughes, Dallara F398 Renault 5th No. ? Darren Manning, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 6th No. 18 David Cook, Dallara F398 Opel Spiess 7th No. 6 Marc Hynes, Dallara F398 Renault 8th No. 14 Jamie Spence, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 9th No. 4 Kristian Kolby, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 10th No. 22 Alexander Yoong, Dallara F398 Renault 11th No. 27 Ben Collins, Dallara F398 Opel Spiess 12th No. 19 Paula Cook, Dallara F398 Opel Spiess 13th No. 7 Ricardo Mauricio, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 14th No. 8 Yudai Igarashi, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 15th No. 5 Enrique Bernoldi, Dallara F398 Renault

Unsure of the following drivers' positions, except to say that Philip Scifleet was National Class pole man again:

Michael Bentwood, Dallara F398 Opel Spiess Adam Wilcox, TOM'S 037F TOM'S Toyota Andrej Pavicevic, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda Tim Spouge, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda Phillip Scifleet, Dallara F396 TOM'S Toyota (National Pole) Warren Carway, Dallara F396 TOM'S Toyota

Race: Details will follow next week

Results: 1st Mario Haberfeld, F398 Mugen Honda 2nd Martin O'Connell, F398 TOM'S Toyota 3rd Luciano Burti, F398 Mugen Honda 4th Warren Hughes, F398 Renault 5th Darren Manning, F398 Mugen Honda 6th Ben Collins, F398 Opel Spiess 7th Marc Hynes, F398 Renault 8th David Cook, F398 Opel Spiess 9th Ricardo Mauricio, F398 Mugen Honda 10th Paula Cook, F398 Mugen Honda 11th Yudai Igarashi, F398 Mugen Honda 12th Tim Spouge, F398 Mugen Honda 13th Adam Wilcox, F398 Mugen Honda 14th Michael Bentwood, F398 Opel Spiess 15th Andrej Pavicevic, F398 Mugen Honda 16th Phillip Scifleet, F396 TOMS Toyota (National Class winner) 17th Warren Carway, F396 TOMS Toyota

DNF: Jamie Spence, F398 Renault Enrique Bernoldi, F398 Renault Kristian Kolby, F398 Mugen Honda Alexander Yoong, F398 Renault

Fastest Laps: Haberfeld Carway

Points after 8 rounds: International Class 1st Bernoldi, 119 points 2nd O'Connell, 95 points 3rd Haberfeld, 87 points 4th Burti, 81 points 5th Hughes, 65 points 6th Spence, 36 points 7th Hynes, 33 points 8th Mauricio, 32 points 9th Kolby, 28 points 10th Collins, 23 points 11th Yoong, 17 points 12th D Cook, 10 points 13th Darren Manning, 8 points 14th P Cook, 7 points 15th Igarashi/Pavicevic, 5 points 17th Karthikeyan, 4 points 18th Santavirta, 1 point

National Class 1st Scifleet, 159 points 2nd Carway, 87 points 3rd White, 12 points