2002 Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 8, Knockhill, Fife, May 11th/12th Scholarship Class Race Report - Round 8: Weather: Clouding over, cold - rain threatening. After the mayhem that was prevalent in Round 7, most...
2002 Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 8, Knockhill, Fife, May 11th/12th
Scholarship Class Race Report - Round 8:
Weather: Clouding over, cold - rain threatening.
After the mayhem that was prevalent in Round 7, most observers were hoping that the general behaviour in Round 8 would be much better. It seemed unlikely, but optimism is necessary sometimes in this sport, no matter how misplaced!
While David Clark (Team Park) crept slowly forward taking, a leaf out of compatriot James Courtney's book in Round 7, Adam Carroll (Sweeney Racing) made no mistake, streaking into the lead immediately to avoid a repeat of the morning's disappointment. Jesper Carlsen (Essencial Motorsport), meanwhile, was trying to edge out Mohammed Fairuz (Fred Goddard Racing), Carlsen probably made more determined by the fact that he was driving the second Fred Goddard car which had been leased to Essencial for that weekend. Billy Asaro (Sweeney Racing) made another appallingly slow start. To be fair to the Canadian, prior to this year he has only ever had to do rolling starts and this business of having to stop completely before the lights turn green is giving him the odd problem, especially on a grid such as the Knockhill one which slopes upwards.
While all this was going on, Diego Romanini (Performance Racing) and Reck Junior (Essencial Motorsport) had managed to become entangled on the way through McIntyres and were off in the scenery. It wasn't a particularly good start to the race in many ways, and sadly it was symptomatic of what came next. As the field charged through Taylors the two Meritus Racing drivers, Stephen Colbert and Gavin Smith, tripped each other up and Colbert was squeezed onto the grass, allowing Piccione up a place. Team boss Roberto de Costa was seen later looking as if he could have cheerfully murdered the pair of them... Piccione, on the other hand, was a man very much on the move again, having discovered the joys of overtaking in an F3 car in the first race of the day. The next lap he promptly overtook Jesper Carlsen at Taylors, to move into 3rd place. Carlsen was all over the place as he tried to fight back and nearly lost another place to Fairuz, whose overtaking attempt ended when he nearly hit the rear end of the Essencial car. Carlsen ignored the assault and set about trying to come back at Piccione, leaving Karun Chandhok (T-Sport) as an interested observer and possible beneficiary if it all went wrong in front of him.
Meanwhile, a deeply unhappy Colbert pitted to get the first lap damage remedied, while his team-mate Smith continued blithely on in second place, even though he was no longer in possession of a full complement of front wings and his Dallara seemed to be shedding bits of bodywork. It was beginning to look academic anyway as the Safety Car now had to be scrambled to clear away the Italian/Brazilian tangle from lap 1. Asaro took advantage of the situation to pit for a new front nose as his was now "very chewed" looking! He would stay in the pits a long time, unlike Colbert who managed to get out a lap down in the middle of the field. The pits remained a busy place even with Colbert gone as Clark nipped in for new rear tyres, getting back out just ahead of the Safety Car, and Asaro sat there having the front wheels replaced.
The order was thus Carroll, Smith, Piccione, Carlsen, Fairuz, Chandhok, Harold Primat (Diamond Racing), Justin Sherwood (Performance Racing), Clark and Colbert. When the Safety Car finally pulled in and racing could resume, Carroll again made no mistake and was able to open up a gap even before the lap concluded. Behind him, a fired up Piccione was setting about Smith, who was struggling with the Dallara's handling. It shouldn't have been difficult to pass a car with only half a front wing, but Smith was not about to give up second place to anyone without a fight. Carlsen was also now joining in the fight too, despite having the attentions of Fairuz to deal with. It was all getting rather fraught, especially for Clivio's father who was watching with barely concealed agitation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it suddenly all went pear-shaped when Piccione spun, just missing Fairuz. With the Monegasque now stranded on the outside of the Chicane, it was starting to look as if the Safety Car might have to come out again. Meanwhile, Smith pulled into the pits and Carlsen was now 2nd with Fairuz still stuck to him like glue. In addition, we seemed to be running out of cars with only 9 runners still circulating, after Asaro finally quit when the Dallara's handling became too extreme to cope with.
With Carroll streaking off into the distance, the main interest lay in two separate battles. The one for second place saw Carlsen clinging on for dear life, despite some very lurid moments, while Fairuz tried everything he could to get by. For 7th place, Sherwood was having an equally hard time with Clark harassing him, their two cars looking more like an 8-wheeler than two four wheeled Dallaras. Just for good measure, Colbert was busy trying to unlap himself by getting past Chandhok, who may not have realised that the Meritus driver was a lap back. Alternatively he may simply have been suffering from the collective madness that seemed to have overcome them all from the moment they crossed the border into Scotland. With three laps to go, the Clark/Sherwood battle finally resolved itself in Clark's favour, though he had been made to work very hard to find his way through. Meanwhile, Carlsen was about to suffer the worst blow of his weekend. With two laps to go, and with Fairuz still looming in his mirrors, the Renault-Sodemo power unit ground to a halt and all the Dane could do was limp to the side of the track and watch as Fairuz coasted round to snatch second place away from him. Afterwards, there was no trace of Carlsen, the suspicion being that he had already left for the nearest border! While Carroll cruised to a relatively untroubled victory, all of this promoted Chandhok to 3rd and left Harold Primat to come home a bemused but delighted 4th. Clark, Sherwood, Colbert and Smith were the only remaining classified runners at the end of a race of attrition. It doesn't get much weirder.