Kimball victorious again at Thruxton

At the start of the second race of the day, the grid actually formed up without problems, which was something of a miracle given what happened in some of the other races. It was short a driver, however, because Salvador Duran was in...

At the start of the second race of the day, the grid actually formed up without problems, which was something of a miracle given what happened in some of the other races. It was short a driver, however, because Salvador Duran was in the pit lane with his team, P1 Motorsport, swarming all over his Lola. The engine cover was off, and it was all looking rather desperate in there. Everyone else got out of the pit lane in time, and soon the field was lined up and ready to go, with Duran also ready to set off, but trapped in the closed pitlane. He would get to set off after everyone else had gone, and would probably be worth watching as he tried to hack his way back into contention.

At the front of the grid, Mike Conway (Fortec Motorsport) got a good start, but it didn't help him too much, because the order into the Complex was pretty much what it had been at the start, with Charlie Kimball leading from Alvaro Parente and Christian Bakkerud in a Carlin Motorsport 1-2-3. However, by the time they got to the Chicane for the first time, Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing) had squeezed Bakkerud out and was 3rd. In the National Class, Barton Mawer (T-Sport) again made a great getaway, while one of the stars of Round 9, Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing) proved sluggish in the extreme. He wasn't quite as slow off the mark as Nick Jones (Team SWR), the American Welshman creeping round at the rear of the field with a broken output shaft. He limped into the pits and out of contention. At least he got that far. Coming into the Chicane for the first time, Danilo Dirani (P1 Motorsport) got it all sideways, and was occupying an awful lot of tarmac when Bruno Senna (Double R Racing) turned up hoping to occupy the same bit of track. Clearly two into one won't go, and Senna ended up stuck behind the polystyrene breeze blocks, while Dirani dragged the Lola back to his pit garage. P1 Motorsport's Roly Vincini was later seen with his hands round Senna's throat, though this appeared to be in jest rather than for real. The result was a Safety Car period before we'd really got going.

And so, as the dust settled behind the Safety Car, Kimball took up position, just ahead of Parente, Asmer, Bakkerud, Tim Bridgman (Hitech Racing), Ryan Lewis (T-Sport), Conway, Daniel Clarke (Double R Racing) and James Walker (Fortec Motorsport). 11th was Steven Kane (Promatecme F3), ahead of Mawer, Stephen Jelley (Menu Motorsport), Charlie Hollings (Promatecme F3), Juho Annala (Alan Docking Racing), Ronayne O'Mahony, Josh Fisher (Team SWR), Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing), Keiko Ihara and Ricardo Teixeira (Carlin Motorsport). 21st was Cheong Lou Meng (Edenbridge Racing) and Duran, who looked frustrated at not being able to start passing people yet, but who had at least managed to catch up with the field with the minimum of effort, thanks to the Safety Car. It took a couple of laps to sort out the Brazilian mess, but it was eventually cleared away, along with the plastic barrier that had trapped Senna. They'd been shunted out that far to catch errant Ginettas, and seemingly no one had moved them back again.

Anyway, with Senna safely in the public area and out of the way (and coincidentally trapped signing autographs for all and sundry), the race went live again. As the Safety Car pulled in, Kimball brought the field almost to a halt, and then powered his way over the start/finish line and set off into the distance, just as he had in the morning. Just behind him, Parente lost his second place to Asmer, who went round the outside when he realized the Portuguese driver was concentrating on defending the inside line. That let Asmer through. Bridgman, seeing what he thought was a chance, had already overtaken Bakkerud and now made a similar attempt to take Parente at the Chicane. It was a wildly over-optimistic move, and he really shouldn't even have thought about it, let alone attempted it. However, once committed there was nothing that could be done to stop the inevitable accident. Parente was struck amidships by the Hitech driver, and spun out of the points. Both of them got going again, but by that stage they were too far back to recover much ground. Asmer couldn't quite believe what happened: "I saw them about to crash, but didn't see what happened. They just never came out of the Chicane." Equally inevitably, there would be a visit to the Clerk of the Course's office for Bridgman, which might have been satisfying, but would do little to restore Parente's potential points.

The incident benefited Bakkerud, who inherited 3rd place and hung onto it, although he had a few interesting moments later in the race. With Kimball streaking ahead in an impressive manner, most people were looking further down the field for their entertainment. This came partly from seeing what Bridgman could do to recover ground, having dropped himself to last, as well as from keeping an eye on Parente, who was attempting to at least get a point for fastest lap, if he could salvage nothing else from this race. Duran was just ahead of him, the Mexican on his own recovery drive, but he didn't make an issue of it, and Parente got through easily enough. Just to help him along a bit, one of the National Class runners, Fisher, had to make a lightning quick pit stop on lap 7 when a visor tear- off got sucked into the air-box of his Dallara. He notified the team, and they were ready and waiting when he arrived in the pit lane, removing the offending object and sending Josh on his way very rapidly. Of course, on such a short track, he was last by the time he rejoined, and was another driver who had to attempt to climb back up the order as soon as possible. There was a lot of it about. must have been the unaccustomed sunshine going to their heads.

Kimball continued at unabated speed at the front, opening up a gap that Asmer could do nothing at all about. Bakkerud was still 3rd, while Clarke was going well considering how difficult qualifying had been for him and Senna (the only comment on Double R Racing's progress came from the team boss and cannot be repeated here as none of it was less than profane). He'd had a relatively quiet time in the early laps, but things were about to get heated, when Lewis caught up with him, bringing Conway with him. While Parente was throwing his Dallara sideways through the Chicane, a little ahead of him, Lewis and Conway were repeatedly going side by side. Lewis obviously decided he'd had enough of that, and he managed to pass Clarke, eventually moving into a position where he could chase down Bakkerud. That left Conway stuck behind Clarke, who wasn't keen to lose another place. He set about defending himself as best he could, though Conway came close to getting through more than once, including a pretty hair-raising manoeuvre at the Complex, which didn't come off, and a lap from the end one at the Chicane that did. However, the Clerk of the Course thought otherwise, and quite rightly too. Conway snatched 5th from Clarke by the simple expedient of cutting out the Chicane altogether. As Clarke had been guilty of a similar offence in the morning, this caused some muttering along the lines of "live by the sword, die by the sword," though the crucial difference was that Clarke gained no advantage, whereas Conway did. He would be docked 3 second afterwards, thus returning him to 6th place, where he'd been before the offence was committed.

Ahead of that battle, Bakkerud was holding off Lewis like a seasoned veteran rather than a rookie fresh out of Formula BMW. The 3rd podium place would be his; on that he was determined. And so it was, though Kimball took his lap record from him after less than a day. He would mock grumble about it all through the press conference, clearly taking a delight in attempting to provoke Kimball into a mock feud. He'd had a relatively quiet afternoon, and was bouncing with energy in the wake of his second podium of the day. "It was quite a lonely race. I wasn't gaining on Asmer, so I just relaxed and took it easy, tried not to make any mistakes and to keep Lewis at bay. It was quite a boring race really, but I'll try to catch up with Charlie next time, and take his lap record!"

At the end of the race, Kimball was a very happy young man, particularly as what he'd hoped to achieve had happened to plan: "That was the plan of course, to get a good start, open up a gap and lay down some really fast laps. I used my rolling start experience in the States to get a good start after the Safety Car and just hoped no one else could get a quicker start. I think it was the easier car combined with the circuit. I've got something easier to drive now, which is also quicker, so I'm now looking forward to the Marlboro Masters (the international F3 meeting at Zandvoort next month)." Just to add to his pleasure, he was awarded the Driver of the Meeting trophy, and also had the new lap record to his name.

With Parente having been mugged by Bridgman, and consequently scoring precisely zero points in this round, Asmer was now the series leader, which he'd suggested could be achieved by repeatedly finishing 2nd. It seemed he was right. "I'm leading the championship now! I was going for a win, but I had trouble getting past Parente. After that I was flat out on every lap, but Charlie just kept pulling away. I couldn't go any faster; we need to work to get more speed."

In 4th place was Lewis, with Clarke reinstated to 5th, ahead of Conway, Kane, Walker and National Class winner Mawer 9th overall and very pleased to get a result that might help him towards his goal of finding the budget needed to complete the season. "That race was a lot easier than the first one. I had the pole and there were two Class A cars between me and Charlie Hollings on the grid, which helped. They're great guys in the team and this is a reward for them for the effort they've been putting in. There's things going on back home, so I'm OK for the next couple of races, but I need to raise the finance for the rest of the season, and this will help." 10th was Jelley, with O'Mahony claiming the final Championship Class point. Hollings was 12th, and 2nd in the National Class, while Parente just missed out on a point. Next was Annala, from Bridgman, Duran, Kennard, Ihara, Teixeira, and Cheong, the latter finishing a race without being lapped for the first time this season. Fisher was 21st and the last finisher.

Fastest laps went to Kimball and Mawer.

Next Races: Rounds 11 & 12, Castle Combe, Wiltshire, June 25th/26th, 2005

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About this article
Series BF3
Drivers Alan Docking , Charlie Kimball , Ricardo Teixeira , Mike Conway , Salvador Duran , Alvaro Parente , James Walker , Barton Mawer , Danilo Dirani , Ryan Lewis , Bruno Senna , Christian Bakkerud , Daniel Clarke , Juho Annala , John Kennard , Charlie Hollings
Teams Carlin