CONSISTENCY PAYS FOR CLARKE
Silverstone, 14th August 2005: Dan Clarke's win-or-bust rookie season in the British Formula 3 International Series had a new twist on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit at the weekend when he took three consistent top six finishes - including a podium result in the first race - in his Raikkonen Robertson Racing Dallara-Mugen Honda. Clarke made the most of not quite having the speed to challenge the leaders to net a useful haul of points which has vaulted him from eighth to fifth in the championship - and onto the coat tails of the third-place battle.
But the phlegmatic Englishman was unimpressed after a weekend that provided little to slake his thirst for drama. "You can't race much on this circuit," explained Clarke. There are a lot of fast corners where you lose a lot of downforce. The racing was quite hard, because I just didn't have the pace to challenge the people in front and had to concentrate on defending, and luckily it all worked out."
Even so, Dan pulled off a number of impressive overtaking manoeuvres after starting the first two races from seventh on the grid, and the third from ninth. I had to make the best of a bad job, he said. I was as fast as I could have been this weekend, but we couldn't put our finger on what was wrong with the car. Nothing actually felt wrong - otherwise we'd have known what to fix! I just had to capitalise on other peoples' mistakes."
In the first race Clarke held off Danilo Dirani and Marko Asmer as he raced to third. In the second he once again fended off Dirani en route to fifth. And in the third he pipped the inevitable Dirani by a mere 0.02 seconds for sixth place. Just to complete the Dirani theme, the Brazilian is one of those Dan has leapfrogged in the battle for the championship. But it's winning, not points, that concerns Clarke.
"I don't care much about the points, he shrugged. I'm just concentrating on the driving and that'll stand me in good stead for next season. Some people are just far too concerned about points: Asmer totally gifted me a position in the first race and didn't even stay on the circuit!"
Next up it's the Nurburgring in Germany, a circuit Dan has never driven at, but I've got some notes from our team driver coach Danny Watts, who raced there in the F3 Euroseries a couple of weeks ago" commented Clarke. And it's a circuit that, in between the fast stuff, has some very tight hairpins - in other words a breeding ground for the dramatic racing Clarke thrives on.