SENSATIONAL DRIVE NETS BRATT DESERVED BARCELONA TOP FIVE Banbury's Will Bratt served up one of the most sensational performances of his motor racing career at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona this afternoon, Saturday, 1st November, during...
SENSATIONAL DRIVE NETS BRATT DESERVED BARCELONA TOP FIVE
Banbury's Will Bratt served up one of the most sensational performances of his motor racing career at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona this afternoon, Saturday, 1st November, during round 16 of the 2008 FIAT Spanish Formula 3 Championship.
Starting qualifying with no experience of the track, with the exception of just four laps during the second of Friday's test sessions, the 20-year-old racer managed to qualify his EmiliodeVillota.com Motorsport-run car a highly creditable ninth on the grid and then went on to finish an outstanding fifth in the race in tricky wet conditions.
"I've never been so happy with a fifth place before!", said Will after this afternoon's race, "Qualifying inside the top 10 was great considering I hadn't been able to learn the circuit on Friday. To then come through into fifth in the race was a terrific result for us and we're very happy to have been so competitive with such limited running.
"When I was up into sixth place I thought about staying there to get pole position on the reversed grid for Sunday's race but (Bruno) Mendez started putting me under pressure so I pushed to get past (Stefano) Bizzarri for fifth. Starting second on the grid for tomorrow's race is obviously good though, I'm really looking forward to it."
As alluded to above, Will's weekend didn't get off to the smoothest of starts when he was forced to miss the first of yesterday's test sessions. Arriving at the track in time for session two, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star then only had the benefit of four laps in total during a 30-minute outing blighted by four stoppages.
While his Spanish F3 rivals all had experience of the Circuit de Catalunya, Will headed into this morning's qualifying session still with no real knowledge of the track so to achieve the ninth fastest time of 2m 00.992 seconds (138.504 km/h) was a great result.
At the start of today's 16-lap encounter, the Oxon racer made a good getaway and gained two places on the opening lap to move into seventh position before climbing into the top six on lap two.
Remaining in sixth until lap seven, he then lost a position to Italian driver Stefano Bizzarri but almost immediately hit back to return into the top six at the expense of Marcos Martinez Ucha, the latter also having been passed by Bizzarri.
Over the next seven laps, Will was happy to maintain sixth place -- and a potential pole position start for Sunday's race under the reverse grid format employed by the FIAT Spanish F3 Championship -- but as he came under more pressure from Bruno Mendez, the British star pushed and passed Bizzarri for fifth on the penultimate lap.
As a measure of his ever-improving pace throughout the day, Will posted his quickest lap of round 16 on the final tour with a time of 1m 44.883 seconds (159.779 km/h), the fourth fastest lap of the entire race.
"Having to use qualifying to properly learn the track was always going to make today very difficult so we're all delighted with the result", said Will, "We know the final race of the year will be tough tomorrow and while we're going in with no expectations, it would be incredible if we're able to fight for our first Formula 3 win."
Ninth in the championship heading into the weekend, today's result sees Will move into eighth position on 53 points and with a very realistic opportunity of potentially concluding the season inside the top five in the driver standings.
The final race of the 2008 FIAT Spanish Formula 3 Championship, round 17, will take place tomorrow, Sunday, 2nd November, at approximately 13.45 (local time).