New team - new chance Two spectacular Formula 3 races Husky sports cars, two successful former F3 Champions and spectacular Formula 3 races - 22,000 spectators enjoyed a sunny and exciting race weekend in the Eifel. And they celebrated - first...
New team - new chance
Two spectacular Formula 3 races
Husky sports cars, two successful former F3 Champions and spectacular Formula 3 races - 22,000 spectators enjoyed a sunny and exciting race weekend in the Eifel. And they celebrated - first of all - Pedro Lamy and Jos Verstappen. The two former German F3 champions (Lamy 1992, Verstappen 1993) went to meet their young ATS Formula 3 Cup successors before winning their categories in the Nurburgring 1000-Kilometre Race. At the wheel of his Peugeot Hdi-FAP, Lamy secured both the LMP1 and the overall win, in the 195-lap race, with Verstappen prevailing - seven laps behind the winner - in the LMP2 category, with his Porsche RS Spyder.
At the same time, Frederic Verwisch taking the ATS Formula Cup Championship lead and - even more so - the Belgian's move to a new team represented the main topics in the paddock of Germany's fastest single-seater series. Following the Assen rounds, the Belgian opted for contesting the rest of the season for the squad of Swiss Team Principal Jo Zeller. "Having finished runner-up in 2007 I just have to win the title this year," underlines the Belgian. "That's why I opted for swapping teams. At Jo Zeller Racing, the team will focus exclusively on me and my car." In the 11th and 12th rounds of the season, Verwisch made a major step on the way to realising his goal by scoring every single of the 24 points available. With two pole positions, two fastest race laps and two race wins the 22-year old truly outclassed the rest of the field.
Still, even Verwisch's perfect race weekend wouldn't have offered him the opportunity to leave the Nurburgring with the 19-point lead he is holding now. The - involuntary - help of his closest rivals, Matteo Chinosi, Johnny Cecotto and Sebastian Saavedra, was necessary to offer him the chance of opening such a big gap on them. But due to spinning and retiring early, they failed to add a big number of points to their tallies. Now, Verwisch holds an impressive lead over Matteo Chinosi and Johnny Cecotto who are tied in second. Nonetheless, Verwisch still is far from having realised his dream. After all, there still are six rounds to go and 72 points to be scored, at Oschersleben, the EuroSpeedway and the Sachsenring.
At these venues, the teams will have the opportunity to opt for a slightly more relaxed approach than at the Nurburgring. During the 1000-Kilometre Race, they had to cope with extraordinary circumstances and an extremely tight schedule, with the second qualifying session and both races all being held on Saturday, due to the Le Mans Series schedule. Consequently, the time between the sessions for preparing the cars and making changes was limited - and the Formula 3 Association opted for placing the Parc Ferme in the paddock to offer the teams the opportunity to continue their work as fast as possible. And all the teams delivered in fine style: in every session and on every grid, the entire field was involved.
Meanwhile, the ATS Formula 3 Trophy drivers made for the weirdest finish in the season to date. Actually, Marco Oberhauser was on the way to winning the race and it looked as if his closest rival, Dennis Swart, would have to settle with finishing runner-up. But then, they approached Luca Iannaccone. Oberhauser was forced to brake and Swart used the chance of going alongside the Austrian. Side by side, they approached the finish line when Oberhauser saw in his mirrors Shirley van der Lof approaching from behind. "I wanted to move over to prevent her from passing me and while doing so, I must have touched Swart and spun. All that on the pit straight," said Oberhauser. Van der Lof benefited from the incident and celebrated her maiden ATS Formula 3 Trophy win - on the final ten metres of the race. Nonetheless, the two title contenders also made it to the finish line - and onto the podium.
The battle for the title between Oberhauser and Swart is closer than ever. With a race win and a second place, Oberhauser leaped from third place into the trophy lead and holds now a two-point lead over Swart. The Dutchman was hampered by problems in the first race of the weekend and consequently had had to settle for finishing fifth. While Bernd Herndlhofer who dropped back to third position also succeeded in keeping his title chances alive. After all, he lies just six points behind the new leader.
Meanwhile, Hamad Al Fardan made for a moment of shock. In the second race of thee weekend, the Bahraini suffered a massive crash in the Mercedes Arena. He somersaulted, made a 'stopover' on the roll bar to then crash backwards into the crash barriers. Nonetheless, the 21-year old could leave the Adenau hospital right after having been checked. The only thing he will have to cope with in the coming weeks is a rib bruise. Nothing that will prevent him from returning behind the wheel in three weeks time: on 06th and 07th September, the ATS Formula 3 Cup is going to hold its 13th and 14th rounds at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz.