Kimball Makes a Point at Nurburgring Charlie Kimball continued his improvement in the Formula 3 Euroseries this past weekend, August 18-20, 2006 at the Nurburgring in the mountains of western Germany. After showing promising pace in both open...
Kimball Makes a Point at Nurburgring
Charlie Kimball continued his improvement in the Formula 3 Euroseries this past weekend, August 18-20, 2006 at the Nurburgring in the mountains of western Germany. After showing promising pace in both open testing sessions as well as the free practice, he overcame a problematic qualifying position of 17th to finish an impressive 10th in the first race. The American racer then continued his charge forward to finish 6th in the second race to score another Championship point.
The 21-year-old's weekend got off to a good start when he finished the first free test session in third place, an indication of the continued improvement to his car. After both the second free test session and the free practice, Kimball's pace looked likely to produce a top-ten qualifying position. However, qualifying didn't go to plan as a tuning change to improve the car had a negative effect on the car's handling and meant that Kimball couldn't repeat his speed of practice. The result was a very disappointing 17th place grid spot.
"Sometimes when you are pushing the envelope and trying to move forward, you end up going backwards," Kimball said of the poor qualifying. "It is really frustrating as we definitely had the pace for a top-10 place, but I know I can pass here and I will do my best in the races."
With his typical determination, Kimball had a very successful Race 1. Kimball's start was good and by the exit of the first corner he had moved within striking distance of the lead pack. However, as he entered the second corner he was struck in the left rear by his teammate, Romain Grosjean, which meant he had to use the run off area to avoid spinning. This moved Kimball back to 14th, but he never gave up and was determined to have a good result. He completed two very impressive late braking maneuvers into the first corner passing Peter Elkman and Alejandro Nunez which moved him to 12th. He was then promoted to 11th when fellow American Jonathon Summerton retired from the race. Kimball set about pressuring his other teammate Guillame Moreau for 10th place when Guillame made a serious mistake on the last lap, promoting Kimball to the top-10, a very impressive result from 17th on the grid.
Kimball enthused about the race, "What a result! I am very happy with the improvement I made in the race and with my passing. This means I will start tomorrow's race in 10th and have a good shot at getting some points for finishing in the top 6."
Race 2 saw Kimball move up the grid again through a combination of passes and promotions. He moved up to ninth on the first lap of Race 2 and was pressuring previous race-winner Kazuki Nakajima for 8th. The Californian completed another of his last of the late braking passes into the first corner and set-off after the lead group. His charge was turned upside down when a rain shower wreaked havoc on the field. As all the cars were on slick tires, people went off the road in every imaginable way. Kimball tested and predicted the grip level well and moved up to sixth place before the safety car was deployed to clean up the carnage. When it went back to green, Kimball moved up to fifth passing the spinning car of Giedo van der Garde before being demoted to seventh by Richard Antinucci, who had stopped for wet tires, and Peter Elkman, who predicted the shower in his set-up. Kimball finished seventh on the racetrack, but was promoted to 6th when the race winner Paul DiResta was penalized for spinning van der Garde.
Kimball spoke of the chaotic race, "That was like two races in one, the dry and the wet! In the dry conditions we were very competitive and I went as fast as I qualified which is very unusual for used tires. We are obviously improving the car a lot. Driving in wet conditions on slick tires was just hard work and it was all I could do to keep it on the road! I used the opportunity to develop my skills in constantly changing grip conditions and am pleased with the result."
Kimball will continue his training regime with a hiking trip in the Italian Dolomite Mountains. His next race in the Formula 3 Euroseries is a return to the Dutch circuit of Zandvoort, September 1-3, 2006.