Strong Performance for Kimball in Euroseries Finale Charlie Kimball closed out his 2006 Formula 3 Euroseries campaign with another strong points-scoring weekend at the German circuit of Hockenheim, this past weekend, October 27-29, 2006. He ...
Strong Performance for Kimball in Euroseries Finale
Charlie Kimball closed out his 2006 Formula 3 Euroseries campaign with another strong points-scoring weekend at the German circuit of Hockenheim, this past weekend, October 27-29, 2006. He qualified in 10th position and converted that into a points scoring 6th place in Saturday's Race 1. After the inverted grid rule placed Kimball 3rd for Race 2, he made a great start and took second before the first corner. As he was challenging, Kimball got caught out as race leader Summerton braked early, resulting in Kimball retiring with bent suspension. Kimball's impressive second half of the Championship meant he finished 11th in points, exceptional considering he didn't score a point until mid-season.
The race weekend didn't start as planned as Kimball was 17th in the Free Practice session. The session was held in wet conditions and his pace was hampered by a team decision to run old rain tires. These didn't give Kimball as much grip as new rain tires and, as a result, his times weren't competitive. However, the qualifying session was held in dry, sunny conditions so the tire issue was moot. Kimball made the most of the full half-hour session and on his last flying lap, the American put a lap in good enough for 10th on the grid. Qualifying was so tight that another tenth of a second quicker and he would have been 7th on the grid for Race 1.
Kimball spoke after qualifying, "The qualifying session was very difficult as the track was still damp in a couple places and the sun was right in my eyes through the fastest corner on the circuit! Still I am happy with tenth, I am sure I can score points from there."
Race 1 saw the Californian make a great start and move up to 8th after the second corner. Then disaster nearly struck as Japanese driver Kazuki Nakajima ran into Kimball at the Turn 3 hairpin. It was a sizeable impact and resulted in a smashed sidepod, a bent exhaust and a damaged floor; the impact bent Nakajima's suspension, putting him out of the race. However, none of the Kimball's suspension was damaged and he pressed on, unaware of the full extent of the damage. Kimball was promoted to 6th when both Paul DiResta and Giedo Van Der Garde were penalized for jumping the start. Kimball soon closed in on Kohei Hirate despite the damage and pressured Hirate all the way to the checkered flag, finishing only half a second behind the Japanese.
"I had no idea the damage was so extensive!" Kimball said afterwards. "I could see the tire flugle moving around in the mirror, so I knew it wasn't perfect, but I wasn't going to give up on catching Kohei."
The 21-year-old's final race in the Euroseries on Sunday began brilliantly with an incredible start that launched him from his third place grid position to an immediate second. After looking at the data, the start time from 0-100 km/h was 2.85 seconds, the best start anyone at Signature made all season. It was also his second sub 2.9 second start of the race weekend. Kimball challenged for the lead into the hairpin on the first lap, but fellow American Jonathon Summerton defended the position well. As the two cars approached the hairpin for the second time, Summerton began his braking four car lengths earlier than normal and Kimball tried to take evasive action, but couldn't avoid contact. After the contact, Kimball returned to the pitlane, but was forced to retire as the damage to the suspension was too extensive.
Kimball was gutted by the result, "That was not the way I had envisioned the last race of the season going. I knew I was a lot faster than Jonathon, but his cautious braking really surprised me. Fortunately, I was able to hit him slightly off-center, buckling my suspension but avoiding punting him into a spin. I would have really liked to have rewarded the team for all their hard work this year with a podium in the last race. We have come so far since the first race at Hockenheim in April of this year."
Kimball continues discussions with several European teams regarding his 2007 racing program, as well as preparing for what could be his final Formula 3 race, the 53rd Macau Grand Prix, November 16-19, 2006. He is extremely excited to compete for his second time at one of the world's most demanding street circuits.