The reward for hard work For Laurens Vanthoor, crossing the Nurburgring's finish line proved to be something very special. The Belgian was just the 12th to do so but finishing 12th was enough for him to secure the 2009 ATS Formula 3 Cup title....
The reward for hard work
For Laurens Vanthoor, crossing the Nurburgring's finish line proved to be something very special. The Belgian was just the 12th to do so but finishing 12th was enough for him to secure the 2009 ATS Formula 3 Cup title. "It feels just great," beamed Vanthoor after having enjoyed a champagne shower by his team-mate, Stef Dusseldorp, "Although I had preferred to secure the title with another race win."
Vanthoor had caused a stir as early as 2008. In his first Formula 3 season, the Belgian secured nine podium finishes and two race wins. Afterwards, his goal for 2009 was clear: "Securing the title was my duty," the Belgian said right after the race. "To now have realised this goal represents the reward for our hard work in winter and throughout the season. I have learned a lot in the past two years and now I'm ready for making the next steps." Meanwhile, the title also represents something special for Volkswagen. After all, it's their first title since having made their Formula 3 comeback.
For the second time this season, an ATS Formula 3 Cup event was held at the Nurburgring. This time in the support programme of the Le Mans Series' 1000-kilometre race. Numerous spectators came to the Nurburgring to attend the tradition-rich event and also cheered for the ATS Formula 3 Cup drivers. Nonetheless, the young guns and the Cup organisers had to cope with a discomfort: the first race was started on Saturday at 08:00hrs! "Let's hope that everybody will get going and nobody has fallen asleep when the lights are switched off," Dusseldorp joked on Friday.
For the second consecutive time, Swiss Team Principal Jo Zeller contested a Cup weekend with a new driver. At Assen, the car of Jo-Zeller-Racing regular Rahel Frey had been raced by Austria's Bernd Herndlhofer and now, German Tim Sandtler replaced the Swiss. Just as Frey before him, Herndlhofer also had encountered budget problems. Sandtler and Jo-Zeller-Racing know each other from their joint Euro Series appearances and the German thanked the team for having signed him by finishing runner-up in the second round.
Also new on the ATS Formula 3 Cup grid was Frenchman Tom Dillmann. He was signed by Team Neuhauser Racing and teamed-up with Marco Oberhauser. And the 19-year old made perfect use of his Formula 3 experience. In the first qualifying session he had to cope with the somewhat disappointing third position but in the second - held in the wet - he secured the pole position. And in the races, he also made his team happy: In the first round he finished third, thus giving his team their first podium finish of the season to date - and a few hours later, he upped the ante by winning race two. "We have improved massively during the course of the past days," said the Frenchman. "Now I'm looking forward to the coming races."
While the teams Van Amersfoort Racing and Swiss Racing had a lot of visitors at Assen, 20 Russians travelled from Moscow to the Nurburgring to see Vladimir Semenov. The Formula 3 association had organised a multi-day-tour for the guests representing main sponsor Zyxel. In addition to attending the race weekend, the group also made sightseeing tours to Koblenz and Cologne. Among the guests: Zyxel Chairman Alexander Semenov, the father of Vladimir.
The Nurburgring and the Eifel region showed their well-known changeable faces: a three-day event - three days featuring different weather conditions. On Thursday, temperatures of more than 30^C made everybody sweat; on Friday morning, the second qualifying session was hampered by torrential rain and the cars had to be shod with the Yokohama wets; and on Saturday, the sun was back but the temperatures were rather low.
It's true, Laurens Vanthoor has secured the title early. Nonetheless, the situation in the championship is anything but boring. In the battle for the runner-up position, Stef Dusseldorp now holds an 18-point lead over Brazil's Rafael Suzuki but with 48 more points to be scored, Suzuki still may hope for defeating the Dutchman.
Meanwhile, Sergey Chukanov has virtually secured the ATS Formula 3 Trophy title. The Ukrainian holds a 39-point lead over his rival Francesco Lopez and with just 40 more points to be scored, in the final two events, Lopez needs a miracle to prevail. And hadn't his team-mate, Jesse Krohn, won the second race, Chukanov also would have won the title at the Nurburgring.
Dusseldorp may not only hope for finishing runner up in the Cup but also for winning the ZF - auto motor und sport - Juniorpokal. Here, he holds a 13-point lead over Markus Pommer and an 18-point lead over Nico Monien. In this competition, the drivers also can score 40 more points, on the final two race weekends.