Alan van der Merwe leads the way with race victory at Donington. Alan van der Merwe (Carlin Motorsport) made the best possible start to the British Formula Three season, with a fantastic win in the opening round of the series at Donington Park...
Alan van der Merwe leads the way with race victory at Donington.
Alan van der Merwe (Carlin Motorsport) made the best possible start to the British Formula Three season, with a fantastic win in the opening round of the series at Donington Park last Sunday (6th April 2003).
The young charger now leads the championship after two impressively mature performances while his rivals suffered. Alan's team mate was excluded from the opening race for tyre irregularities, but the South African was in the right place to inherit the points and reap the reward.
"I'm really happy to be leading the drivers' championship. Obviously I like to win on the track, but rules are rules and Jamie was excluded."
Alan started race one in his Dallara F303 Mugen-Honda from fifth on the grid and he made a terrific start, nearly leading the race at the first corner. "From the start I got past Bremer, Antinucci and Rob Austin and was alongside Jamie Green at Redgate corner, but he squeezed me onto the grass."
"After that I kept the pressure on Jamie throughout the race," said Alan. "I noticed he started to make some mistakes late in the race and that's when I pushed even harder and had a stab at passing him."
Alan set the fastest lap of the race on lap 9 of 20 and was never more than a second behind the lead car. It was when the two Carlin cars came up to lap a couple of backmarkers that Alan had his best opportunity to pass. "I was contemplating a last lap lunge past Jamie, but all the time I was thinking about points and the championship. It's the start of a very long season and all I wanted to do was get solid point finishes."
In the second race, Alan made another lightening start from fifth and was right behind Green going into the first corner again. "I couldn't believe how good my start was," said Alan, "I carried loads of speed into the first corner, and locked up. It was very close with Jamie but we both came out in one piece."
Alan finished the weekend with a strong second, defending the attack of Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet Jnr. "I didn't want to make any mistakes to allow Piquet to close. I certainly had the measure of him and he didn't threaten my second place."
"It was great to bounce back to get these two good results and lead the points standings after the difficult qualifying sessions," added van der Merwe.
Alan is hoping to further extend his championship lead when the series moves to Snetterton on April 19/20.