Thompson fights back for fourth in season-finale Irish racing driver Gary Thompson overcame a challenging final weekend of his rookie season in the Japanese F3 Championship with a fighting fourth-place finish to protect his top-five overall ...
Thompson fights back for fourth in season-finale
Irish racing driver Gary Thompson overcame a challenging final weekend of his rookie season in the Japanese F3 Championship with a fighting fourth-place finish to protect his top-five overall position in the final National Class standings.
The Cebu Pacific Air-backed teenager endured a tough time in the first part of the weekend at Auto Polis, as car problems in free practice put the Dubliner on the back foot ahead of qualifying, but still produced feisty performances in the weekend's two races.
After working hard with his Achievement by KCMG Racing team after practice, Thompson's Aviation Display-liveried Dallara F306 showed some improvement in Q1 but his cause was hampered when he ran wide while pushing hard and lost the end of the session after clipping the tyre wall and damaging his car, leaving him eight on the grid for race one.
Q2 was even worse as, with only ten minutes between sessions, the 18-year-old had to sit out the start as the team repaired the earlier damage, before eventually managing just a single flying lap to leave him eighth once more.
Thompson's luck seemed to be changing in race 1 on Saturday however when the 2009 Formula BMW Pacific Vice Champion made an amazing start to run fourth into turn 2. Unfortunately, his hopes of a podium finish were then ended when he was taken out by an over-ambitious move from a rival behind.
To make matters worse, Thompson had to change a tyre, damaged in the incident, ahead of race 2 on Sunday and was therefore demoted to the very back of the grid as a penalty.
He bounced back in splendid fashion though with a fine drive through-the-field. Despite taking a cautious approach at the start to avoid any turn 1 incidents, Thompson regularly picked up places throughout the 20-lap event, coming on stronger as the race went on and finishing a fine fourth in class, just 0.5 seconds from a podium spot.
As well as demonstrating Thompson's race-craft once more, the result also ensured that he held on to his fifth place in the final standings of the ultra-competitive Japanese F3 Championship National Class.
Gary Thompson: "I think that we have to be happy with the weekend. We had a few issues in practice and qualifying but I feel as though we came back well from them. A podium was a definite possibility in race 1 had we not been taken out and we were also only a lap or 2 away from being able to get 3rd in race 2.
"Overall I think it was a very positive year for us. I have certainly learned a lot in my rookie year of F3 and should be able to come back stronger next year!
"We'll now see what happens over the winter and have a look at what we can put into place for 2011. In the meantime my management team have arranged that I will race in the re- established Korean Superprix at the end of November which will be held on the new Korean GP circuit."