F3 Masters at Zandvoort by Stella Thomas/MNI
On Sunday morning, it looked like being even hotter than on Saturday. The grid was finalised with the four wild card entries going to David Terrien, Bas Leinders, Robert Lechner and Christijan Albers, based on their qualifying times. It was just as well, with Albers sponsored by Marlboro and being the local hero.
Andrej Pavicevic was 2nd reserve, behind Paula Cook. At one point it looked like she might just get in too. Early on in the session, it looked like she just might get into the race too. Luciano Burti, in an uncharacteristic fit of over-enthusiasm, wiped himself and Ben Collins out on the entrance to Tarzan about three minutes into the session. The Brazilian's car was craned out of the way and deposited behind the barriers, but for Collins, one of the dreaded white breakdown trucks was summoned.
The crew hooked a tow rope round the gearbox and suspension of the Dallara and began dragging it backwards at speed, the infuriated Englishman running behind, shouting that they were destroying his car and should stop. They ignored him and came close to smashing the car against the barriers. And so, a car that had been only lightly damaged (a bent wishbone) ended up with the floor and a corner in need of replacement. Ben was justifiably furious and the Intersport men had a lot of work to do to get him ready to race that afternoon.
At the top of the table, Leinders was showing what he could do, if only people would stop running into him. He was the only driver to get into the 1.02s and it was an impressive performance. Translating it into a result from 29th on the grid would be another matter altogether though.
1st Bas Leinders, 1:02.940 2nd Enrique Bernoldi, 1:03.662 3rd Mario Haberfeld, 1:03.727 4th Paolo Montin, 1:03.787 5th David Saelens, 1:03.921 6th Maurizio Mediani, 1:03.932 7th Ananda Mikola, 1:03.967 8th Robert Lechner, 1:04.020 9th Kristian Kolby, 1:04.044 10th Marc Hynes, 1:04.070 11th Pierre Kaffer, 1:04.114 12th Timo Scheider, 1:04.114 13th Thomas Jaeger, 1:04.138 14th Yudai Igarashi, 1:04.149 15th Lucas Luhr, 1:04.149 16th David Terrien, 1:04.157 17th Hoover Orsi, 1:04.182 18th Andrej Pavicevic 1:04.204 19th Donny Crevels, 1:04.214 20th Jeffrey van Hooydonk, 1:04.233 21st Peter Sundberg, 1:04.248 22nd Johan Stureson, 1:04.279 23rd Paula Cook, 1:04.310 24th Sebastien Dumez, 1:04.332 25th Davide Uboldi, 1:04.374 26th Sebastian Bourdais, 1:04.406 27th Franck Montagny, 1:04.484 28th Thomas Mutsch, 1:04.564 29th Gabriele Gardel, 1:04.572 30th Enrico Toccacelo, 1:04.620 31st Christijan Albers, 1:04.707 32nd Steffen Widmann, 1:04.756 33rd Luciano Burti, 1:05.106 34th Ben Collins, 1:05.554
Formula 3 - Starting Grid David Saelens Enrique Bernoldi Kristian Kolby Paolo Montin Mario Haberfeld Jeffrey van Hooydonk Donny Crevels Sebastien Dumez Timo Schneider Luciano Burti Lucas Luhr Johan Stureson Hoover Orsi Franck Montagny Thomas Jaeger Maurizio Mediani Pierre Kaffer Ben Collins Ananda Mikola Yudai Igarashi Marc Hynes Steffen Widmann Sebastien Bourdais Enrico Toccacelo Peter Sundberg Thomas Mutsch Gabriele Gardel Davide Uboldi Bas Leinders Christijan Albers David Terrien Robert Lechner Paula Cook - 1st Reserve Andrej Pavicevic - 2nd Reserve
It wasn't easy getting the 1998 event underway. The track was incredibly messy after the Megane race, or rather attempted race. Because the Masters was being televised live, it was essential that the race start on time. The Meganes were on just before and had been told that they had better behave themselves if they wanted their race to happen. Well, if what followed was their idea of good behaviour, I don't want to be there the day they take it into their heads to behave badly.
A first lap crash lead to major gridlock on the track (and later 12 cars unable to take the restart). By the time that had been sorted out, it was too late for a restart and so they were told their race would be cancelled. This sparked a sit-down strike on the grid and an emergency meeting with the Clerk of the Course and assorted officials. The problem was finally averted when the Mayor of Zandvoort agreed to an extension of the usual curfew time and the grid was cleared, ready for the F3s.
With everyone now slightly jumpy, the event was further delayed when Davide Uboldi stalled on the grid and the start was aborted. An announcement was made stating that the race would still go full distance, 32 laps, though this later turned out not to be the case.
Anyway. Finally, about 12 minutes late, the race got underway and the first casually arrived mere seconds afterwards, Luciano Burti continuing the mood he had started earlier that day, by hitting Hoover Orsi. The young Brazilian was a little taken aback, protesting that he thought Lu was his friend. Hopefully, he was only joking. As the slogan goes, at 200 mph you have no friends. Certainly Hoover was upset to be out of the race so soon, the suspension of his Dallara out of commission and a wheel hanging off.
He wasn't alone in his retirement though. He was joined almost immediately by Bas Leinders, who wasn't sure who had hit him, only that it was "Some Italian. I don't know who but it doesn't matter because he's never going anywhere..." And as if Frits van Amersfoort didn't have enough to worry about, his second car failed to complete lap 1 either, Albers too getting wiped out in the ensuing confusion and retiring on lap 4. It wasn't exactly a weekend to remember for the local team.
At the front, things were quite a bit calmer, though Kolby again messed up his start, putting the power down too hard, spinning the wheels. His racing driver sister, Kirsten (now retired) was quite certain what the problem was: "My brother is an arsehole," she remarked afterwards. Strong words but then, she was pretty frustrated watching him go from a good grid position to 19th when he compounded his sins by throwing it off on the final corner of the first lap and damaging the car. "It made people sit up and take notice," he said afterwards, but whether it was the sort of notice he really wanted was another matter.
Another not making as good a start as he would have wished was Enrique Bernoldi. The Brazilian teenager had to give way to David Saelens who made a copybook start, even though he was on the side of the track that seemed to have less grip. And he would stay ahead for the next 31 laps, though he couldn't shake Bernoldi off. The youngster had a couple of opportunities to pass, though the best one was lost when he was confronted by a sea of waved yellows on the first lap. He would sit there behind Saelens for lap after lap, waiting for his chance, but it never quite came. His attempts to take the lead were not helped by having Mario Haberfeld glued to his gearbox the whole time. The quiet Brazilian had capitalised on Kolby's awful start and was just waiting for a mistake from the man ahead of him too.
Even when Saelens started hearing odd noises from behind him and thought the Renault power unit might be about to have a cylinder go he didn't really back off. He admitted that he had made a couple of mistakes while he was worrying about what was happening behind his head, but although this allowed Bernoldi to get closer, it wasn't enough. Even with his braking left as late as possible, it was clear that Enrique was not going to pass if Saelens could help it.
In the middle ground, Luciano Burti and Timo Scheider were locked into a furious fight for 9th place which nearly resolved itself when Luciano tried to get round the outside at Tarzan and was lucky to stay on through a very sideways moment. He had learned a useful lesson there; it's near to impossible to go round the outside at Tarzan, at least if you want to come out again. He kept trying though, eventually outbraking himself back two place and allowing Jeffery van Hooydonk to get through.
Still, everyone gained a place when Donny Crevels suddenly vanished from the lonely 5th place he had been quietly occupying all afternoon. Suddenly there were no Dutch drivers left at all. He was joined in retirement by Gabriele Gardel who went straight on at Tarzan, his brakes having no effect whatsoever. And just for good measure, David Terrien, the last surviving wildcard entry, went off on the kerbs exiting Tarzan and put himself out with two laps to go.
Further back, there was a massive queue developing behind Ben Collins, who was driving a very defensive race. He had seen it all go badly wrong here and he wasn't in the mood to make concessions to anyone. Eventually, everyone from 14th to 20th was in a high speed train behind the Englishman. This cluster included Kolby, who was attacking Marc Hynes for 18th place, the two fighting it out for lap after lap until Peter Sundberg got between them and gave Marc a little breathing space. He would finish 15th and Kolby would make it to 17th. It was a poor reward for his practice efforts but he only really had himself to blame this time.
Even further back, Robert Lechner was no calmer than he had been the day before. He was in 26th and prepared to fight for every inch of space. If you wanted to take him on, well, that was up to you. Finally, it went the way most of us would have predicted and he went off at the exit of Tarzan on Lap 11, damaging the car and limping into retirement. Perhaps they should have made him wear the chicken suit.
And on Lap 31 (not 32 which would have been full distance) the flag came out, to Bernoldi's surprise. He fully expected to have one more lap to try and deal with Saelens and was not best pleased to hear his engineer screaming at him that it was the last lap. And so, in front of 70,000 spectators, Saelens came home to victory, the third Benelux driver (and the second Belgian) in as many years to win this event.
Afterwards, Saelens was delighted with his win. "It means a lot to me to win this race, though it's strange to be sitting here between these two great drivers." He knew what he was up against, having raced in Formula Renault against both Brazilians. They, meanwhile, were putting brave faces on it, Bernoldi claiming that he was happy with 2nd when it was clear that he wasn't, and Haberfeld wearing an expression that made him look like a kicked puppy. Still, neither of them had anything to be ashamed of. They had both driven well; it was just that Saelens had been as near perfect as it is possible to get here. They had the consolation of having netted the Nations Cup for Brazil too, while the Marcel Albers for fastest lap went to David Terrien.
1st David Saelens, Time: 33:21.247, Speed: 140.473, Fastest lap: 1:03.712 2nd Enrique Bernoldi, Gap: 0.334 3rd Mario Haberfeld, Gap: 1.117 4th Paolo Montin, Gap: 2.489 5th Sebastien Dumez, Gap: 7.667 6th Franck Montagny, Gap: 10.192 7th Jeffrey van Hooydonk, Gap: 18.368 8th Timo Scheider, Gap: 18.720 9th Luciano Burti, Gap: 20.749 10th Lucas Luhr, Gap: 21.179 11th Johan Stureson, Gap: 21.633 12th Maurizio Mediani, Gap: 22.072 13th Ben Collins, Gap: 24.7683 14th Thomas Jaeger, Gap: 25.539 15th Marc Hynes, Gap: 26.132 16th Peter Sundberg, Gap: 26.448 17th Kristian Kolby, Gap: 27.259 18th Steffen Widmann, Gap: 42.524 19th Enrico Toccacelo, Gap: 44.107 20th Sebastian Bourdais, Gap: 44.385 21st Davide Uboldi, Gap: 53.754 22nd Pierre Kaffer, Gap: 1 lap
DNF: David Terrien, Gap: 2 laps Gabriele Gardel, Gap: 7 laps Donny Crevels, Gap: 9 laps Ananda Mikola, Gap: 19 laps Robert Lechner, Gap: 20 laps Yudai Igarashi, Gap: 25 laps Christijan Albers, Gap: 26 laps Thomas Mutsch, Gap: 28 laps Bas Leinders, Gap: 30 laps Hoover Orsi, Gap: 31 laps
Marcel Albers Trophy for Fastest Race Lap: David Terrien - Time: 1:03.589, Lap 11, 142.610 kph Nations Cup: Brazil (Enrique Bernoldi, Mario Haberfeld)