Triple 2's For Kimball in Italy American Charlie Kimball continued his success in the British Formula 3 International Series this past weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, in Italy. He finished an impressive second in Rounds 13 and 14...
Triple 2's For Kimball in Italy
American Charlie Kimball continued his success in the British Formula 3 International Series this past weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, in Italy. He finished an impressive second in Rounds 13 and 14 as well as rescheduled Round 3. These solid results vaulted the Californian rookie from seventh to second in the Championship standings. His underlying speed was highlighted when Kimball's qualifying performances placed him first and second on the grid for Races 1 and 2. The third race was one of the rescheduled races from the cancelled Spa rounds where Kimball had qualified 6th.
Despite being in Italy, qualifying for Race One began in typical British conditions - heavy rain and a soaked circuit but after being fastest in Friday practice, the American was quietly confident. Kimball made the best of his wet weather tires and the changing track conditions to set the fastest lap time. When the second qualifying session began three hours later, the track had dried under glorious sunshine. The Carlin motorsport driver once again showed his speed by holding provisional pole for most of the session only to be pipped by his teammate and Championship leader Alvaro Parente, in the closing minutes of the session.
Kimball spoke about both sessions in the brief respite before the first of Saturday's two races, "Pole for Race One was very special. People always say that American drivers aren't usually good in the wet, but I proved them wrong! I missed the window on my new tires in the second qualifying and as a result, I am off-pole. Still, front row grid spots in both races at an epic circuit like Monza are promising for solid finishes."
In Race 1, the American rookie made a good start but was beaten into the first corner by teammate Parente. Kimball proceeded to shadow the Portugese driver for the first ten laps, and while the Californian set fastest lap, the two Carlin teammates extended a ten-second lead over the chasing pack. With two laps to go, Kimball used his Formula Ford racing knowledge to draft past Parente on the front straight. Over the next two laps, the lead would change between them four times. As Kimball was lining Parente up for a last lap-last corner pass, he made a small mistake and dropped two wheels into the gravel, ruining his chances for the win but still allowing a solid second place podium finish.
The grin on his face was proof of how much he enjoyed the race. "That was the best race I have had for a long time. Alvaro and I went at it hammer-and-tong for two whole laps and we never touched each other," beamed Kimball. "I am disappointed not to have won, but the points for second place and fastest lap are invaluable in the Championship."
Race 2 was to be much like the first. Kimball once again followed Parente into the first corner and shadowed him for the first seven laps. Then the American missed a downshift into the first chicane and Parente opened a small gap. That gap remained until the end of the race as both Kimball and Parente ran lap times nearly identical to each others, with Parente getting fastest lap of the race by a mere .06 of a second.
Kimball spoke of the mistake, "I just missed a downshift and Alvaro got a gap. I was driving one hundred percent to catch him, but he was at a hundred percent as well. The 3 years of Formula 3 experience Alvaro has means he doesn't make small learning mistakes like that."
The Calavo sponsored driver lined up sixth on the grid for the rescheduled third race and Kimball was looking forward to putting his racing knowledge to good use. His uncanny ability to avoid incidents placed him second at the end of the first lap. He was behind Tim Bridgman who had caused a first lap incident and was given a drive-through penalty flag. Bridgman continued to ignore the penalty and slowed Kimball into the chasing pack. The Californian was soon swamped by his competitors but fought his way back through to hold second position. However these skirmishes allowed race leader Parente, who had recovered from a first lap spin, to gain a good three seconds advantage. Between the two Carlin drivers was the disqualified car of Bridgman who continued to ignore the officials as well as his team's command to stop in the pit lane. Kimball could not risk being taken out of the race by the disqualified Bridgman and with a big gap back to third, brought the car home in the middle of a Carlin motorsport 1-2-3.
Kimball commented about the irregularities of the race in the press conference. "I have to blame Tim for losing me that race. He was being shown the black flag and blatantly ignoring it. But I know I can trust the officials to punish him accordingly," commented Kimball. "On a brighter note, I am ecstatic to have rewarded the team with a 1-2-3! They work so hard and do such a good job. I also can't be too displeased that I am now second in the points Championship, a fair 11 points ahead of third."
Kimball will now return to California for two weeks of training and relaxation. He will resume his assault on the Championship lead when the series returns to the UK at the famous Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, August 13-14, 2005.