RICCIARDO PLANS ON RETURN TO VICTORY LANE Snetterton test ahead for Carlin's championship-leading driver Championship leader Daniel Ricciardo will be bidding to get back on to the top step of the Cooper Tires British F3 podium next weekend ...
RICCIARDO PLANS ON RETURN TO VICTORY LANE
Snetterton test ahead for Carlin's championship-leading driver
Championship leader Daniel Ricciardo will be bidding to get back on to the top step of the Cooper Tires British F3 podium next weekend (4/5 July) at Snetterton in the hope of reversing a recent run of bad luck.
The Australian, who turns 20 a few days before the Norfolk meeting, won three of the first four races in his Carlin Motorsport Dallara-Volkswagen, but the Red Bull-backed racer has not since managed a top-three finish. "In the last four races I haven't even got on to the podium," said Daniel, "so the first goal is to get back up there. But I think that we will really have the pace at Snetterton to get back on to the top step: that's definitely my aim for the weekend."
Ricciardo showed strong form in testing at Snetterton earlier this week, but was unable to get within a tenth of a second of the Mercedes-powered Dallara of Hitech driver and Hockenheim race victor Walter Grubmuller. "Hitech's recent form has been very good," adds Dan, "so I would think that Grubmuller and Renger van der Zande will probably be my strongest opposition, along of course with my Carlin team-mates. We found some good things in testing, and perhaps there are a few more to come. I've been training hard, really putting in quite a bit of effort to get back on top. And my mother and father are over from Australia, so hopefully a bit more support will get me over the line and it should be a good weekend."
It's proving an incredibly close season: eight races have brought forward five different winners from four different teams. Ricciardo leads the title race by 15 points from Grubmuller, the Austrian assuming championship second in Germany thanks to his maiden British F3 win. Walter's Hitech team-mate van der Zande was a race winner at Silverstone and was twice second at Hockenheim.
The Raikkonen Robertson team has been on the up also, thanks to the drafting-in of Swede Marcus Ericsson to help regular runners Daisuke Nakajima and Carlos Huertas. Ericsson was a winner at both Rockingham and Hockenheim, helping Mercedes to a 5-3 lead over Volkswagen in the battle of the engine suppliers.
The other race-winning team in 2009 is JTR, whose Nick Tandy romped to a popular maiden British F3 win at Rockingham in May. Nick's Mygale hasn't proved itself the best in the field on faster circuits, so hoping for a repeat win at Snetterton may be a bit optimistic. One thing is for sure: if there's a chance, Tandy will seize it.
Max Chilton and Riki Christodoulou are, along with Tandy, the best hopes for a British win at Snetterton. Carlin man Max has yet to record a British F3 victory but has shown the pace to do so - three times a pole-sitter already this year - while Fortec pilot Christo' might have won at Rockingham but for a penalty.
Others to watch out for include T-Sport pairing Wayne Boyd and Adriano Buzaid - with the Brazilian no doubt hoping for a very special 21st birthday present on the Sunday at Snetterton - Carlin's new Canadian signing Philip Major and his team-mate Henry Arundel, Fortec's Spanish star Victor Garcia, Litespeed's Mygale man Jay Bridger, Monegasque Stephane Richelmi, and Welsh wizard Hywel Lloyd in the rapid CF Racing Dallara.
There's a superb four-way battle going on in the National Class also, headed currently by Fortec racer Daniel McKenzie, who's won the class five times from eight. His usual sparring partner is T-Sport driver Gabriel Dias; they have duelled closely in nearly every race.
The Norfolk-based Litespeed team and its Brazilian driver Victor Correa claimed the first National Class race win for the SLC chassis at Hockenheim, after Dias and McKenzie went out of the race; a repeat performance on home ground would be a major boost for Litespeed. The fourth man in the National class is Russian Max Snegirev, who returns for Team West-Tec after missing the German races.