Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas, BF3 correspondents
At the end of an odd afternoon’s racing at Monza, Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin) came out the winner of his first ever British F3 International Series race, ahead of Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport), with Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) netting 3rd after a hard battle with most of the rest of the field. The National Class winner was Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport), despite being chased down in the closing stages by Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing) in a battle that only ended when they clashed and Padayachee went off on the final lap.
At the start things were more than slightly fraught with the race declared wet, but everyone on the grid being slick-shod. The fact that this was not a good idea was doubly underlined by Nick McBride (T-Sport), when the Australian went off at the first chicane on the formation lap and had to rejoin behind the Safety Car, overtaking it to get back to his grid slot. As it turned out he might have been better advised not to bother. The lights went out and everyone trundled round to the pits for wet weather tyres. The deal was the race would thus start when the first car emerged from the pitlane after the team had changed the tyres. The people most on the ball were Sainz’s crew and the young Spaniard thus emerged in the lead of the race, just ahead of Fahmi Ilyas (Double R Racing). At least Double R had managed one good pit stop because they couldn’t get the right rear wheel off Geoff Uhrhane’s car no matter what they threw at it, and heaven knows they tried. The race was over six minutes old when they finally managed to shift the thing and send him back out on a more suitable compound.
With the race now underway the order as they emerged was Sainz from Ilyas, with Pietro Fantin (Carlin) heading McBride, Derani, Jaafar, Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport), Harry Tincknell (Carlin), Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport) and Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport). Jack Harvey was 11th (Carlin) from Goddard and Padayachee. However, that was soon shaken up when Serralles skittered off at the Chicane as did McBride (who seemed to be having a great deal of difficulty getting round there in the approved manner. With Ilyas holding up the pack, Sainz was happily pulling away at the front, building a lead and hoping it would be enough. With Derani and Fantin tripping each other up and trading places, and McBride again short-cutting the Chicane it was all a bit chaotic. McBride dropped right down the order as a result and ended up behind van Asseldonk, Harvey and Serralles, all of them scrapping over 9th place.
A mistake from Ilyas was all it took for a change of place for 2nd, when Derani made a lunge at the Malaysian and Ilyas went straight on instead of keeping it on the track. That let the diminutive Brazilian through and dropped Ilyas into the clutches of the second of the boys from Brazil. It didn’t take long for Fantin to get past as well, and then everyone except for the National Class runners and Uhrhane were all over the unfortunate Double R driver.
The main beneficiary of all this was Jaafar, who had battled his way through to 4th and was now looking interested in making Fantin his next victim, while Ilyas fell back into the clutches of Tincknell and co. With Harvey, McBride, Lynn and Serralles waiting in the wings it looked as if it wouldn’t be that long before a more normal order prevailed. In the National Class, meanwhile, Goddard was being caught by Padayachee, presumably benefitting from the fact that neither of them knew Monza before arriving on Thursday, unlike the situation at Oulton Park a week ago. Just ahead of them McBride again took a detour via the Chicane while Sainz continued to build his lead, looking very sure-footed in the slippery conditions, even as the rainfall eased.
Behind him Derani was having a lonely run to the flag now that Fantin had fallen away, the latter losing out to Jaafar as well, instead starting a fierce battle with Tincknell for 4th, despite being in the same team. Ilyas continued to fall away and was now 8th, and looked unlikely to hold even that place for too long. The one thing saving him was probably the fact that McBride, Lynn (who would have been further forward were it not for an unscheduled dive through the gravel) and Serralles were far too busy fighting each other to concern themselves with anyone else. Lynn had a real go at McBride and managed to get through, which meant Ilyas’ days were numbered. This was exactly how it turned out too, with McBride and Serralles also slipstreaming past at the first opportunity. That wasn’t the only battling working itself out. Fantin and Tincknell swapped places for 4th only to swap back again a lap later, shortly before Tincknell made a mistake and ended up in the gravel.
Sainz, meanwhile, continued on his apparently untroubled way to the flag, catching and passing Uhrhane on his way to victory. For a brief moment it looked as if the National Class was going to go the way of Padayachee, as he started the final lap ahead of Goddard, though only just. Spike wasn’t having that and fought back, with the result that they clashed and Padayachee ended up crashing out of the race. Goddard came home to victory while all his fellow Antipodean had to show for his efforts was a point for fastest lap of the race in the class. It was poor reward for a promising effort.
And so, watched by his father, Sainz Jr came home to his first victory and a one point lead in the championship, from a delighted Derani, Jaafar, van Asseldonk, Harvey, Lynn, Fantin, McBride, Ilyas and Serralles. Goddard was 11th overall ahead of Uhrhane who finished two laps adrift. Later Harvey was penalised 10 seconds for missing the Chicane and thus dropped two places to 7th behind Lynn and Fantin.
Fastest laps were set by Lynn and Padayachee.
Weather: Clouding over, spitting with rain, getting worse as the race start nears.