Kimball Shines in Marlboro Masters Debut American Charlie Kimball finished an impressive 12th at the Marlboro Masters of Formula 3 International Invitational race held at Zandvoort in the Netherlands. The young Californian overcame many...
Kimball Shines in Marlboro Masters Debut
American Charlie Kimball finished an impressive 12th at the Marlboro Masters of Formula 3 International Invitational race held at Zandvoort in the Netherlands. The young Californian overcame many challenges to qualify 17th for the race, 9th in his group, before racing through the field to be the second highest finishing driver from the British F3 Championship.
The Marlboro Masters is a unique invitational event, held annually, for F3 drivers from around the world. Drivers from the British F3 championship all started at a disadvantage because the race is run on Kumho tires (which drivers in the F3 Euroseries race on) and at a circuit where many had never been before. Because 36 cars were invited to race, qualifying was split into two groups.
"I am pleased with where I qualified considering I am still learning the circuit and the tires. The Kumhos are very different from the Avon tires I have been running all season and this is my first race weekend on Kumhos. Zandvoort is an awesome track and I am still learning where to find those extra tenths," said Kimball, after qualifying. "I am also happy because each session I improved - from qualifying 1 to qualifying 2, I improved over half a second. I did get held up on my fastest lap so I am confident there is more time there."
After the warm-up session on Sunday morning, Kimball was promoted to 15th on the grid when Steven Kane crashed heavily, preventing him from starting the race. Kimball, the only American driver in the field, made a good start and passed Marco Bonanomi to take 14th position into first corner. The Carlin driver then ran in a pack of 8 drivers all fighting for 6th position, including experienced drivers like Loic Duval, Franck Perera and Marko Asmer. The competitive pressure was so intense in the group that two experienced drivers made mistakes and spun off, promoting Kimball to his finishing position of 12th.
"The race was a lot of fun! I was still learning the track through the first half. Even so, I kept pressure on Sebastian Vettel the whole race but it is very difficult to pass at Zandvoort. I was also able to keep a significant margin over Mike Conway, fellow Brit F3 driver," said Kimball, after the 25 lap race. "This weekend was a great learning experience because of all the challenges I faced and the extremely limited track time. Circuit and tire knowledge really made a difference here, however I knew that was going to be the case coming into the weekend. Two 20 minute practice sessions before qualifying was all I had to master this technical circuit and the Kumho tires. I concentrated on learning as much as possible for the future, as well as getting a good result. I achieved both of these goals and consider that a success."
Out of the dozen drivers from the British Championship, Kimball was the second highest finisher behind championship leader Marko Asmer, who competed in the Masters last year.
Kimball will continue his testing program and fitness training in preparation for the next rounds of the British F3 International Series to be held at Castle Combe on June 25th and 26th.