2002 Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 7, Knockhill, Fife, May 11th/12th Scholarship Class Race Report - Round 7: Weather: Sunny, warm. Heat haze over the track. The main thing of note with this race was that Clivio...
2002 Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 7, Knockhill, Fife, May 11th/12th
Scholarship Class Race Report - Round 7:
Weather: Sunny, warm. Heat haze over the track.
The main thing of note with this race was that Clivio Piccione (T-Sport) would have to start from the back of the grid, having failed to set any time in qualifying. Now that his engine problems had been remedied, he was determined to work his way forwards, and it looked likely to make for an entertaining drive.
As the lights turned green things got messy. Billy Asaro (Sweeney Racing) stalled on the grid and there was something of a chain reaction. Just behind him, Jesper Carlsen (Essential Motorsport) was forced to take avoiding action, which meant he forced Justin Sherwood (Performance Racing) to run out of track. Carlsen scrabbled back on, while Asaro finally managed to get going to drive away in last place and Sherwood was out of the race before he could reach the first corner. In front, the Meritus pair of Stephen Colbert and Gavin Smith had both made the most of their front row positions and got away ahead of Adam Carroll (Sweeney Racing), who was doing his best to pass Smith and get to the front if he could. As the field reached the Chicane, Asaro, who was clearly keen to make up places after the embarrassment of everyone else driving away from him, was forced to go very wide to avoid Carlsen and Mohammed Fairuz (Fred Goddard Racing). In all the chaos, however, no one seemed to notice Piccione, who had already gained four places by the end of the first lap and was looking to progress further still.
The other driver looking to progress was Carroll, who was locking up alarmingly behind Smith in his efforts to pressure the Meritus driver into a mistake. It was turning into a bit of a weird race for the Sweeney drivers, with Adam not in his accustomed lead, and Billy stuck behind Diego Romanini (Performance Racing). It didn't take Asaro long to dispatch the Italian, however, and Romanini soon found himself with Harold Primat (Diamond Racing) right behind him and looking for a way past. Piccione, meanwhile, had charged through to 6th place and was now breathing down Karun Chandhok's neck, sizing up his teammate for a way through. Piccione had already set the fastest lap of the race (though Colbert would later go faster) and he was now all over the back of the black and yellow T-Sport Dallara of Chandhok. Needless to say, the Indian driver was not at all keen to let his teammate through and the ensuing battle was highly entertaining.
At the back of the field, Primat finally found his way past Romanini, but then could not shake him off, and the two of them were joined by Reck Junior (Junior Reck? Who knows? We're still looking for a Portuguese speaker to interpret whatever explanation we get) in his Essencial Motorsport car. There was an equally absorbing battle raging at the front of the field too, with Smith harassing Colbert, but also having to fend off Carroll to protect his second place. Almost inevitably it all went wrong. Smith lost control after bouncing off the kerbs at the Chicane and ended up stuck in the middle of the track, just missing taking Carroll with him. By some sort of miracle the rest of the field managed to avoid him. The result was a brief Safety Car period, during which Smith managed to get going again. By the time the field came round behind the Safety Car, the obstruction was no longer there. The Safety Car stayed out for one more lap before pulling in and letting the race recommence. This meant that Colbert, who had only had his teammate to worry about, now had his mirrors full of the green and white car of Carroll. Now he was going to have to really work hard to take his first win. Carroll was on the attack from the minute the Safety Car pulled off, setting about Colbert as the two of them streaked towards Duffus Dip. Colbert wasn't having any of it as Carroll tried the outside line. As they exited Duffus, Carroll tried again but Colbert was not about to give ground, and Carroll still couldn't make it stick.
Meanwhile, Piccione gained another place to move up to 4th when Chandhok went off exactly where Smith had, but despite nearly being joined by David Clark (Team Park) he was able to get going again, albeit in last place. If Clivio thought this would make things any easier for him, he was wrong. Clark had a sniff of a podium place now, and he wanted to try and take it. He made an attempt to pick off Piccione at Taylors, only to get the door slammed firmly in his face as Piccione set off in pursuit of Fairuz. While Chandhok was now an annoyed presence stuck behind Romanini, Piccione was setting himself up to have a go at Fairuz. He tried to go round the outside of the Malaysian at the Chicane, then dived for the inside and having sold him a Formula Ford style dummy he was through into third place. Which was much better than he could have hoped for when he lined up right at the back.
At the very front Carroll was getting right up close to Colbert again, although catching your opponent is one thing here, but passing is quite another matter. Still, you can always hope to force a mistake and that was what Carroll was clearly hoping for now. Carroll continued to attack whenever the opportunity arose, but it was no use in the end. The victory was Colbert's and he was utterly delighted, though he looked like a man who had been made to work very hard for it.
Further back, just to prove that the incidents were still not over for the day, Romanini managed to fall off at the Hairpin and there was no sign of Chandhok. This was getting silly; and in the midst of it all Reck was shown the driving standards flag for corner cutting. Meanwhile, the trio of Clark, Carlsen and Asaro could consider themselves pretty fortunate not to get shown the black flag. As they scrambled through Taylors, fighting furiously for fifth place, they seemed unaware of the yellows being waved there. Having managed to trip each other up there, Asaro passed Carlsen under the yellows, Carlsen got him back, was retaken and Clark passed both of them to grab fifth back and keep it until the end of the race. It looked more like a Formula Ford race than a Formula Three race, and some of it was a little questionable. It also seemed to set the tone for the rest of the day, which was a real shame.