2002 Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 7, Knockhill, Fife, May 11th/12th Championship Class Race Report - Round 7: Weather: Fine, sunny. James Courtney (Carlin Motorsport) was on pole again for this round and still the ...
2002 Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 7, Knockhill, Fife, May 11th/12th
Championship Class Race Report - Round 7:
Weather: Fine, sunny.
James Courtney (Carlin Motorsport) was on pole again for this round and still the question was being asked. Would he actually get away when the lights turned green or would he join in the race in his own good (or bad) time? The team had been working hard with the Australian between races and had spent considerable time on practicing starts. Now they would find out if their efforts had paid off. And they did - sort of. The lights went to green only to find the Number 1 car creeping forward in anticipation, before managing to stop himself. But he did actually start when he was supposed to. Luckily for Courtney, there was chaos at Duffus Dip almost immediately afterwards and the officials seemed to forget the possible jump-start. Mark Taylor (Manor Motorsport) tried to go up the inside to gain places but ran out of road or speed. His teammate, Richard Antinucci, managed to clout the rear of Mark Mayall (Alan Docking Racing) leading to yellow flags and a Safety Car period before the race had even really got underway. Mayall must have been wondering why he had come to Scotland after the pounding he was taking. It all seemed somewhat unfair, especially after he had gone to the trouble of wearing a kilt for the occasion (though not in the car, we hasten to add).
Three laps later the race finally went live. Ronnie Bremer (Manor Motorsport) didn't appear to make any attempt to challenge Courtney for the lead, which seemed a bit of a shame, and Heikki Kovalainen (Fortec Motorsport) and Bruce Jouanny (Promatecme International) settled in quietly behind them. On the other hand, Bremer has not had the best of starts to the season and maybe he was prepared just to settle for a useful haul of 15 points. If you wanted excitement, you had to look further back. Robbie Kerr (Alan Docking Racing) had Fabio Carbone (Fortec Motorsport) and Mark Taylor (Manor Motorsport) squabbling furiously just behind him. Taylor tried to get Carbone, failed and had to watch as Carbone had at Kerr. However, Carbone couldn't press too hard with Taylor right behind him, and finally something had to give. Initially it was Carbone. Taylor passed him on the run to Duffus, and in the aftermath of that move, the Brazilian managed to get it all wrong, and in the process took Ernani Judice (Promatecme International) out of commission as well. To add insult to injury, Carbone was able to get going again, although at the very tail of the field. All this left Kerr to hold off Taylor, while Jouanny was beginning to catch Bremer and Courtney was quietly driving away from them all. Courtney's teammates were not having quite such a quiet race though. Michael Keohane was already out of the race, Shinya Hosokawa was bottled up between the Menu Motorsport pair of Rob Austin and Giandomenico Brusatin, in a battle for 9th place, and Alan van der Merwe was in 7th but with Robert Dahlgren all over him. It wasn't a good day to be Trevor Carlin in some respects.
Meanwhile Taylor was really catching Kerr, while Kerr was right on Jouanny's exhausts, Finally the temptation to try something - anything - got too much for Taylor and he tried the same move he had used on Carbone earlier. However, Carbone and Kerr are very different animals. As Taylor made a move going in to Duffus Dip, Kerr held to his line, and held it, and held it. This approach left Taylor with absolutely no place to go but the gravel. Unfortunately, he clipped Kerr's car on the way and while Taylor sat in the gravel trap contemplating his race, Kerr limped round to the pits and into a disgruntled retirement. It began to look as if we might run out of cars before we ran out of laps. The order was now Courtney, Bremer, Kovalainen, Jouanny (now on his own), van der Merwe, Dahlgren, Austin, Hosokawa, Brusatin, Matthew Gilmore (Team Avanti), Tom Sisley (Motaworld Racing), Tor Graves (Alan Docking Racing), Andrew Thompson (Motaworld Racing) and Stefano Fabi (Team Avanti) and Carbone trailing round at the very back. That was it, all 15 of them, and we had started with 21 cars...Just to further reduce the competitive runners, Gilmore suddenly dropped back with mechanical problems, though he would limp to the finish a lap down on the leaders.
As the race drew to a close the fight for fifth place also intensified, with van der Merwe holding off Dahlgren and Austin, the Swede in particular making numerous attempts to get by what was now a very wide Dallara. There were a few seconds when it looked as if it might become the fight for fourth or even third place too, as Bremer came out of the uphill section from Taylors looking very slow, and Courtney came by with the engine sounding more than a little rough. These would both turn out to be false alarms, however, and the two of them continued to the flag, untroubled by much at all, Courtney finally taking a win this season. Kovalainen also had a quiet run to a well-deserved 3rd, while Jouanny must have wondered where everyone else had gone as he came home in fourth place. The fifth place battle resolved itself after Austin made a move on the other two only for it to fail, allowing van der Merwe to get a little breathing space in the closing laps. It was just as well since up to that point he seemed to have been holding the others up, and now Hosokawa and Brusatin were up with the group too, wanting to join the party. Alan was relieved when it was all over, as was Courtney. It had been a long time coming but at least the championship leader had finally won a race.