Podium finishes in Pau for Carlin Motorsport Aldershot (UK) 6 June 2006. The fifth and sixth rounds of the British F3 series marked an historical event when the British F3 Championship headed to Pau in the South of France for the first time.
Podium finishes in Pau for Carlin Motorsport
Aldershot (UK) 6 June 2006. The fifth and sixth rounds of the British F3 series marked an historical event when the British F3 Championship headed to Pau in the South of France for the first time. Other non-championship F3 events have taken place previously at this narrow and exciting street circuit but none of the present racing drivers had had the pleasure of taking to the streets of Pau in their single-seater F3 machines until now. Carlin Motorsport's Christian Bakkerud, Oliver Jarvis and Maro Engel went down one week early to compete in the historic race week-end on the same circuit to learn the track layout and put the Carlin team ahead of their competitors.
Bakkerud kicked off the F3 weekend with a third position in the first qualifying followed by team mate Engel in fifth, Jarvis in sixth and Japanese Keiko Ihara in twenty-sixth having struggled with the balance of her car. The second qualifying saw Bakkerud involved in an accident that was no fault of his own which put him right at the back of the second race grid. Engel managed a P4 and Jarvis a P6 with Ihara struggling to come to terms with the difficult circuit and ending up twenty-seventh on the grid after a minor accident.
In front of an estimated 50,000 crowd, all four Carlin drivers managed to score points in the races leaving Engel in a shared third in the championship with team mate Jarvis and Danish young gun Bakkerud down in seventh after having lost out on valuable points in the first race when very well placed but managing to redeem two points in the second. Although Ihara had a difficult weekend, she still managed to add one point to her tally by staying on track and finishing race one.
Car no 1. Christian Bakkerud, Race 1 - P DNF, Race 2 - P 10
I felt disappointed but philosophical after the first race, which would effectively have been a second place for me in the British F3 Championship given that the race winner was the non-points-scoring guest driver Romain Grosjean (Signature Plus Team). It seemed safe, but nothing is ever safe on a track like this and I could feel something go in the middle of the race and suddenly I had to hold the steering wheel at 15 degrees to the left. I'm told the car looked completely wrong from the outside. Coming into the Foch chicane on the next lap it just wouldn't turn right. It felt a bit like a flat tyre, but it was actually the suspension giving way and I just went straight into the barrier. I should have had three second places in the series by now and be third in the championship, but I've only got one of them because of these freak accidents. But at least we know we're right up there and on the pace. I qualified right behind the championship leader Mike Conway so we're still pretty quick. With no lap time on the board for the second race I had to start way down in 20th position. I tried to drive a sensible race through and managed a tenth place and got two points. I certainly hope my luck will change for the next round at Mondello Park!
Car no 2. Oliver Jarvis, Race 1 - P 4, Race 2 - P 5
In the first qualifying I damaged my car but still managed to end up sixth which isn't bad considering I only managed four or five quick laps. It's a little disappointing as I would have liked to have been higher up but my error prevented this. Qualifying two was equally difficult with quite a few red flags and again I finished sixth which was unfortunate as I had hoped for a better starting position in race two. For me, both races this weekend were pretty much a case of picking up the pieces from qualifying and making sure I brought the car home in one piece. At this stage of the season it's important to score points in every round and with all the traffic on this circuit, it was easy to make a mistake.
Car no 11 Keiko Ihara, Race 1 - P 16, Race 2 - DNF
I'm clearly very pleased with my second point of the season that I picked up in the first race and keeping in mind that we have only just done three race events so far. However, this weekend has been frustrating for me. Pau is a very difficult circuit, narrow and twisty, and with no run-off zones like on all proper race circuits, I struggle to push to the limit. On top of that I had a few minor accidents and had to retire from the second race. As there is a British F3 testing ban now before the next race at Mondello Park, Ireland, I am going back home to Japan to do some media work and hopefully get some rest!
Car no 12 Maro Engel, Race 1 - P 6, Race 2 - P 3
I feel clearly let down by Moreau (Signature Plus team) in the first race. He didn't try and pass but just went straight into the back of my car. Luckily I spun around and managed to finish the race although not in the position I could have been. In the second race I was very close to Buurman throughout the race. I chose to back off at some moments to preserve my tyres a bit, and then chose to attack at others. Even so, being really close to him, it was just impossible to pass. So all I could do was to follow him; I think we did have a bit more pace, and it would have been nice to have second place, but basically the positions were set at the start. The last lap must have been one of the craziest laps I've ever seen. I was so lucky to get past the first car that spun across the track, and then I saw Yelmer (Fortec Motorsport) pinning his car against the wall. As I went to overtake both cars, Yelmer somehow came off the wall, with all four wheels on his car, I don't know how that happened. I slammed the brakes on, so we didn't have an accident, and somehow we both got to the line, and that was my race, really. Everything packed together in the last lap. Pau is a great track, and we've been quick from the start thanks to our pre-race preparations. I think it would be fair to say that in terms of speed, we've been right behind Mike Conway (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) who has obviously been quickest all weekend.
Team Principal Trevor Carlin
I'm delighted that the British F3 series was invited to race in Pau for the first time. Although we have competed here as a team before with some success, it's great to be back on this fabulous little track as a British F3 series event.
We tried to prepare thoroughly for the races by organising opportunities for our drivers to compete in the historic races on the previous week-end. This meant that despite our drivers being inexperienced in comparison to some of the other front runners, we were competitive from our first laps. Our pace was strong throughout the week-end and we were able to give our drivers a good car set-up which we developed in accord with the track conditions.
I'm really sorry for Christian who was driving really well all weekend, as he said, he should have added to his podium tally but luck is not on his side at the moment. I thought that Maro was also strong this week-end and he's really demonstrating that he can drive an F3 car quickly over a variety of tracks and circuit conditions. I have the feeling that Maro's first F3 win is not far away.
Whilst Oliver couldn't quite match the pace of the front-runners he showed great composure all week-end and put in two very measured drives. As a result, he is maintaining a good grip on the championship points race. Oliver's maturity is very impressive and we now need to work with him to add just a little more pace.
Keiko endured a very tough week-end in very unfamiliar territory for her but she plugged away and deservedly scored points for the second F3 week- end in a row.
Congratulations to the Signature team on winning both races on their home soil, we look forward to taking them on at a British circuit!