Autosport British F3 Championship 1998 Round 13, Donington, August 30th by Stella Thomas/MNI
At the start a clearly very determined Enrique Bernoldi got it off the line in extra efficient fashion and it soon became obvious to Mario Haberfeld, who had made what was by his standards a poor start, that the best thing to do was let him through. What he hadn't expected was that Ricardo Mauricio would follow through as well, when he missed a gear going into the Old Hairpin. Mario was left to sit in third place and try and pressure his young countryman into a mistake. Meanwhile, Warren Hughes made a lightning quick start to pull through to 6th. And then it all went pear-shaped. In the first lap confusion Narain Karthikeyan went off round the far side of the circuit and in a separate incident Mark Boost lost it as well.
The safety car was brought out though it took a while to link up with the field. By the time it did, the incident was over and it came back into the pits again, though not before Yudai Igarashi nearly overtook Martin O'Connell under waved yellows and had to back off hard.
And so on Lap 4 they started racing again, Mauricio making a determined attempt to get past Bernoldi and only just missing out. The Brazilian train then settled down, with Haberfeld making a number of semi-attempts to get second place back but quite clearly not prepared to take the risk it would require. "I wanted to score points. If I had gone off, Enrique would be leading the championship again now," he said afterwards. With Mario unable to pass Mauricio, Luciano Burti was stuck behind him, with Hughes, Kristian Kolby and Marc Hynes right behind, Hughes in particular making determined efforts to move up the order. It wasn't to be though and he would have to settle for being top non-Brazilian at the end of the afternoon.
Meanwhile, Jamie Spence and Ben Collins were fighting for the last available point. This eventually went to Collins after a brave move by Spence at Redgate ended with the MDR driver sitting in the gravel on the outside of the corner, absolutely furious. And with 3 laps to go, Yudai Igarashi made the last of only four retirements, pulling out of 12th place, from where he had been harassing Martin O'Connell for most of the race.
At the race close, the Brazilians still had the top 4 places, an unprecedented result, though there is nothing to suggest that this will be the last time this happens.
Haberfeld still leads the championship, though by a mere 5 points. He was disappointed to have been unable to capitalise on his pole position, but he had gear change problems, finding it difficult to engage 5th gear, and he knew he was slower out of the corners than Ricardo. All told, he wasn't too unhappy.
Mauricio, on the other hand, was delighted with his best ever F3 finish. He would have liked to win but he knew he had driven well. He also knew that he couldn't quite match Enrique's pace that afternoon.
Bernoldi was also feeling pretty pleased with himself, as well he might. After a series of disastrous races he was now back on track, and felt that the car was now much better than it had been. Ricardo had given him a nasty moment at the restart when he suddenly pulled alongside, but after that it was relatively easy.
1st No. 5 Enrique Bernoldi, Promatecme, F398 Renault, Time: 22:47.041, 107.86 mph/173.58 kph 2nd No. 7 Ricardo Mauricio, Alan Docking Racing, F398 Mugen Honda, Gap: 2.831 3rd No. 2 Mario Haberfeld, Paul Stewart Racing, F398 Mugen Honda, Gap: 3.239 4th No. 1 Luciano Burti, Paul Stewart Racing, F398 Mugen Honda, Gap: 3.651 5th No. 21 Warren Hughes, Portman Arrows Racing, F398 Renault, Gap: 4.296 6th No. 4 Kristian Kolby, Fortec Motorsport, F398 Mugen Honda, Gap: 4.753 7th No. 6 Marc Hynes, Promatecme, F398 Renault, Gap: 5.481 8th No. 3 Andrej Pavicevic, Fortec Motorsport, F398 Mugen Honda, Gap: 14.038 9th No. 9 Michael Bentwood, Speedsport, F398 Mugen Honda, Gap: 15.063 10th No. 27 Ben Collins, Intersport, F398 Spiess Opel, Gap: 17.113 11th No. 16 Martin O'Connell, TOM'S GB, F398 TOM'S Toyota, Gap: 17.893 12th No. 20 Tim Spouge, S. S. Sport, F398 Mugen Honda, Gap: 21.701 13th No. 22 Paula Cook, Portman Arrows Racing, F398 Spiess Opel, Gap: 22.082 14th No. 17 Warren Carway, Rowan Racing, F398 TOM'S Toyota, Gap: 32.810 15th No. 42 Adam Wilcox, Intersport, F398 Spiess Opel, Gap: 33.004 16th No. 77 Mike Kirkham, F396 HKS Mitsubishi, Time: 23:36.301 (National Class Winner), 104.65 mph/168.43 kph 17th No. 53 Steve Hayr, Tarry Falcon Racing, F396 Mugen Honda, Gap: 1 lap
DNF: No. 8 Yudai Igarashi, Alan Docking Racing, F398 Mugen Honda, Lap 17 No. 14 Jamie Spence, Martin Donnelly Racing, F398 Mugen Honda, Lap 13 No. 12 Narain Karthikeyan, Carlin Motorsport, F398 Mugen Honda, Lap 1 No. 10 Mark Boost, GB, Speedsport, F398 Mugen Honda, Lap 1
Fastest Laps: Kristian Kolby, F398 Mugen Honda, Time: 1:05.226, 108.02 mph/173.85 kph, Lap 10 Mike Kirkham, F396 HKS Mitsubishi, Time: 1:07.326, 104.65 mph/168.43 kph, Lap 6
Points after 12 rounds: International Class 1st Haberfeld, 158 points 2nd Bernoldi, 153 points 3rd Burti, 119 points 4th Hughes, 115 points 5th O'Connell, 99 points 6th Mauricio, 68 points 7th Spence, 54 points 8th Hynes, 51 points 9th Manning, 49 points 10th Kolby, 48 points 11th Collins, 36 points 12th Yoong, 27 points 13th Karthikeyan, 20 points 14th Wilcox, 14 points 15th Pavicevic, 11 points 16th D Cook, 10 points 17th Igarashi, 8 points 18th P Cook, 7 points 19th Spouge, 6 points 20th Michael Bentwood, 2 points 21st Santavirta, 1 point
National Class 1st Scifleet, 237 points 2nd Carway, 97 points 3rd Hayr, 69 points 4th Ingram, 35 points 5th Mike Kirkham, 21 points 6th White, 12 points