Mechanical misfortune deprives Robert Doornbos of top results in both races
A driveshaft and a transmission failures betray the Dutch driver after brilliant performances
The Chinese International F3 event would have brought better satisfactions to Robert Doornbos, but two unexpected mechanical failures broke his hope for a podium finish, at Macau. With very good results achieved in the British F3 championship (at Spa-Francorchamps and Brands-Hatch - the only 2 races faced by the regular F3 Euro Series driver) with Team Menu Motorsport both Robert and the team left for Macau with high spirits.
The field in Macau was highly rated with the names of Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jnr and Fabio Carbone, Finn Nico Rosberg, Australians Ryan Briscoe and James Courtney (respectively Japanese and European F3 champions this year), Polish Robert Kubica, Italian Paolo Montin (the Macau veteran), Britons Lewis Hamilton, Danny Watts and Rob Austin, Indian Narain Karthikeyan all expected to be pushing for overall honours. Doornbos, at his second year at the Macau Grand Prix, was immediately fast on his Dallara F302/3-Opel Spiess and was able to set the 5th fastest time in the first session of qualifying in front of more experienced drivers. Several spectacular accidents involved some drivers, such as Piquet - Kubica - Viso - Barral, and caused two red flags. In a perfect mental and physical shape, the Dutchman was able to set a series of fast lap times, without committing any mistake, even if he believed he could have gone quicker. A difficult second session of qualify (he was hit and forced into the wall while was lying in 4th position) didn't allow Robert to start from the third row, as he was confident in, but a final 10th position (combined Qualifying time) could anyway be good for Robert. Lined up in the 5th row on the grid Robert made a brilliant start in an exciting 1st leg (race1) of the Macau 50th Grand Prix and he was able to gain immediately 5 positions and then maintain his place, keeping distance from the accidents occurred that imposed the entrance of the Safety Car, at lap 3, when Kaffer hit the wall at San Francisco Bend after driving inside Paolo Montin and Rosberg rolled Parente, with Watts involved in the collision. Despite this thrilling contest Robert could push hard but lost his chance of a podium finish when he was slowed with a broken driveshaft to limp home 14th. "I was driving in my 5th position and I was pushing hard" declared Robert "My car was really well balanced and everything was going in the right direction when in the last lap, 6 curves before the finishing line, I had my driveshaft broken. I was surprised from that because the car had always been perfect, for the all weekend".
The 2nd leg (race2) was equally unlucky for the promising Doornbos. Starting from a bad 14th position on the grid the Dutch driver made one of his speed start and drove a beautiful race setting the 2nd fastest lap time and was 3rd (climbed from 14th to the 3rd place) when he suffered another mechanical failure with the transmission broken, after 12 laps, and was forced to retire. In the final race classification Robert is 16th."I'm really disappointed," said Robert "the team assured me a competitive car and I could demonstrate this in free practice, in qualifying and during the races as well. If I had not had the mechanical failures I would have finished in top position or at podium, maybe. I'm very fast on this car but I can not believe that I had to stop my race because of two mechanical problems". "In the second leg I was pushing hard and when I saw Lapierre and Carbone in front of mine I thought - Well, Robert, you are going to celebrate today.. - but my car betrayed me two laps to go".
Robert Doornbos will be now leaving for Korea for the International F3 race, next Tuesday.
ROBERT DEBUTS on a F3000 car, at Jerez - Last 06th November Robert tested with FIA F3000 Champion Team Arden Motorsport, at Jerez (Spain). At his debut on a 460hp, F3000, car the Dutch driver set the fastest time of the testing day, with a quickest lap time of 1:32.33, in front of Nico Rosberg and 6 other drivers. Robert didn't test on 7th but his time was so good that he could keep the 2nd fastest time of both the Official testing days.
"It was a really amazing and exciting experience for me," said Robert "for the first time, on a F3000 car! I've really enjoyed this test and have been really impressed with the performance of the Arden F3000 car. The grip on new tyres is quite dramatic and I was pleased with the time I was able to achieve. I spent all the day, yesterday, to talk with my engineer and to better understand this car. This morning we also simulated a pit-stop. I would also like to thank Doct. Riccardo Ceccarelli and Formula Medicine (www.formulamedicine.com) for the athletic preparation they have given me because after the test I was absolutely in perfect shape".
I was extremely impressed," said Team Arden boss Christian Horner. "He built up to it and then put it all together on a new set of tyres. He's potentially very good." "Robert did an excellent job coping with the transition from F3 extremely well and recorded a very competitive time".