GP F3 of Macau: Laurens Vanthoor fifth in the pre-final
MACAU. The 56th GP of Macau, the annual high mass for the world's top F3 drivers, had up until the start of the final run been brilliant for Laurens Vanthoor. "I was able to maintain myself amongst the top-5, top-6 consistently", the young driver from Belgian Limburg commented. "In the pre-final I managed fifth place, which meant great hopes for the final, but unfortunately just after the start I was brutally hit by the Australian Ricciardo, whereby my wheel and the car's suspension were damaged and following that the best I could achieve was a 13th place. I'm terribly disappointed, but next year I'll be back to seek my revenge."
For Vanthoor the free practice and qualifying sessions, apart from a skid, were perfect, and the reigning German F3 champion was permanently up amongst the front runners. "I immediately got the hang of the track and able to maintain myself up front, ideal for building up my confidence. Here in Macau I was able to prove that I deserved my place amongst the top, which I did, notwithstanding the fact that I'm still the youngest competitor. With all thanks to Signature, because right from our first contact my new team were highly professional, and a pleasure to work with." The outcome was a sixth place on the grid for the pre-final on Saturday, whereby he confirmed his performances put in during the free practice and qualifying sessions.
On Saturday the 29 F3 single-seaters on the grid set off for 10 laps and Laurens Vanthoor immediately confirmed his form of the two previous days. At the wheel of his Signature Dallara VW he swiftly gained a place working his way through towards the top-5, "but without taking too many risks it was impossible to climb on up any higher. All the same the top-5 is great and the result proved that we had carried out our work perfectly. The final is looking promising. I truly believed in a top-5 spot, but in reality my ambition was to achieve a podium place."
"I'm truly disappointed", were Laurens Vanthoor words after the finish in Macau, the former Portuguese trading post. "I was well away, immediately gained a place, but then that Riccardio crashed into my car, without any cause or reason. Outcome: my suspension and wheel were damaged and I can count myself lucky to have been able to reach the pit-lane. Thanks to a red flag caused by... Riccardio, I was still able to restart, the team having pulled off a difficult feat in a few minutes, but I couldn't achieve anything better than a 13th place. I still managed to overtake a few competitors, but especially in the fast bends I could feel that the car was pretty unstable. Obviously all down to that earlier accident. Absolutely frustrating--... Up until the accident everything was running smoothly and I hadn't stolen my place here up front. But OK, we need to close this chapter as soon as possible and start preparing for 2010."