Masterful Ninth for Kimball at Zandvoort American Charlie Kimball competed in the BP Ultimate Masters of Formula 3 this past weekend, 5-6 August, at the Dutch racing circuit in Zandvoort. The Masters is an FIA International even that draws F3...
Masterful Ninth for Kimball at Zandvoort
American Charlie Kimball competed in the BP Ultimate Masters of Formula 3 this past weekend, 5-6 August, at the Dutch racing circuit in Zandvoort. The Masters is an FIA International even that draws F3 competitors from around the world. The entry list this year comprised of 40 cars from three different series and drivers from over ten countries. Kimball made his mark once again with a gutsy drive from 16th on the grid to a stellar 9th place finish. The American's result was even more impressive because he was the only driver to significantly improve his position during the race.
Due to the large number of cars, the organizers split the field into even and odd numbered car groups for both the practice and the qualifying. In the Free Practice sessions, Kimball was running times that were very competitive on both new and used tires as he tuned the car for optimal qualifying trim. His times in the two practice sessions were good enough for fifth and sixth in his group. In the first of the two qualifying sessions, Kimball found himself blocked by traffic on every one of his quick laps. Even with the hindrances, his lap time placed him 9th quick in his group. For the second session, the Signature team made some improvements to the Dallara car and Kimball took to the track to improve his grid spot. Unfortunately, the weather and track conditions meant that the second qualifying session was not as fast as the first session and Kimball struggled to improve. However, he still ran a time four-tenths of a second quicker than he did in the first qualifying session, even though the fastest time of the session was three-tenths slower. This time improvement moved him up to 8th in his group and a 16th place starting spot for the Masters Race.
"It was really frustrating to have had so much traffic in the first qualifying session when it was so much easier to go quick," said Kimball about the two qualifying sessions. "In the second session, the car was a lot better, but the track just wasn't quick enough. It is disappointing since I know there is a lot more speed in the car and that I qualified in the same place for last year's Masters Race."
Despite qualifying, Kimball's race was not disappointing at all. 16th on the grid meant Kimball was on the inside line going into the first corner and he used this to his full advantage. When the red lights went out, Kimball made a typically good start and before even crossing the start line had passed teammate Guillaume Moreau and Carlin driver Maro Engel, moving him to 14th. Then, by the exit of the first corner, Kimball had improved to 12th passing Michael Herck and veteran F3 driver Richard Antinucci. The young American's charge through the field continued as the cars traveled down the front straight for the first time. Kimball used the aerodynamic 'tow' to pull alongside fellow American racer Jonathon Summerton and Euroseries competitor Kamui Kobayashi running side by side, making it three wide with Kimball on the inside into the first corner. Being on the inside line made it a matter of getting around the first corner and moving up to 10th. Then he as he began to pressure British driver Mike Conway for ninth, Conway made a mistake and ran off the road and retired, promoting Kimball to ninth, where he would run to the flag.
"That was such a fun first couple of laps," Kimball enthused. "The start was chaotic, but I picked the best option and made up the most spots. Then the pass on two cars at once into Turn 1 was really satisfying! Our race pace is really good now, we just have to get qualifying right and a podium is on the cards for sure."
Kimball will now train and work with the team in preparation for his next race in the Formula 3 Euroseries at the German Nurburgring, August 18-20, 2006.