Ernesto Viso (Cambridge/Caracas, Venezuela) sensationally took the Scholarship Class Championship lead this weekend with two superb drives to claim a second place and victory in today's twin Formula 3 race encounters.
Double pole position, testament to his devastating pace around the 1.95- mile Donington Park Circuit, translated into a hard-fought second place in the first race, after contact with eventual race winner Steven Kane. No such dramas in the second of the weekend's battles, saw Ernesto drive off into the distance to claim his eighth race victory of the season - and with it the championship lead.
"The first race was really aggravating, for we had the pace to win, but that's racing and I proved my point in the second race. We deserved this win today for the whole team has been working really hard. It's like the movie 'Catch Me If You Can'! There's still work to do at Brands Hatch for the points situation is very close. But I'm confident we can achieve our aim and that's to ensure that P1 Motorsport and myself leave Brands Hatch in three weeks time as reigning Scholarship Class Champions."
Round Twenty-One - POLE
Round Twenty Two - POLE
Continuing where he left off last weekend at Spa, Ernesto was in dominant form for both qualifying sessions, crucially setting pole position for the penultimate pair of championship encounters.
From testing on Friday, Ernesto looked the class of the Scholarship field and in first qualifying he set the pace from the off. As the session progressed, so his rivals desperately attempted to depose the young South American from the top of the time sheets. But to no avail. Having set several laps good enough for pole, Ernesto ended the session as he had begun - authoritatively on pole position. And, crucially, with five Championship Class cars between himself and second placed Steven Kane.
With rain between the sessions, the F3 field took to a dampened track for the second of the day's sessions. Initially second quickest, Ernesto was all too aware that the circuit was drying by the lap - and that pole would be set late on. The young gun consequently concentrated on setting his car up for a late charge and finding the all-important clear lap to make it all count. And in copybook style, he deposed provisional pole-sitter Kane in the final few laps of the session to take a highly impressive second pole position of the day.
Round Twenty-One - 2nd
A wet but drying track for the first of the weekend's two races made tyre choice a real lottery. Although four of the Championship Class cars made the brave decision to go out on slicks, the main contenders for Scholarship honours, Kane, Ernesto and Karun Chandhok, all opted for wet weather tyres.
Ernesto made a good start from pole and quickly set out the Championship Class runners ahead of him. A superb opening couple of laps saw Ernesto make up several places, but second placed Kane was also making good ground and it wasn't long before the two were running line astern.
A fair move by Kane into the chicane at the end of lap three enabled the T- Sport driver to take the lead, but Ernesto was right with him going into lap four and, under pressure, Kane ran wide out of the next corner, Redgate. Seizing the opportunity to re-establish the lead, Ernesto dived inside Kane going into the Craner Curves but Kane violently chopped across the front of his car, breaking his front wing. Incensed, but with no chance for a comeback, Ernesto could only watch as Kane disappeared into the distance, his own straight-line speed and handling severely curtailed by the contact.
A tremendous defensive drive over the remaining 18 laps saw Ernesto fend off a late challenge by Justin Sherwood to maintain second place at the flag.
Round Twenty Two - WON
A tremendous start from pole ensured that Ernesto made his winning intentions clear from the off. Having overtaken several Championship Class cars over the opening few laps, Ernesto was on a charge and determined to put as much distance as possible between himself and the charging Scholarship Class pack. At half distance, he was incredibly up to 10th place overall and just a lap later he overtook yet another Championship Class contender to claim 9th position. With points so crucial at this stage in the series, P1 Motorsport boss Roly Vincini came on the pits to car radio to instruct Ernesto to push for fastest lap - and the valuable additional point that came with it. No sooner said than done, and Ernesto had fastest lap in the bag - and an almost certain race victory. Displaying a pace that took him well clear of his rivals, the young South American star didn't put a wheel wrong to the flag and so took his eighth race victory of the year. A dominant drive which sees Ernesto leap to the head of the championship standings with just two rounds remaining.
The final two rounds of the 2003 British Formula 3 Championship gripped by AVON tyres take place at Brands Hatch GP Circuit, on 27th & 28th September.