2002 Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship Round 5, Silverstone, Northamptonshire, May 4th/5th/6th Weather: Clouding over, dry. This race would start without Reck Junior (Essencial Motorsport) or Junior Reck (which may be more ...
2002 Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship
Round 5, Silverstone, Northamptonshire, May 4th/5th/6th
Weather: Clouding over, dry.
This race would start without Reck Junior (Essencial Motorsport) or Junior Reck (which may be more appropriate given his qualifying performance) or whatever he's called; he may look the part off the track in his nice new suit and shiny boots, but he certainly didn't look it on the track during this weekend, and Silverstone is the sort of track that really shows the joins... The mood of most of the drivers beforehand was interesting. James Courtney (Carlin Motorsport) was busy trying to psyche himself up for his first win of the season, and was claiming that he could win both races. Heikki Kovalainen (Fortec Motorsport) thought differently, as did Fabio Carbone (also Fortec)... However, as the old saying goes, when the flag drops the bullshit stops. As races are no longer started with flags, we would have to wait and see what happened when the lights turned green.
Carbone promptly wasted his pole position and was swamped by just about everything, starting with his team-mate Kovalainen who tried to go round the outside of the Fortec as they left the start line. Mark Taylor (Manor Motorsport) went with him, getting the drop on the Finn and the Brazilian to move into the lead at Copse. The result of all this was that Carbone got it off the black stuff at Becketts and had to stagger back round to the pits with a car full of gravel. Various people got more than a little reshuffled in their attempts to avoid him, and Michael Keohane (Carlin Motorsport) took advantage of the chaos to try and pass his teammate, Courtney, at Stowe. It was a move that, according to Anthony Davidson, was never on and was something he personally wouldn't have tried (yes, Ant, of course we believe you)! Advisable or not, the result was a broken right front wing on Keohane's car and a punctured right rear tyre on Courtney's. Courtney pitted for a new tyre, Keohane didn't and continued in 4th place, just behind Adam Carroll (Sweeney Racing). It was maybe just as well that Keohane stayed out, as there was apparently a "free and frank" exchange of views in the Carlin motorhome afterwards! Additionally, there was something of a scuffle further down the order, as Clivio Piccione (T-Sport) got into a spin and was collected by Billy Asaro (Sweeney Racing), Ronnie Bremer (Manor Motorsport) and Jesper Carlsen (Essencial Motorsport). Jesper was particularly unimpressed: "It was pants! I tried to miss them and I just clipped my wing as I went by..." Only Bremer survived, and he came round dead last and everything went a bit odd for a few minutes, as yellows were waved and the wreckage was removed. Oh, and in case you missed it, Earl Goddard (Fred Goddard Racing) went off at Copse and then rejoined...
At the front, Kovalainen was constantly harassing Taylor, and Adam Carroll was suffering the attentions of Michael Keohane, who was trying everything to get past the Scholarship Class man, short of flying. Of course, with his front wing bent as it was, it was questionable as to whether Keohane would be able to get as far as the chequered flag, even if he could get past Carroll. Behind the battling quartet, Carbone came back out after his pit stop and slotted in just ahead of Robbie Kerr (Alan Docking Racing), Richard Antinucci (Manor Motorsport) and the Promatecme pair of Bruce Jouanny and Ernani Judice. The top ten was rounded out by Alan van der Merwe (Carlin Motorsport) and Tom Sisley (Motaworld), while the second-placed Scholarship Class driver was back in 15th in the shape of Karun Chandhok (T-Sport), an amazing 12 places back from the flying Sweeney car of Carroll. Chandhok was in the happy position of having a Class A car between him and the third man, Stephen Colbert (Team Meritus), when another member of the Scholarship Class exhibition managed to remove himself from the equation. That was Gavin Smith (Team Meritus), the Irishman getting it all wrong, going straight on and savaging the tyre barrier. Cue more yellow flags... At the very back of the field, after Bremer has started his recovery effort and had moved up, James Courtney was now on a mission to get fastest lap. It wasn't too difficult, as Taylor and Kovalainen were hindering each other's efforts by battling ferociously, Keohane was still stuck behind Carroll and everyone else was stuck behind Carbone! Courtney dropped back from the pack a little and then went for it. And once it seemed that the point for fastest race lap was secure, and with no hope of getting back into the points otherwise, Courtney called it a day, pulling into the pits and stopping. Another into the pits at that same stage was Goddard. The South African had found himself with an intermittently sticking throttle and was more than a little worried that instead of just sticking partly open the next time he put his foot down it might stick completely. "It was all right for the first part of the lap," he explained!
Kerr at last managed to get past Carbone, which meant he could set about chasing after Keohane without needing to worry about Antinucci, who was still trying to find a way past the tiny Brazilian. This at least gave Adam Carroll some breathing space, though you could argue that Carroll really ought to have let Keohane through, as well as Kerr. After all, they are not racing in the same class. The trouble is, Adam is racing in the same class, at least in his own head. Just because he's in a Class B car, it doesn't mean he doesn't want to play with the Class A's! Other people were having more trouble in the `junior' category, with Justin Sherwood (Performance Racing), suddenly dropping down the order but none of this really mattered just now. What did matter was the battle for the lead, with Kovalainen challenging Taylor incredibly hard, until suddenly Taylor came round alone. The gearbox of the Fortec car could take no more and had quit. It was a huge disappointment for the Finn and no doubt a tremendous relief for Taylor. Now he had empty space behind him and the knowledge that the next car up was Carroll's. It didn't necessarily mean he could relax, but he could at least take it a little easier for the remaining laps. Remarkably, this meant Carroll was second overall, as well as leading his class. It's been a while since that was done. With two thirds of the race distance completed, Taylor was now out on his own, while Carroll, Keohane and Kerr fought over second place. Jouanny, Judice and Van der Merwe were closely following Antinucci; while Sisley headed up Rob Austin (Menu Motorsport) and Shinya Hosokawa (Formula Dream Team Carlin), the latter remarkably still on the track after ten laps. It was beginning to look as if he might actually finally finish a race after a 100% run of DNFs. Just behind them, Mark Mayall (Alan Docking Racing) was having a very quiet afternoon, as was Matthew Gilmore (Team Avanti). In the Scholarship Class, however, things were getting very entertaining... Stephen Colbert was still menacing Karun Chandhok, while Stefan Hodgetts (Team Park) was trying to barge his way past the unfortunate Giandomenico Brusatin. Hodgetts eventually made it by driving the Colombian/Italian onto the grass along the main straight. It was brutal but effective. Then he set off after the man he replaced at Park, Colbert. It wasn't looking good for Colbert, and in fact the only thing that saved him was the fact that Hodgetts' Opel-Spiess engine, possibly unused to being thrashed within an inch of its life, lost the will to live and blew up big time on the following lap.
Meanwhile, Rob Austin had also been forced into retirement when the throttle cable on his car began to unwind itself. Mike Baker did suggest that the team might have discovered the problem if they had not been so tired after working late to change the car after the first practice session of the weekend, but as Rob wasn't in a points scoring position anyway, it probably didn't matter too much. The battle for second finally calmed down too, as the tyres began to go off, Carroll opening up a bit of gap between himself and Keohane. The wing on the Carlin car seemed to be getting steadily worse, though the Irish driver was not giving in. It left him vulnerable to Kerr though, and it was nothing short of amazing that he managed to hold the Englishman off all the way to the chequered flag, no matter what Robbie tried. And so they came home, Taylor taking a well-deserved maiden F3 win, from Carroll who was the undisputed Scholarship Class winner. Keohane, Kerr, Antinucci, Jouanny, Judice, van der Merwe, Sisley and Hosokawa completed the top 10 in their class. Chandhok hung on to second in the Scholarship Class, but Colbert fell into the gravel on the very last lap, thus handing 3rd to a delighted Mohammed Fairuz (Fred Goddard Racing). Fourth in class was David Clark (Team Park), while Colbert staggered round to claim 5th place, from Harold Primat (Diamond Racing), Diego Romanini (Scuderia Etruria) and Sherwood.