F3 Masters at Zandvoort by Stella Thomas/MNI
Qualifying Race (Odd Numbers):
On Saturday afternoon, conditions were very hot again, with clear skies and quite a strong wind. In some ways, it was ideal racing weather, at least for the fans. For the drivers, it was going to be hard work.
At the start, Bernoldi made a classic move and arrived at Tarzan ahead of the pack. And that was how he would stay while behind him a series of intense battles broke out. While Gianluca Calgani provided the traditional first lap Zandvoort casualty, Albers was moving up through the order, fired up by racing at home and wanting to show well. It wasn't to last. One lone official believed that the Dutch teenager had jumped the start and he was given a 10 second stop/go penalty. "I rolled slightly but then I braked. I didn't even overtake anyone at the start," the aggrieved youngster said afterwards. By the time he emerged from the pits after his penalty he was 22nd and he would have a lot of work to do if he wanted to get through to the finals. And him with Marlboro sponsorship too. The pressure was on again.
In the main, though, there was a certain amount of caution being exercised. After all, the last thing anyone wanted was to qualify but have a car too heavily damaged to use in the morning. This was not a consideration that seemed to have occurred to Robert Lechner though, as he damaged the nose of his yellow Dallara trying to get past Faessler. So while Ben Collins began trying to hack through the order, Lechner started to drop back.
Trouble struck not long afterwards, with an increasingly frustrated Lechner trying everything he could think of to pass Igarashi. And all for 12th place. It hardly seemed worth it. Lechner was driving the Dallara as if it was a Formula Ford, locking up everywhere, and while it was spectacular to watch, it certainly wasn't very effective and it wasn't pretty.
At the front, things weren't too pretty either. The track was hideously slippery and Bernoldi was holding on but wasn't it easy. The oil laid down by the various other categories lead to him having wheelspin even on the straights although this seemed to amuse him more than distress him. "It was really hard work, but it was fun," he said afterwards. Unfortunately for him, it meant that the others could just follow him round, using him as a sort of experimental subject. If he started to slide, they knew they needed to be extra careful. Anyway, no one was about to do anything stupid at this stage of the weekend, although Mediani was giving the idea of passing Montagny some serious consideration.
In the end, though, common sense prevailed for everyone except Lechner who had managed to progress from 8th at the start to 21st, courtesy of a couple of moves that should probably have seen him making the acquaintance of the Clerk of the Course.
Qualifying Race Results (Odd Numbers):
1st Enrique Bernoldi, F398 Renault, Time: 21:27.513 2nd Paolo Montin, F398 Fiat, Gap: 1.374 3rd Jeffrey van Hooydonk, F398 Opel Spiess, Gap: 11.366 4th Sebastien Dumez, F396 Renault, Gap: 11.942 5th Luciano Burti, F398 Mugen, Gap: 13.469 6th Johan Stureson, F397 Opel, Gap: 14.351 7th Franck Montagny, MK73 Opel, Gap: 14.877 8th Maurizio Mediani, F396 Alfa Romeo, Gap: 15.671 9th Ben Collins, F398 Opel, Gap: 16.402 10th Yudai Igarashi, F397 Mugen, Gap: 23.866 11th Steffen Widmann, F397 Opel, Gap: 26.255 12th Enrico Toccacelo, F395 Fiat, Gap: 32.318 13th Thomas Mutsch, F397 Opel, Gap: 34.269 14th Davide Uboldi, F398 Mugen, Gap: 37.681 15th Andrej Pavicevic, F397 Mugen, Gap: 39.615 16th Christijan Albers, F398 Opel, Gap: 43.254 17th Michael Becker, F398 Opel, Gap: 43.749 18th Stanislas D'Oultremont, F397 Opel, Gap: 46.715 19th Robert Lechner, F397 Opel, Gap: 49.172 20th Nicklas Karlsson, F396 Fiat, Gap: 57.644 21st Riccardo Ronchi, F398 Fiat, Gap: 1 lap
DNF: 22nd Nikolaos Stremmenos, F398 Opel, Gap: 5 laps 23rd Marcel Faessler, MK73 Opel, Gap: 8 laps 24th Gianluca Calcagni, F397 Opel, Gap: 19 laps
Qualifying Race (Even Numbers):
Race 2 was also held on Saturday afternoon and while Saelens got the jump on Kolby and got away in the lead, the Van Amersfoort saga continued with Bas Leinders managing about 200 metres before he was hit by David Terrien. As the Belgian limped back to the pits for repairs, Ricardo Mauricio arrived and did nothing to improve ADR's weekend either. Collecting Leinders, he did massive damage to both cars and ensured they were both really out of the race.
Meanwhile, local hero Donny Crevels was fourth, behind Kolby and Haberfeld, the latter really charged up and just waiting for the Dane to make the slightest error. You can never give Haberfeld an inch because he will take it; luckily for Kristian, he is well aware of that and he was concentrating hard after losing his pole position advantage to Saelens. The Belgian was surprised it had been that easy, suggesting that Kristian seemed to have gone to sleep. However, poor starts have plagued the Dane all year, and not even a day just practising nothing but starts seems to have cured the problem. This has baffled Fortec who really do not know what to do to help. At the practice day, he was starting as well as anyone could have wished, but repeating the performance at the circuit on race day seems to be beyond him at present. This is odd, because in all other respects, Kris is a formidable talent in the making, whatever his sister Kirsten says about him!
Further back the holiday-making Hynes was having a fine old time at his first Masters, attacking hard though to very little effect. Among the British contenders having a rotten time was Paula Cook. She had been running well when a mistake by one of the other runners saw her having to take avoiding action. She had been well in contention to go through to the final but was now out of the running and quite obviously furious about it. The trouble was, on a track as slippery as this, the opportunities to move back up the order are limited and she would finish up 15th, with the first reserve slot for the finals.
Another driver with a powerful incentive to get through was the third Dutch driver in the event, Wouter van Eewijk. Now Wouter's father owns a fast food business which seems to involve a lot of chickens and as a publicity stunt a chicken suit had been organised. This had been much in evidence at the preceding German F3 round as a member of GM strutted around the grid dressed as a giant chicken. The deal was, if Wouter didn't qualify, his mechanic would wear the suit the following day. However, this was subverted and the driver was now under threat of having to wear the thing himself. His exit on lap 18, having fought his way through to 14th place, must, therefore, have had him worried. But it wasn't his fault, the fuel pump had failed so the threat wasn't carried out. Shame really.
Qualifying Race Results (Even Numbers):
1st David Saelens, F396 Renault, Time: 21:16.663 2nd Kristian Kolby, F397 Mugen, Gap: 0.936 3rd Mario Haberfeld, F398 Mugen, Gap: 1.308 4th Donny Crevels, F397 Opel, Gap: 1.887 5th Timo Scheider, MK73 Opel, Gap: 10.007 6th Lucas Luhr, F397 Opel, Gap: 11.715 7th Hoover Orsi, F398 Opel, Gap: 15.600 8th Thomas Jaeger, MK73 Opel, Gap: 16.789 9th Pierre Kaffer, MK73 Opel, Gap: 18.790 10th Ananda Mikola, F397 Opel, Gap: 24.446 11th Marc Hynes, F398 Renault, Gap: 32.559 12th Sebastian Bourdais, MK73 Opel, Gap: 32.941 13th Peter Sundberg, F396 Fiat, Gap: 33.921 14th Gabriele Gardel, F398 Fiat, Gap: 34.975 15th Paula Cook, F398 Opel, Gap: 35.227 16th Michele Gasparini, F395 Fiat, Gap: 39.295 17th Tiago Monteiro, F396 Fiat, Gap: 56.326 18th Johnny Mislijevic, F397 Opel, Gap: 1 lap
DNF: 19th David Terrien, F396 Opel, Gap: 3 laps 20th Wouter van Eewijk, F397 Opel, Gap: 7 laps 21st Ricardo Mauricio, F397 Mugen, Gap: 20 laps 22nd Dimitris Deverikos, F397 Opel, Gap: 20 laps 23rd Bas Leinders, F398 Opel, Gap: 20 laps