Guest driver Robert Doornbos makes a great debut at Spa, in British F3 champ. Dutch F3 Euro Series driver Robert Doornbos showed an excellent performance at Spa-Francorchamps with Team Menu Motorsport, this weekend. Robert, regular in the...
Guest driver Robert Doornbos makes a great debut at Spa, in British F3 champ.
Dutch F3 Euro Series driver Robert Doornbos showed an excellent performance at Spa-Francorchamps with Team Menu Motorsport, this weekend. Robert, regular in the F3 Euro Series with Italian Team Ghinzani, signed just two weeks ago to stand in for the injured Rob Austin. Having tested the Dallara-Opel at Snetterton during a short testing day, the Dutch guy was able to put his name in top 4 positions in free practice and then to snatch a fantastic pole position for race2.
Qualifying for Race1, as the entire weekend race, was dominated by variable weather conditions that were turning from wet to dry so easily to make the set up's strategies difficult. On wet track conditions Robert and his Team qualified only 18th due to a wrong set up choice (with less down-force in order to be faster, in the hope the track would become dry) which did not allow them to sign a top ten time. After a clean start Robert passed 4 cars, at lap 1, and when it started to rain hardly he entered the pit to change his Avon-slick in rain-tyres. Because of the very bad weather conditions the safety car entered the track and then the organization decided to stop the race with red flag. "After good free practice sessions, I had a bad qualifying. We thought that the track could turn in dry conditions so we decided for a set up that, unfortunately, did not help me as the circuit remained wet. The start was good, I overtook some cars, but my team-mate closed me the door so I put my tyres on the grass, but I immediately rejoined the track. When it begun to rain, we decided to change the tyres but I had no time to exit the pit because the race was stopped, at lap 5 on 11!. I finally classified 15th".
In qualifying for Race2 Robert had the chance to show his perfect feeling with Team Menu's car by snatching a superb 2:16.745 lap time that gave to him and to the Team their FIRST-EVER POLE POSITION!!! Conditions turned out to be dry and Robert took full advantage by grabbing the fastest time with ten minutes remaining. "Everything went well for us," Robert commented "I think this track suit me and my car. The second qualifying session was held on dry conditions and my Team menu did a fantastic job setting up the car. I just took three laps to set my 2:16.745 and take pole." "It is a fantastic day for me and the team," he continued "As I was able to give them their first pole, this year, which is also my first one!". Ten minutes before the green lights it started to rain; Merwe had a better start and overhauled Doornbos with ease to take the lead before the famous Eau Rouge corner. With a set up for a dry track, and rain tyres, Robert had a job maintaining the 2nd position, as his car was slippery, and at lap 4 he was passed by Salignon, Green and Briscoe. "The weather is incredible at Spa: in a few minutes it changes from wet to dry! My car was surely faster, but the set up we choose was no more good when the rain begun to fall down. However Team Menu was happy, and me too, because it was a beautiful weekend. I want to thank them for their fantastic job". Robert had then to settle for a 5th final position.
Even if Robert thought it would be possible to finish on podium, his approach to the Spa race can be valued as a positive debut as he was able to set fast lap times since Friday free, and then put Team Menu Dallara-Opel F3 on Pole position, ahead of 29 very competitive drivers.
RACE 1: Robert Doornbos position 15 (qualified 18th)
Van der Merwe, Green, Power, Piquet J., Bremer, Briscoe, Parente, Salignon, Antinucci, Caroll, Fauzy, Watts, Kubica, Doornbos, ----.
RACE 2: Robert Doornbos position 5 (qualified POLE POSITION)
Van der Merwe, Salignon, Green, Briscoe, Doornbos, Watts, Piquet J., Parente, Dahlgren, de Oliveira,--..--26 Sherwood.
Robert Doornbos - is actually driving a Dallara-Mugen #16 of Italian team Ghinzani in the F3 Euro Series and lies in 9th position in the Driver standings with 25 points. In 6 rounds (2 races for each round) Robert has reached 2 podiums (2nd at Hockenheim and 3rd at Nurburgring) and has always gained some points.