<pre> 2001 Green Flag British Formula Three Championship Rounds 1 and 2 - Silverstone, March 31st/April 1st </pre> by Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite - Motorsport.com Round 2: Weather: Sunny, dry. Track very oily after the ...
<pre> 2001 Green Flag British Formula Three Championship Rounds 1 and 2 - Silverstone, March 31st/April 1st </pre>
by Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite - Motorsport.com
Weather: Sunny, dry. Track very oily after the TVRs.
At the start of Round 2 of this year's British F3 series, Matt Davies (Avanti) more than adequately demonstrated what a lot of us already knew - he's a very fine driver indeed. Even struggling to find enough cash to run in the series this year hasn't slowed him up any. The young man from Essex made a super start to capitalise on his hard-won pole position, and he wasn't going to let anyone take the lead off him if he could help it; not even Gianmaria Bruni (Fortec Motorsport) was going to be allowed to unnerve Matt. Now if ever there was a driver who can put pressure on it's Gimmi, often to the point of getting more than a little physical about it. However, more than once in the past Matt has shown he can take it - and take it he did, for lap after lap, even holding off a particularly robust attempt at getting by on the final lap. Matt's pleasure in his victory must have been obvious to everyone, and hopefully it will mean he can find the money to run in the next two rounds at Snetterton over the Easter weekend. He should not be struggling like this, but that's the trouble with having lost momentum as he did last year. Of course he didn't really have the budget for 2000 either but as he was never likely to be able to challenge for the championship with the Renault engine that Promatecme had to use, there were those who lost sight of just how good he is. Now all he needs to do is convince the moneymen that he is a potential champion.
Bruni's performance too was impressive, especially as it turned out he had a slow puncture in the closing stages of the race. It didn't slow him any that I could see, but maybe he just thought he had nothing to lose. Davies was later heard to complain that it was a little lonely with no one in front of him, but he didn't really mean it, not with Gimmi matching his pace lap after lap and the vivid blue, yellow and red livery looming in his mirrors. Matt's confidence is high now, and he will be hard to beat if he can just raise the cash. "To be honest I thought I had a chance to do something this weekend, but when I qualified on pole for the second race I had to make sure I did! We didn't have a good year in this series last year, but I know how to win races and now I want to do the whole season - it just depends on the money!"
The third placed man was Derek Hayes, the Manor driver having a pretty quiet time in this race, not quite able to catch up with the two leaders, but far enough ahead of Takuma Sato (Carlin Motorsport) that he wasn't troubled by the Japanese driver. At least Sato seemed to have calmed down after his earlier exploits. Perhaps he felt he had bounced off enough of the other cars for one day. Perhaps he was just generally happier with the car and himself than he had appeared to be earlier in the day, even though the balance was still not to his liking. It didn't help that Andy Priaulx (Alan Docking Racing) was giving him a pretty hard time for most of the early laps. After Priaulx and his team-mate Paul Edwards had looked so impressive in practice for the first race, it looks like ADR are well on their way back to where they belong at the top of this Formula. They may well be the elder statesmen of the Formula but they haven't lost their enthusiasm for it one bit, and it's good to see them running so well again after a couple of years in the wilderness. Priaulx has a point to prove too, having lost out on what many felt were the prime seats in the formula, maybe because he's seen as too old in some quarters. Twenty-seven may be a little old for a single-seater rising star, but there's no reason why Andy can't turn that perception on its head this year.
Meanwhile, another "senior citizen" was giving the youngsters a lesson in F3 race craft. Martin O'Connell, drafted in at Avanti for this weekend only, was showing James Courtney (Jaguar Racing F3) a thing or two, unnerving the Aussie at Becketts. Courtney went wide in avoidance, which also let Nicolas Kiesa (Prost Junior Team) through, although James would afterwards claim he was just being sensible... which is not a claim he is likely to make often, at least not if he wants to be believed. Martin was never challenged again for 6th place, while James was left to fight it out with his teammate, Andre Lotterer and with Kiesa for 7th. The Dane would take the place, while Lotterer, who had made up huge amounts of ground during the first lap (seven places - he started 13th and was 7th by the time the field came back round to the start/finish line for the first time having confined his most exciting move to the area in front of the team's hospitality suite so their guests could see him!), was finally forced to give way to Courtney. It was a huge improvement on the morning even so, and he was pleased to have opened his points account. The final point went to Mark Taylor (Manor Motorsport) who was having a much quieter race than he had in the morning. He had fallen back a bit at the start but then settled down to run just outside the points, a position he held until Bruce Jouanny (Promatecme UK) went off and let him through, the unfortunate Frenchman ending up 15th when the flag fell. A grateful Taylor tacked on to the group in pursuit of O'Connell but could do little about any of them and would have to settle for 10th.
Missing out on points were Anthony Davidson (Carlin), in 11th, Jeffrey Jones (Manor) and Ryan Dalziel (Prost Junior Team) who scrapped happily for 12th until Jones got the advantage and got away slightly, and Atsushi Katsumata (Promatecme) who finished just ahead of team-mate Jouanny. The two Menu Motorsport cars of Tim Spouge and Rob Austin were the last classified Class A runners, Austin having tangled with Jamie Spence (Duma) on the first lap. This left Spence with a puncture, which would eventually pitch him into the gravel and out of the race a couple of laps later. Another driver having an awful afternoon was Paul Edwards (Alan Docking Racing), the American having to pit twice for new bodywork during the course of the race. Alex Gurney was equally troubled and would also join the ranks of non-classified drivers before the race was very old.
There was a fair amount of debris around the track one way and another after the first lap and it would play a decisive part in the fight for Scholarship Class glory. From fourth on the grid, Michael Keohane (Team Meritus) made a storming start and took the lead early on. He seemed all set for victory when he encountered something "foreign" at Abbey and fell off on his fifth lap. A grateful Matt Gilmore (Performance Racing), having started from pole, accepted the lead and would hold it for the remainder of the race to take his second win of the day as well as a clear lead in series with full points. When you consider that Matthew made his debut in the final round of the series last year, having come straight from Junior Formula Ford, and without any testing finished dead last, it's fair to say he's making good progress.
In second at the end, and seemingly a much more concentrated driver than he was last year, was Mark Mayall (Diamond Racing). If anyone had tried to persuade us that he would be running this well based on the way he drove last year, we would have laughed at them. In fact he was only really troubled by the fact that Rob Austin (Menu Motorsport) was back there too and getting underfoot. It's not often you find Class B drivers protesting about being held up by Class A runners but unless the Menu boys get their act together soon it's likely there's going to be quite a bit more of it this season. Third was Adam Blair (Performance), followed closely by the two Fred Goddard Racing runners, Robert Doornbos and Robbie Kerr. Kerr was really not at all happy after what he saw as his less than successful start to the season, particularly being made to start from the back in Round 1. Expect him to be a lot further forward in future. Of course, quite what someone who has done Formula Palmer Audi in the past is doing in Class B of British F3 is a good question. He really shouldn't be here now, but it does suggest that FPA was a complete waste of his budget and he would have been better off passing through F3 a lot sooner. Still the same could be said for Hayes and Edwards. At least they are here now and will get a chance to show what they're really made of. OK, so F3 isn't as PR-friendly as FPA but a good driver will soon shine through and at least you know that whatever happens, it's down to the team and driver and not some general master plan of the series organiser or someone.
All alone in 6th in class was Craig Murray, with Stuart King (Shift Motorsport) also having a quiet afternoon. Justin Sherwood (Performance Racing), was able to see off Peter Nilsson (Team Meritus) for 8th, the experienced "gentleman racer" more a match for a man who doesn't really seem to want to be a racing driver anyway. The final point fell to Parthiva Sureshwaren (ME Motorsport), the Indian driver being lapped by the leaders in the closing stages of the race. The final classified runners were Shinsuke Yamazaki (Diamond Racing) and his teammate Harold Primat. The Frenchman was not having a happy afternoon, nor for that matter was the tiny Japanese. It probably doesn't help that neither of them knows the circuits well and so they can't really help each other. And last of all was Ernani Judice (Parker F3). The Brazilian had an excuse though, having spent quite a bit of time in the pits early on.
What was generally a pretty bad day for the Japanese drivers, with only Sato salvaging anything from Round 2, also saw Kazuki Hoshino pulling in to the pits at the end of lap 3 and staying there. Both Stuart Turvey (Gatelie) and Aaron Scott (Rowan Racing), failed to get beyond half distance and Rowland Kinch (Team PARK) was another to finish the day in the pit lane.