F3 Masters at Zandvoort by Stella Thomas/MNI
Testing (Odd Numbers):
Testing at this event is often crucial and frequently gives pointers to the way the race will eventually go. It is usually greeted with some enthusiasm and drivers are keen to get out on the Dutch track to see how they will go. Add the fact that many of the drivers have not raced here before to the fact that they are also required to run on Bridgestone tyres (which many of them are not familiar with) and you have a recipe for disaster. In previous years stoppages have been frequent and irritating but this year the general behaviour of both the competitors and the tow-truck drivers was much improved.
Among those most keen, Fortec were first out of the pit lane, but the others were not slow off the mark in joining them. The first driver to hit his stride though, was Enrique Bernoldi, his Promatecme Renault engine seeming to run very well in the hot, dusty conditions. It wasn't too long before the front-runners cracked the 1.02 barriers, with Bernoldi right up there, closely followed by Ben Collins (Intersport) who this year has often gone well in qualifying and then found it impossible to put the necessary time down when it counts. Just behind the two of them were local hero Christijan Albers (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Franck Montagny (La Filiere). And that really was the story of the first session.
It might have been different had Robert Lechner (GSM) not gone off, having attacked the circuit with his characteristic ferocity. Unfortunately for him, Zandvoort is prone to bite back and it did. The session had to be stopped while the young Austrian was rescued but it set a pattern for the remainder of his weekend. By the end of testing, the top two were separated by 0.319 seconds while from 2nd to 21st were covered by just under 1 second.
Testing Times (Odd Numbers):
1st No. 5 Enrique Bernoldi, Brazil, Promatecme Dallara F398 Renault, 1:02.581 2nd No. 49 Ben Collins, Great Britain, Intersport Dallara F398 Opel, 1:02.900 3rd No. 1 Christijan Albers, Netherlands, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F398 Opel, 1:02.939 4th No. 15 Franck Montagny, France, La Filiere, Martini MK73 Opel, 1:02.979 5th No.25 Maurizio Mediani, Italy, Venturini Racing, Dallara F396 Alfa Romeo, 1:03.179 6th No. 17 Marcel Faessler, Switzerland, La Filiere, Martini MK73 Opel, 1:03.199 7th No. 21 Jeffrey van Hooydonk, Belgium, KMS Benetton Junior Team, Dallara F398 Opel, 1:03.242 8th No. 11 Luciano Burti, Brazil, Paul Stewart Racing, Dallara F398 Mugen, 1:03.268 9th No. 35 Steffen Widmann, Germany, Opel Team BSR, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:03.497 10th No. 27 Paolo Montin, Italy, Team Ghinzani, Dallara F398 Fiat, 1:03.633 11th No. 9 Davide Uboldi, Italy, EF Project, Dallara F398 Mugen, 1:03.685 12th No. 33 Yudai Igarashi, Japan, Alan Docking Racing, Dallara F397 Mugen, 1:03.694 13th No. 23 Thomas Mutsch, Germany, KMS Benetton Junior Team, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:03.705 14th No. 55 Nikolaos Stremmenos, Greece, Target Racing, Dallara F398 Opel, 1:03.734 15th No. 43 Andrej Pavicevic, Australia, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F397 Mugen, 1:03.759 16th No. 47 Johan Stureson, Sweden, IPS Motorsport, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:03.763 17th No. 31 Robert Lechner, Austria, GM-DSF F3, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:03.924 18th No. 19 Gianluca Calcagni, Italy, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:03.944 19th No. 3 Sebastien Dumez, France, ASM Fina, Dallara F396 Renault, 1:03.946 20th No. 29 Riccardo Ronchi, Italy, Team Ghinzani, Dallara F398 Fiat, 1:04.030 21st No. 7 Enrico Toccacelo, Italy, EF Project, Dallara F395 Fiat, 1:04.259 22nd No. 41 Stanislas D'Oultremont, USA, Opel Team R C Motorsport, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:04.632 23rd No. 51 Michael Becker, Germany, MKL F3 Racing, Dallara F398 Opel, 1:04.736 24th No. 53 Nicklas Karlsson, Sweden, Royal Automobil Club Sweden, Dallara F396 Fiat Novamotor 1:05.316
Testing (Even Numbers):
The weekend had started badly for Alan Docking Racing when the crew bus blew up just outside of Dunkerque and they had to arrange to leave it at a local garage and continue on in two hire cars. By the time they got there, BA had done all the setting up on his own and wasn't looking too happy about it. Things were going to get worse, but at this stage they didn't know that. The second session was prone to stoppages too, the main one occurring when Ricardo Mauricio (ADR) threw it into the sand traps 11 minutes in. He had seemed to be running with very little grip and no downforce just before it happened and he damaged the nose and right front. It was just what the team didn't need at this stage.
Meanwhile one of the potential stars of the event, Bas Leinders (Van Amersfoort) was playing a waiting game, trying to conserve his tyres. With very little of the session left he was only 10th but he had hardly used his Bridgestones, which everyone seemed to reckon were good for three laps maximum. With a limited numbers of tyres available, you saved a set if you could. You certainly didn't want to waste them in testing.
David Saelens (La Filiere) and Donny Crevels (Prema Powerteam) were setting the pace, with Kristian Kolby (Fortec) doing his level best to keep up with them. He was keen to make up for what has been a rather disaster-prone season and was right on the pace all the way through testing and qualifying, while the Paul Stewart Racing boys (Haberfeld and Burti) were nowhere to be seen. This was obviously not going to be the full story.
Testing Times (Even Numbers):
1st No. 4 David Saelens, Belgium, La Filiere, Dallara F396 Renault, 1:02.982 2nd No. 20 Donny Crevels, Netherlands, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:03.036 3rd No. 44 Kristian Kolby, Fortec Motorsport, Denmark, Dallara F397 Mugen, 1:03.141 4th No. 52 Lucas Luhr, Germany, MKL F3 Racing, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:03.193 5th No. 10 Mario Haberfeld, Brazil, Paul Stewart Racing, Dallara F398 Mugen, 1:03.287 6th No. 24 David Terrien, France, Graff Racing, Dallara F396 Opel, 1:03.409 7th No. 8 Michele Gasparini, Italy, E F Project, Dallara F395 Fiat, 1:03.415 8th No. 32 Ricardo Mauricio, Brazil, Alan Docking Racing, Dallara F397 Mugen, 1:03.525 9th No. 18 Timo Scheider, Germany, Josef Kaufmann Racing, Martini MK73 Opel, 1:03.577 10th No. 2 Bas Leinders, Belgium, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F398 Opel, 1:03.660 11th No. 6 Marc Hynes, Great Britain, Promatecme, Dallara F398 Renault, 1:03.799 12th No. 50 Thomas Jaeger, Germany, Klaus Trella Motorsport, Martini MK73 Opel, 1:03.964 13th No. 46 Hoover Orsi, Brazil, R C Motorsport, Dallara F398 Opel, 1:03.970 14th No. 36 Pierre Kaffer, Germany, Opel Team BSR, Martini MK73 Opel, 1:04.021 15th No. 14 Sebastian Bourdais, France, La Filiere, Martini MK73 Opel, 1:04.116 16th No. 42 Ananda Mikola, Indonesia, Marlboro Team R C Motorsport, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:04.121 17th No. 26 Peter Sundberg, Sweden, Venturini Racing, Dallara F396 Fiat, 1:04.130 18th No. 30 Wouter van Eewijk, Netherlands, GM-DSF F3, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:04.151 19th No. 28 Gabriele Gardel, Italy, Team Ghinzani, Dallara F398 Fiat, 1:04.214 20th No. 54 Paula Cook, Great Britain, D C Cook, Dallara F398 Opel, 1:04.347 21st No. 38 Tiago Monteiro, Portugal, Signature, Dallara F396 Fiat, 1:04.543 22nd No. 22 Johnny Mislijevic, Sweden, KMS Benetton Junior Team, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:04.544 23rd No. 56 Dimitris Deverikos, Greece, Target Racing, Dallara F397 Opel, 1:04.982
Qualifying (1st Session - Odd Numbers):
The first qualifying sessions took place on Friday afternoon, and with the temperature rising rapidly it was unlikely that the best times would be set before the second session on Saturday morning. Even so, you had to go out and try. There was no telling what might go wrong, after all. The track was horribly slippery and the Bridgestone grip was not improved by it. This didn't seem to deter Franck Montagny, who was again on the pace early on. Perhaps he felt at home after the French F3 contenders last outing at Paul Ricard in July. Perhaps the lilac rinse he had opted for had affected him. Who knows. He didn't hold the top slot for very long though and was soon having to give way to the more conventionally coiffed.
Provisional pole sitters were coming thick and fast at this stage, with Stureson being displaced by Christijan Albers, who was then pushed aside by Robert Lechner and Enrique Bernoldi only for Montagny top grab it back again. Meanwhile, Collins, who had been given one of the new Opel-Spiess engines to play with based on his testing pace, was up to 3rd. Marcel Faessler suddenly shot up the order to 8th and there was a slightly surreal moment when Yudai Igarashi held the top slot but then Luciano Burti woke up and slotted in a blinder of a time, leaving Bernoldi and Lechner wondering what they could do about him. And it was Luciano's first ever trip to the Masters. He had no business outclassing the more experienced runners but that didn't seem to have occurred to him.
Albers, who also had one of the upgraded Spiess engines, was a disappointed 6th. As a local hero much was expected of him, and seems the pressure was telling. Even so, 6th is hardly a poor performance given the company he was keeping. Even more disappointed was Montagny who had slipped back to 8th, only just ahead of Gianluca Calgani and Igarashi. Still, there was a second session to go. It was a long way from over.
Qualifying Times (1st Session - Odd Numbers)
1st No. 11 Luciano Burti, F398 Mugen, 1:02.669 2nd No. 5 Enrique Bernoldi, F398 Renault, 1:02.719 3rd No. 31 Robert Lechner, F397 Opel, 1:02.749 4th No. 25 Maurizio Mediani, F396 Alfa Romeo, 1:02.938 5th No. 47 Johan Stureson, F397 Opel, 1:02.973 6th No. 1 Christijan Albers, F398 Opel, 1:03.085 7th No. 49 Ben Collins, F398 Opel, 1:03.102 8th No. 15 Franck Montagny, MK73 Opel, 1:03.201 9th No. 19 Gianluca Calcagni, F397 Opel, 1:03.278 10th No. 33 Yudai Igarashi, F397 Mugen, 1:03.288 11th No. 43 Andrej Pavicevic, F397 Mugen, 1:03.475 12th No. 51 Michael Becker, F398 Opel, 1:03.480 13th No. 9 Davide Uboldi, F398 Mugen, 1:03.520 14th No. 29 Riccardo Ronchi, F398 Fiat, 1:03.610 15th No. 7 Enrico Toccacelo, F395 Fiat, 1:03.906 16th No. 55 Nikolaos Stremmenos, F398 Opel, 1:04.010 17th No. 21 Jeffrey van Hooydonk, F398 Opel, 1:04.566 18th No. 17 Marcel Faessler, MK73 Opel, 1:04.590 19th No. 27 Paolo Montin, F398 Fiat, 1:04.636 20th No. 35 Steffen Widmann, F397 Opel, 1:04.749 21st No. 3 Sebastien Dumez, F396 Renault, 1:04.825 22nd No. 23 Thomas Mutsch, F397 Opel, 1:05.354 23rd No. 53 Nicklas Karlsson, F396 Fiat, 1:05.664 24th No. 41 Stanislas D'Oultremont, F397 Opel, 1:05.958
Qualifying (1st Session - Even Numbers):
The heat was still intense when the second group emerged to begin their scrap for the best positions for their qualifying heat. Only 14 would automatically go through from each group and no one wanted to spoil their chances by not setting a good time.
It wasn't long before Kristian Kolby, Donny Crevels and Mario Haberfeld were all fighting it out. Just as it was beginning to look like a private party, the Belgians joined in, David Saelens taking the top slot only to have to relinquish it to Bas Leinders. The frequent changes continued with Haberfeld being next on top, only to get bumped back down by Kolby who was on a roll. And then Marc Hynes, who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself on the Dutch track, was up to 4th despite repeated claims that he was really on holiday.
At the end, though, Kolby put in a blinder of a lap, which was utterly unable to explain. When asked how he did it by Leinders, all he could do was shrug and wave his arms in the air. He claimed that he had known he would be fast around Zandvoort but even he was surprised by his actual pace. It was feeling like the Class of British Formula Ford 1995, with Bas following him in for 2nd ahead of surprise 3rd place man Hynes.
Qualifying Times (1st Session - Even Numbers)
1st No. 44 Kristian Kolby, F397 Mugen, 1:02.454 2nd No. 2 Bas Leinders, F398 Opel, 1:02.532 3rd No. 6 Marc Hynes, F398 Renault, 1:02.770 4th No. 20 Donny Crevels, F397 Opel, 1:02.825 5th No. 10 Mario Haberfeld, F398 Mugen, 1:02.831 6th No. 18 Timo Scheider, MK73 Opel, 1:02.902 7th No. 24 David Terrien, F396 Opel, 1:02.911 8th No. 32 Ricardo Mauricio, F397 Mugen, 1:02.973 9th No. 52 Lucas Luhr, F397 Opel, 1:03.087 10th No. 14 Sebastian Bourdais, MK73 Opel, 1:03.201 11th No. 8 Michele Gasparini, F395 Fiat, 1:03.273 12th No. 28 Gabriele Gardel, F398 Fiat, 1:03.468 13th No. 30 Wouter van Eewijk, F397 Opel, 1:03.538 14th No. 26 Peter Sundberg, F396 Fiat, 1:03.586 15th No. 50 Thomas Jaeger, MK73 Opel, 1:03.893 16th No. 4 David Saelens, F396 Renault, 1:04.543 17th No. 42 Ananda Mikola, F397 Opel, 1:04.566 18th No. 46 Hoover Orsi, F398 Opel, 1:04.780 19th No. 36 Pierre Kaffer, MK73 Opel, 1:04.829 20th No. 38 Tiago Monteiro, F396 Fiat, 1:04.956 21st No. 22 Johnny Mislijevic, F397 Opel, 1:05.258 22nd No. 54 Paula Cook, F398 Opel, 1:05.618 23rd No. 56 Dimitris Deverikos, F397 Opel, 1:05.728
Qualifying (2nd Session - Odd Numbers):
Predictably, Saturday morning was much cooler, although it was still hot and dry and the track was no less slippery. Those who had saved a set of Bridgestones were most likely to do well. And so it turned out. Once again Johan Stureson was early on the pace but that really wasn't representative. He was quickly dropped back down the order behind Marcel Faessler and Andrej Pavicevic (who was second for a while). But it was still early.
The next two show their hands were Albers and Jeffrey van Hooydonk but that was before Bernoldi hit his pace, setting a blistering lap. He was so confident that he came in, and spent the remainder of the session leaning on the pit wall and watching the others. He was ready to go out again if need be, but it looked increasingly likely that he would not have to bother.
He might have wondered if he was being wise when Burti, who had been languishing, or sandbagging depending on your view of the normally ultra-cool Brazilian, in 17th suddenly rocketed up the order to 4th. Even so, he couldn't touch Enrique and he was bounced back down again by late flyers from Sebastien Dumez and Johan Stureson, as well as Albers who was 6th again. That left Burti a little baffled back in 7th, not what he had been expecting. It was close again, though. At the end of the session, the top twenty were covered by less than a second.
Qualifying Times (2nd Session - Odd Numbers)
1st No. 5 Enrique Bernoldi, F398 Renault, 1:02.149 2nd No. 21 Jeffrey van Hooydonk, F398 Opel, 1:02.265 3rd No. 27 Paolo Montin, F398 Fiat, 1:02.369 4th No. 3 Sebastien Dumez, F396 Renault, 1:02.379 5th No. 47 Johan Stureson, F397 Opel, 1:02.388 6th No. 1 Christijan Albers, F398 Opel, 1:02.392 7th No. 11 Luciano Burti, F398 Mugen, 1:02.411 8th No. 31 Robert Lechner, F397 Opel, 1:02.412 9th No. 25 Maurizio Mediani, F396 Alfa Romeo, 1:02.420 10th No. 19 Gianluca Calcagni, F397 Opel, 1:02.445 11th No. 49 Ben Collins, F398 Opel, 1:02.522 12th No. 17 Marcel Faessler, MK73 Opel, 1:02.661 13th No. 15 Franck Montagny, MK73 Opel, 1:02.697 14th No. 33 Yudai Igarashi, F397 Mugen, 1:02.704 15th No. 29 Riccardo Ronchi, F398 Fiat, 1:02.822 16th No. 23 Thomas Mutsch, F397 Opel, 1:02.837 17th No. 43 Andrej Pavicevic, F397 Mugen, 1:02.924 18th No. 51 Michael Becker, F398 Opel, 1:02.932 19th No. 35 Steffen Widmann, F397 Opel, 1:03.031 20th No. 9 Davide Uboldi, F398 Mugen, 1:03.140 21st No. 55 Nikolaos Stremmenos, F398 Opel, 1:03.145 22nd No. 7 Enrico Toccacelo, F395 Fiat, 1:03.550 23rd No. 41 Stanislas D'Oultremont, F397 Opel, 1:03.724 24th No. 53 Nicklas Karlsson, F396 Fiat, 1:05.185
Qualifying (2nd Session - Even Numbers):
The big question was could Kolby do it again. And it seemed he could. Although Crevels and Terrien were again the first to top the lists, shortly to be joined by Marc Hynes, the delighted Dane was really flying. Absolute beginner Hoover Orsi (one of the peroxided mob - and very odd it looked too on this very dark Brazilian) was also going well, getting as high up the order as 4th at one point. He would end the session 13th which, for a youngster who had never raced an F3 before, was pretty impressive.
However, the real battle was between David Saelens and Kolby, even though Haberfeld and Leinders both had possession of pole at different stages. It might all have changed in the last few minutes, but with 4 minutes to go and Kolby right up there, Lucas Luhr went off and the session was suddenly a mass of waved yellows and tow trucks. In effect, if anyone had planned on leaving it to the last minutes, they were going to be very disappointed, especially as Saelens also went off as did Ananda Mikola (another unnatural blond), though he managed to skitter back on.
The number of people going off wasn't really surprising. Afterwards, Pierre Kaffer was prepared to tell anyone who would listed that there was only about a 10-centimetre width of track that afforded any grip and that if you failed to find it, it wouldn't matter how hard you tried. Certainly his grid position suggested he knew what he was talking about as he was way back in 14th.
There was also a lot of idle talk about special engines, special tyres, special haircuts, anything but the truth of the matter seemed to be that those who did the most laps did best in the end.
Qualifying Times (2nd Session - Even Numbers)
1st No. 44 Kristian Kolby, F397 Mugen, 1:01.899 2nd No. 4 David Saelens, F396 Renault, 1:01.908 3rd No. 2 Bas Leinders, F398 Opel, 1:02.081 4th No. 24 David Terrien, F396 Opel, 1:02.083 5th No. 20 Donny Crevels, F397 Opel, 1:02.108 6th No. 10 Mario Haberfeld, F398 Mugen, 1:02.293 7th No. 6 Marc Hynes, F398 Renault, 1:02.311 8th No. 52 Lucas Luhr, F397 Opel, 1:02.355 9th No. 32 Ricardo Mauricio, F397 Mugen, 1:02.420 10th No. 50 Thomas Jaeger, MK73 Opel, 1:02.476 11th No. 18 Timo Scheider, MK73 Opel, 1:02.548 12th No. 42 Ananda Mikola, F397 Opel, 1:02.569 13th No. 46 Hoover Orsi, F398 Opel, 1:02.581 14th No. 36 Pierre Kaffer, MK73 Opel, 1:02.763 15th No. 14 Sebastian Bourdais, MK73 Opel, 1:02.831 16th No. 26 Peter Sundberg, F396 Fiat, 1:02.833 17th No. 28 Gabriele Gardel, F398 Fiat, 1:02.998 18th No. 54 Paula Cook, F398 Opel, 1:03.058 19th No. 38 Tiago Monteiro, F396 Fiat, 1:03.063 20th No. 30 Wouter van Eewijk, F397 Opel, 1:03.187 21st No. 22 Johnny Mislijevic, F397 Opel, 1:03.200 22nd No. 56 Dimitris Deverikos, F397 Opel, 1:04.211
No time set: Michele Gasparini - Second session times disallowed for overtaking under yellows.