1999 Autosport British Formula Three Championship - Round 11 Pembrey, August 14th/15th. Race Report by Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite
As ever, there have been one or two changes in the field. Martin O'Connell is back in at Rowan Racing and John Bender is back in the National Class Car at Carlin and will be occupying this seat for the rest of the year. Otherwise all is normal.
Qualifying: After a promising testing session for Promatecme (in which Jenson Button was fastest and Aluizio Coelho was a very useful fourth fastest) that promise was somewhat dampened come race weekend, at least for the first race of the double-header. This came about after a somewhat up-and-down practice session in which Kristian Kolby (Fortec) took his second pole of the year, edging out Button in the closing seconds. You could be forgiven for thinking that things were not going normally on this, the annual visit of the series to Wales. They were a long way from normal. This is a circuit that is used frequently by almost all of the teams, as they test here more than almost anywhere else. That being the case, what on earth were Stewart Racing and Luciano Burti doing struggling back in 4th? Even more serious, why was Marc Hynes (Manor), Burti's main rival, unable to progress beyond the third row of the grid? They weren't the only people to struggle, but it seems odd that those who usually have power to spare were having difficulties translating that power to the road, while those whose cars tend to lose out in the raw power stakes, were much better off. No one seemed to know what the cause of the problem was but there was dark talk about an odd batch of Avons, and there was a great deal of head-scratching going on in most of the awnings. Kolby was quite clearly not scratching his head for almost the first time this year. A long session studying his datalogging information and a "long talk about where he wanted to go with the car" had obviously paid off. And he wasn't the only one. Immediately behind him was his team mate Matt Davies, so it was beginning to look as if Fortec had finally got the hang of things this year. Given how long the team have been around, it really is about time, but it looks as if Kris has been going in the wrong direction for quite some time now, and Matt is at a disadvantage after two years in France in that he really doesn't know the circuits that well. Burti, back in 4th, was utterly baffled. "There's something wrong with the car and we don't know what it is at the moment. The car is like to be driving on ice at the moment... We've always been quite quick here but this time nothing works. We did everything: we went stiffer, softer, higher, lower. We did everything except turn the car upside down!" Still he couldn't get it set to his liking, despite everything. Fifth, and equally baffled, was Narain Karthikeyan (Carlin Motorsport). The team had never been so slow at Pembrey and they test here all the time. "It was just like driving on ice," remarked the confused young Indian, echoing Burti's claim. Interestingly, Andrew Kirkaldy (Stewart Racing) was closer to his team mate Burti than he has been for most of the year, though he too was having difficulties finding a set-up that worked at all around the Welsh track. He had a fairly major off during the session, but it was nothing in comparison to some of the things that have happened to him this year! One back from him though was Marc Hynes, who was not fit to be spoken to at this point, though he would later describe the situation as a "minor disaster". Of course, at that stage he didn't know what was going to happen to Burti in the second race. Given the euphoria of the previous weekend, it was easy to see why Hynes was so annoyed but there was nothing he could do about it. Andrew Kirkaldy (Stewart) was having what passes for a normal weekend in F3 for him, which meant he was 6th, just ahead of the deeply frustrated Hynes. Then came Tim Spouge (S S Sport), Aluizio Coelho (Promatecme) and the top 10 was completed by Michael Bentwood (Carlin Motorsport). A lot further back than he might have expected was Martin O'Connell (Rowan Racing). The National Class pole sitter was suffering from mysterious handling problems along with everyone else, and like Burti, he too had tried everything he could think of to improve the Dallara's performance. Tim Spouge (S S Sport) was another not having the easiest of weekends, but at least he seemed able to get the car set up to come close to working properly. Someone unable to do anything like as well as he did in testing was Aluizio Coelho (Promatecme). It looks like he might have been too close to Button's pace or something. Whatever the reasons, with the closing and fastest minutes of the session still to go, someone took the decision to call him in and while everyone else improved, he was left stranded in the pits, the team unwilling to let him back out. The only question that springs to mind is why? If the team cannot run two fast drivers to the best of those drivers' abilities, why bother to take two of them on? Surely they could have found a paying driver to run alongside Button and present no threat to him if that is what they wanted? Or are Marlboro pulling the strings as they have been known to do in the past... Meanwhile, possibly after three Weetabix for breakfast, Michael Bentwood (Carlin Motorsport) was 10th on the grid and getting ready to spring a whole series of surprises during the course of the weekend. Next to him, and joining the ranks of those with no idea of how to solve their handling problems, was Martin O'Connell (Rowan Racing), National Class pole man. And then there was Toby Scheckter (SpeedSport). The youngster made a dreadful mess of his car in testing and was in effect driving a rebuilt car, the handling characteristics of which were a mystery to him. He proved that by going off yet again and never really looked as if he was comfortable during the course of Saturday. Hynes' team-mate Tor Sriachavanon (Manor) was thirteenth though he would play a major part in the first race on Sunday. Former team mate (1998) Doug Bell (Alan Docking Racing) wasn't exactly having a wonderful time, but at least he was ahead of his team mate, Yudai Igarashi. The only consolation for the Japanese driver was that he had at least managed to stay in front of the other Japanese driver, Takuma Sato (Diamond). Given that Sato is in the National Class this was very little to cheer him up. As usual, Warren Carway (SpeedSport) was 17th, this seeming to be his favourite slot on the grid. The personable Irishman ran round about the same position when he was in class B but still seems to be enjoying himself, so who are we to criticise. Last on the grid was John Bender (Carlin).
Qualifying Times (One session only): 1st - No 4 - Kristian Kolby, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 50.586 2nd - No 6 - Jenson Button, Promatecme UK, Dallara F399 Renault, 50.681 3rd - No 3 - Matt Davies, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.017 4th - No 1 - Luciano Burti, Stewart Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.021 5th - No 12 - Narain Karthikeyan, Carlin Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.048 6th - No 2 - Andrew Kirkaldy, Stewart Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.050 7th - No 17 - Marc Hynes, Manor Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.083 8th - No 15 - Tim Spouge, S S Sport, Dallara F399 Spiess-Opel, 51.095 9th - No 5 - Aluizio Coelho, Promatecme UK, Dallara F399 Renault, 51.246 10th - No 14 - Michael Bentwood, Carlin Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.373 11th - No 51 - Martin O'Connell, Rowan Racing, Dallara F398 TOM'S-Toyota, 51.547 (National Class Pole) 12th - No 9 - Toby Scheckter, SpeedSport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.618 13th - No 18 - Tor Sriachavanon, Manor Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.644 14th - No 8 - Doug Bell, Alan Docking Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.659 15th - No 7 - Yudai Igarashi, Alan Docking Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.775 16th - No 77 - Takuma Sato, Diamond Racing, Dallara F398 Mugen-Honda, 51.819 17th - No 10 - Warren Carway, SpeedSport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.924 18th - No 54 - John Bender, Carlin Motorsport, Dallara F398 Mugen-Honda, 52.150
Race: Weather: cloudy, dry. There is often chaos at Pembrey, particularly at the start. The first corner is so tight as to make it necessary to slow pretty much to a halt if you're going to get round it. It's not quite a hairpin, though it might as well be. So trying to get 18 F3 cars through there without any contact is pretty well nigh impossible. This time the guilty party was Matt Davies (Fortec); the Essex man tried to get ahead of the field by going round the outside of all of them into the first corner. It was never going to work, despite his later claim that "I was well clear of them." In his imagination perhaps, on the road definitely not. As it was he came very close to taking his own team-mate, Kristian Kolby out of the race there and then. He also inconvenienced Jenson Button (Promatecme) more than a little, though the youngster recovered faster than Kolby and took off into the lead. Davies on the other hand dropped right back down the order while he tried to sort it all out. At the front, Kolby was unable to live with the pace of the teenager, and Button was streaking away into the distance. Probably not helped by his start. "I did a couple of practice starts on the warm up lap and successfully messed it up for myself by cooking the clutch. When I got to the start, when I had my foot on the clutch, the car was moving all the time so I had to put my foot on the brake. I made what's actually called a very bad start. The car was handling very well in the fast corners, but at the Hairpin I was having to bang it down through the box. If you get it right, its OK but sometimes the wheels will lock... Every time I went for 3rd gear, the wheels would some round." It wasn't over yet though. Suddenly the news came through that Button had been awarded a stop/go penalty for a jump start. Fortec were not slow to let their driver know what was happening and he took the victory that this would hand him without a complaint. "I knew he had a problem straight away. The team told me. I said OK fine, he was pulling away. Then when I saw P1 on the board, it was like Bloody Hell, what have I done to deserve this? On the last lap, I was just trying to keep the smile back off my face. It's a nice feeling when you see your team leaning over the pit wall and cheering for you..." Button meanwhile did his absolute best to try and overcome the disadvantage that the penalty represented. He came back out of the pits in fifth and put in a remarkably fine drive, shooting past Andrew Kirkaldy as if the Scotsman was standing still, even though he was hardly back up to full speed at that point. Kirkaldy, as a result, fell back into the clutches of Matt Davies, who might have got more attention for his recovery drive if he hadn't inflicted it on himself and if Button hadn't been so mightily impressive. He was now 4th and wasn't going to settle for being off the podium. His next victim was Michael Bentwood (Carlin), who was running further up than he ever has in his three years in Formula Three. However, Button simply drove around him and Michael, perhaps sensibly, didn't argue the point, fearing he would go off if he did. And now Jenson had Luciano Burti in his sights. His move on Burti was phenomenal; after reeling Luciano in with a series of furiously fast laps, he wasn't about to settle for 3rd. He feinted at the Brazilian at the Hairpin and then squeezed up the inside at the next corner, Spitfires. Afterwards, Button was the first to admit that he had been helped by Luciano's reluctance to get involved in an accident at this stage of the season: "I just didn't want to go off. He was a second faster a lap, I tried to push but that's it really." This is not to detract in any way from the calibre of Button's drive, it merely shows how he is maturing as a driver; "I was about two lengths behind but on the exit I was able to get the power down earlier and came out on the inside. Obviously he wasn't going to turn in on me because he's racing for the championship at the moment. So, thanks to Burti for not wiping me out or turning in on me. I didn't think I was going to get past Luciano. It shows how well the car is working at present." Luciano would settle for third place, and some much needed points. "That's the only good thing about the whole thing at the moment." Behind him, Bentwood hung on to finish fourth, a career best, while Matt Davies would come in just behind him. Matt had been pushing Andrew Kirkaldy hard from the moment that her was demoted by Button, and finally, on the last lap, pressured him into a spin. It wasn't a great race lap for Stewarts generally. Another driver in trouble was Marc Hynes (Manor). As if qualifying seventh wasn't bad enough, the championship challenger was held up at the start when Narain Karthikeyan (Carlin) stalled right in front of him. He just managed to squeeze between the pit wall then booted Andrew Kirkaldy's Dallara pretty hard up the rear in the first corner melee. Next thing he knew Hynes was assaulted from behind by an unknown assailant, and then found himself stuck behind Martin O'Connell (Rowan Racing), back in 10th place. This was doing his championship hopes no good at all. However, it could so easily have been much worse. Post race examination of the Manor Dallara revealed a bent pushrod and a seriously bent out of shape chassis. It was a small miracle that he actually managed to finish the race. This was the start of a furious recovery drive, which saw Hynes claw his way back to seventh, just behind his team-mate Tor Sriachavanon. It would prove a bitter blow for Tor, because with Burti running in second at that point, Marc needed all the points he could get. The team would have to ask the Thai driver to move over and let his team-mate through. He was philosophical about it. "I didn't know he was there. I don't look in my mirrors often. I was running really in my best ever position, but then I got the phone call," he said. He obediently moved over and let Hynes through. Of course, things were further improved for Hynes when Button demoted Burti to third. The Brazilian would finish with a 9 point lead in the series but there was another race still to run that day. It was still all to play for. Further down the order, there was a very tense scuffle for 10th place. The entire group including Toby Scheckter, Aluizio Coelho and Tim Spouge, was stuck behind Martin O'Connell with no way of getting past him until they picked up Andrew Kirkaldy after his spin. Coelho went for it, trying to find a way past Scheckter. The South African chopped across and forced the Brazilian onto the grass. By he time he recovered he was 13th. Even more unhappy were Warren Carway and Doug Bell. Midway through the race, Bell passed Carway but hadn't quite got clear when he moved back across. They tangled and both spun off into the barriers, Bell's car being heavily damaged in the impact. And even though he had won, Kolby and the Fortec boys were quite oddly subdued, largely because there was still a lot of work to do sorting out a badly battered clutch and gearbox: "I managed to crunch quite a few gears..." the Dane reflected afterwards. National Class winner O'Connell wasn't exactly overjoyed either. "No, I'm more relieved than anything. We've got similar problems to Luciano. We've got no grip. We can change everything and the car just feels the same. We just want to survive the weekend then regroup afterwards. It's really very strange the way things are working here. When you've got Stewart's struggling for settings... there's obviously something peculiar about Pembrey this weekend. We ought to have a go at something to see what happens, but we're not going to turn it upside down!"
Results: 1st - No 4 - Kristian Kolby, Fortec, F399 Mugen-Honda, 17:19.874, 100.81 mph 2nd - No 6 - Jenson Button, Promatecme, F399 Renault, Gap: 7.650 3rd - No 1 - Luciano Burti, Stewart, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 9.209 4th - No 14 - Michael Bentwood, Carlin, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 14.217 5th - No 3 - Matt Davies, Fortec, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 14.961 6th - No 17 - Marc Hynes, Manor, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 16.020 7th - No 18 - Tor Sriachavanon, Manor, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 19.192 8th - No 2 - Andrew Kirkaldy, Stewart, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 21.828 9th - No 51 - Martin O'Connell, Rowan, F398 TOM'S-Toyota, 17:42/827, 98.63 mph (National Class Winner) 10th - No 9 - Toby Scheckter, SpeedSport, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 23.371 11th - No 15 - Tim Spouge, S S Sport, Dallara F399 Spiess-Opel, Gap: 24.231 12th - No 12 - Narain Karthikeyan, Carlin, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 24.621 13th - No 5 - Aluizio Coelho, Promatecme, F399 Renault, Gap 24.879 14th - No. 77 - Takuma Sato, Diamond, F398 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 32.890 15th - No 54 - John Bender, Carlin, Dallara F398 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 33.421
Not Classified: No 8 - Doug Bell, ADR, F399 Mugen-Honda, Lap 6, Accident with Carway No 10 - Warren Carway, SpeedSport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, Lap 6, Accident with Bell
Did Not Start: No 7 - Yudai Igarashi, ADR, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda
Fastest laps: Championship Class - No 6, Jenson Button, 50.971, 165.50 kph, 102.83 mph National Class - No. 51, Martin O'Connell, 52.223, 161.53 kph, 100.37 mph
Standings: Championship Class: 1st - Luciano Burti - 154 points 2nd - Marc Hynes - 145 points 3rd - Jenson Button - 101 points 4th - Kristian Kolby - 99 points 5th - Narain Karthikeyan - 94 points 6th - Matt Davies - 76 points 7th - Andrew Kirkaldy - 49 points 8th - Michael Bentwood - 40 points 9th - Alex Yoong - 37 points 10th - Aluizio Coelho/Tim Spouge - 24 points 12th - Doug Bell - 21 points 13th - Tor Sriachavanon - 12 points 14th - Yudai Igarashi/Toby Scheckter - 11 points 16th - Warren Carway - 5 points
National Class: 1st - Martin O'Connell - 169 points 2nd - Jeremy Smith - 111 points 3rd - John Bender, 76 points 4th - Takuma Sato, 50 points 5th - Gavin Jones, 45 points 6th - Stephen Shanley, 22 points 7th - John Ingram, 8 points
Next Round: Pembrey - August 24th/25th
1999 Autosport British Formula Three Championship - Round 12 - Pembrey, August 24th/25th. Race Report by Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite
Qualifying: This time Button wasn't going to be edged out from pole, putting his performance down to increased experience in the car. Certainly his confidence levels were very high. Even so, Kolby did everything he could to stop the teenager. He was finally forced to settle for second but was still pretty pleased with himself; after all he had only just missed out. Matt Davies was rather more disappointed, after having held the top spot for the major part of the session. Then, however, he spun and put himself out of the running. In fourth was Marc Hynes, who really wasn't enjoying his visit to Wales and didn't like the implications of being so far from pole. "The first corner here you never know if you're going to come out or not..." he remarked. His mood lifted slightly when he realised that Luciano Burti was back in eighth place this time despite repeated changes to the wings and other setting. The oddly revitalised Michael Bentwood qualified 5th, the highest he has ever been on the grid. He was just ahead of Aluizio Coelho in the second Promatecme car, the fastest Brazilian for a change. And even Tim Spouge was faster than Burti even though he had to sit out most of the session after spinning off. In ninth was Narain Karthikeyan, who was finding that the changes the team had made to the car had "just made the car even more undrivable. It's like driving in the wet." Tenth was Andrew Kirkaldy, the Stewart driver probably wishing he had never bothered making the trip to Wales. Also seriously unhappy still was Doug Bell, who was 11th and Martin O'Connell, the National Class pole sitter again having trouble with the car. On being asked if it was any better, he snapped "Does it look better?" Frankly, no it didn't. Remaining very consistent, Tor Sriachavanon was again 13th with Toby Scheckter alongside him. Then, unusually, came Warren Carway, not the last Championship Class runner for once. That dubious distinction went to Yudai Igarashi, who was spared the embarrassment of once again being only just ahead of Takuma Sato. Igarashi, in fact, would take no part in either race on Sunday, having gone off onto the grass and found a very solid rock. Contact with the geological specimen put a huge hole in the Dallara's tub just by the seat-belt mounting points. There was no way it could be fixed at this most primitive of circuits but at least his car could be cannibalised for spares after Doug Bell's off in the first race. And bringing up the rear again was John Bender, struggling more than a little on this occasion.
Qualifying Times (One session only): 1st - No 6 - Jenson Button, Promatecme UK, Dallara F399 Renault, 51.207 2nd - No 4 - Kristian Kolby, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.226 3rd - No 3 - Matt Davies, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.416 4th - No 17 - Marc Hynes, Manor Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.494 5th - No 14 - Michael Bentwood, Carlin Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.531 6th - No 5 - Aluizio Coelho, Promatecme UK, Dallara F399 Renault, 51.576 7th - No 15 - Tim Spouge, S S Sport, Dallara F399 Spiess-Opel, 51.613 8th - No 1 - Luciano Burti, Stewart Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.624 9th - No 12 - Narain Karthikeyan, Carlin Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.646 10th - No 2 - Andrew Kirkaldy, Stewart Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.710 11th - No 8 - Doug Bell, Alan Docking Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 51.840 12th - No 51 - Martin O'Connell, Rowan Racing, Dallara F398 TOM'S-Toyota, 51.870 (National Class Pole) 13th - No 18 - Tor Sriachavanon, Manor Motorsport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 52.116 14th - No 9 - Toby Scheckter, SpeedSport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 52.185 15th - No 10 - Warren Carway, SpeedSport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 52.332 16th - No 7 - Yudai Igarashi, Alan Docking Racing, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, 52.500 17th - No 77 - Takuma Sato, Diamond Racing, Dallara F398 Mugen-Honda, 52.657 18th - No 54 - John Bender, Carlin Motorsport, Dallara F398 Mugen-Honda, 52.913
Race: Weather: cloudy, dry. This time we got a very tidy start and it wasn't until later that it all started to go wrong. Jenson Button got the drop on Kris Kolby without jumping the start this time, though he did take to the grass in dramatic fashion, while Matt Davies also charged through to take second place, Kolby settling in just behind. Marc Hynes cut across Michael Bentwood in a rather forceful manner to take an unshakeable hold on fourth place but otherwise there were no problems for anyone except Takuma Sato. The National Class driver pulled off and into retirement just past the first corner. Zen gardening seems to be popular at Pembrey, as this was pretty much the same spot occupied by Yudai Igarashi last year. However, just when it looked as if there would be no trouble, there was a nasty accident on the pit straight. Aluizio Coelho crashed heavily on lap three, after Spouge and Bentwood clashed just in front of him and he had to take avoiding action. His Promatecme Dallara hit the wall front end on doing comprehensive damage; luckily the Brazilian was able to walk away uninjured. However, the car still had to be recovered and so, while the marshals worked, the Safety Car was scrambled and for several laps it lead the field round. At the end of the Safety Car period Button again got away, and again took to the scenery but got away with it. Narain Karthikeyan, however, did try to start something, going for Luciano Burti after an abortive attack on Spouge by the Brazilian. Maybe he was just trying to redress the balance between Luciano Burti and Marc Hynes, having held Hynes up in the first race. This time he startled Luciano at the restart by barging the Brazilian roughly to one side. "We were only fighting for seventh," said the aggrieved Brazilian afterwards. Once again the incident could have been worse had it not been for Burti's sense of self-preservation. He wasn't about to make a fight of it and lose out altogether if he could help it. Karthikeyan seemed to want the place more than Luciano did with the result that Burti could do nothing and was stuck in eighth for the rest of the race. Afterwards, he was decidedly annoyed about it: "When you are so low down it is stupid..." Of course, Karthikeyan is racing for wins, while Burti is racing for the series, which tends to colour his views rather. At the front, Button was well clear of the battling Fortec duo, while Kolby was harrying Davies mercilessly, despite the fact that they both drive for the same team. As a result, neither of them was ever likely to make any impression on Button who simple coasted home to a well-deserved victory. "It's an excellent feeling being on top of the podium. It's been a long time since I've had an F3 win. I was very careful not to jump the start this time. I wanted to keep the lead into the first corner... then I had to do it all over again after the Safety Car. I was pushing very hard and the circuit was really slippery with lots of oil everywhere. I took it a bit easier on the last lap. It would have been embarrassing to go off at the end!" It was nearly embarrassing for Davies and Kolby too, though Davies admitted he was being careful. "We nearly crashed into each other. I wasn't going to try and do what I did in the first race again, and try to get to the front round the outside of the Hairpin. I can't complain too much. I thought I might have a chance of going through after the Safety Car, but Button was so much faster. I never got close enough. Jenson drove intelligently and there wasn't much I could do." Kolby wasn't too unhappy with his third place. "I'm quite happy. This has been quite a good race for me too. I killed the clutch a bit in the first race and the new one felt a bit odd. It was very long. My initial getaway wasn't very good and Matt got by me. I was a lot better in the slow corners but I had understeer in the faster corners. It was all about pushing all the way till the end, but I was always too far behind at the places where you can overtake." Just off the podium was Marc Hynes. The points gap between him and Burti is now reduced to two and there are still four races to go. This one could go down to the wire and no one would bet on Manor not taking the title in their first year in the Formula. Even so, Marc was frustrated; he had hoped for much more from this weekend. "It's the most frustrating weekend I've had since I last came to Wales." It was probably made worse by following on from the euphoria of winning at Zandvoort the previous weekend but really he had nothing to be ashamed of. Fifth, and driver of the day after a quite remarkable performance, was Michael Bentwood, the Carlin driver having his best weekend ever in racing. He was followed home by Tim Spouge, and by his team mate Narain Karthikeyan, who may look like Bambi but who was driving as if he was rabid this afternoon. Those long eyelashes should fool no one; he's one of the toughest racers out there when the mood takes him, as Burti now knows to his cost. Burti finished a little ahead of Tor Sriachavanon, who thought he had a slow puncture and was nursing it home. The last slot in the top 10 went to National Class winner Martin O'Connell, who was just relieved to be leaving Pembrey with the car in one piece. "I'm sure it was a little bit better because I was actually able to overtake someone rather than hold them up. Yes, it was a little better. To run two races here with the Hairpin and from near the back and survive with no damage is a near miracle. It was a bad weekend that could have been a lot worse. I'm sure this is just a bad meeting and things will pick up again towards the end of the season." The last Championship point went to Andrew Kirkaldy, whose miserable season just isn't getting any better. The two SpeedSport cars of Toby Scheckter and Warren Carway came home 12th and 13th and last but not least was John Bender who survived the carnage to take second place in the National Class, moving him up to second in the category.
Results: 1st - No 6 - Jenson Button, Promatecme, F399 Renault, 19:52.321, 87.92 mph 2nd - No 3 - Matt Davies, Fortec, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 2.213 3rd - No 4 - Kristian Kolby, Fortec, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 2.655 4th - No 17 - Marc Hynes, Manor, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 6.432 5th - No 14 - Michael Bentwood, Carlin, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 8.800 6th - No 15 - Tim Spouge, S S Sport, Dallara F399 Spiess-Opel, Gap: 9.047 7th - No 12 - Narain Karthikeyan, Carlin, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 10.307 8th - No 1 - Luciano Burti, Stewart, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 12.610 9th - No 18 - Tor Sriachavanon, Manor, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 16.122 10th - No 51 - Martin O'Connell, Rowan, F398 TOM'S-Toyota, 20:09.785, 86.65 mph (National Class Winner) 11th - No 2 - Andrew Kirkaldy, Stewart, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 19.489 12th - No 9 - Toby Scheckter, SpeedSport, F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 19.962 13th - No 10 - Warren Carway, SpeedSport, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 23.338 14th - No 54 - John Bender, Carlin, Dallara F398 Mugen-Honda, Gap: 23.724
Not Classified: No 8 - Doug Bell, ADR, F399 Mugen-Honda, Lap 15 No 5 - Aluizio Coelho, Promatecme, F399 Renault, Lap 3, Crashed into pit wall after incident with Spouge and Bentwood No. 77 - Takuma Sato, Diamond, F398 Mugen-Honda, Lap 1, Retired
Did Not Start: No 7 - Yudai Igarashi, ADR, Dallara F399 Mugen-Honda
Fastest laps: Championship Class - No 6, Jenson Button, 51.579, 163.55 kph, 101.62 mph National Class - No. 51, Martin O'Connell, 52.629, 160.28 kph, 99.60 mph
Standings: Championship Class: 1st - Luciano Burti - 157 points 2nd - Marc Hynes - 155 points 3rd - Jenson Button - 122 points 4th - Kristian Kolby - 111 points 5th - Narain Karthikeyan - 98 points 6th - Matt Davies - 91 points 7th - Andrew Kirkaldy - 50 points 8th - Michael Bentwood - 48 points 9th - Alex Yoong - 37 points 10th - Tim Spouge - 30 points 11th - Aluizio Coelho - 24 points 12th - Doug Bell - 21 points 13th - Tor Sriachavanon - 14 points 14th - Yudai Igarashi/Toby Scheckter - 11 points 16th - Warren Carway - 5 points
National Class: 1st - Martin O'Connell - 190 points 2nd - Jeremy Smith - 111 points 3rd - John Bender, 91 points 4th - Takuma Sato, 50 points 5th - Gavin Jones, 45 points 6th - Stephen Shanley, 22 points 7th - John Ingram, 8 points
Next Round: Donington Park - September 4th/5th