[This report delayed in transmission -- our apologies] GILBERTO MAKES IT TWO IN A ROW IN THE MEXICAN F3 by CAJAL The second race of the Montana International F3 Grand Prix took place this weekend (!3/14 April, 1996) in the city of San Luis ...
[This report delayed in transmission -- our apologies]
GILBERTO MAKES IT TWO IN A ROW IN THE MEXICAN F3 by CAJAL
The second race of the Montana International F3 Grand Prix took place this weekend (!3/14 April, 1996) in the city of San Luis Potosi, located some 350 Km. north of Mexico City, and famous for its cajeta (a caramel-like dessert) and tunas (the fruit of the nopal cactus which you can see in the Mexican flag). The circuit is called Tangamanga II because there was an earlier Tangamanga I and it's considered a speed circuit, 2.3 km. long. The first surprise came Saturday morning when the second driver for the Mexlub team, Brazilian Paolo Carcasci, did not appear and his place was taken, for this race only, by local driver Peregrino Guerrero. It seems Paolo decided to bet his future on the Indy Lights championship and just faxed his resignation Friday night. "Like the maids, he didn't even say goodbye" would be the comment of a source close to the team, although maybe Brazilian maids don't say goodbye, mine (Mexican 100%) are usually better educated (and a few have been from San Luis). So the first, and only, qualifying run took place that day, everybody on Goodyear racing rubber which is a co-sponsor of the championship, and Gilberto (Beto) Jimenez, from the Montana Team, shone to capture the pole in 1' 9" and 256 thousandths, followed by his teammate Oswaldo Negri 6 tenths behind. Next came Argentinian Waldemar Coronas of Mexlub missing the 1'9" by 15 thousandths, and defending champ Derek Higgins (Quaker State/GO) 3 hundredths behind. Homero Richards (Corona Beer/Lozano Racing) was fifth with 1'10" .374 and Rod MacLeod (Quaker State/Go) rounded the top six less than a tenth behind. By the way, both Gilberto and Oswaldo broke the lap record held by Derek since 1995 in 1'9".972 while the Irishman couldn't do it, and it seems that the Quaker State Team will have carburettors instead of fuel injection for the race in Monterrey, like Montana and Mexlub, or the championship might be lost for them before long (they have won the last 3 years in a row, twice with Carlos Guerrero and last year with Derek).
Sunday was sunny and after the Reynard Formula race won by Yamil Rached (Pennzoil), followed by Jose Antonio Ramos (Schwarz Racing) and Luis Diaz (Quaker State), Gilberto did rise and shine. He made a good start for the 45 lap race but Derek made an even better one to take second place in a manouvre which could have eliminated half the field. Oswaldo followed and Waldemar retired at the end of the first lap with engine trouble. Homero Richards pressured Oswaldo which in turn hounded Derek which in turn snapped at the heels of Gilberto, showing his intention of passing several times but Beto kept his cool for six laps. At the start of the seventh Derek did the slingshot and run side to side with Beto, their cars touched with neither giving way and Oswaldo trid to pick them both but touched Derek and was out of the race. Derek was given a stop and go and lost his chance to win. Beto just held his place and at times it looked as if he was playing with the rest of the field although it was later said that he had severe overheating problems due to some debris picked in the radiators and that was the reason for him slowing at times. Rod took up the chase with Homero and they fought hard for more than 10 laps, Homero braking the official lap record in lap 13 with 1'9".820, but this fight was broken when he was forced to retire with electrical problems in the car after 20 laps. Rod then tried to catch Beto but couldn't make inroads because Beto was well informed by his pit crew and speeded-up when necessary.
Fight for third place was ferocious between Allen Berg (Coca-Cola/Sentra) and local driver Alex Villasana (Canel's Bubblegum) but somehow a mistake in the finish line timing beam (I never heard this one before) which didn't count one of his laps made the officials think he was one lap behind and they showed him the blue flag repeatedly, which he ignored, and were about to blackflag him when he obeyed, but his team did protest and every manual chartkeeper knewthey were right. Since Alex was not going to be blueflagged, the mistake was made by the timing equipment and the race between them was tight till the end, the stewards decided to award third place to both drivers, even though they were separated by 2 tenths of a second, and that's how they went to the rostrum. Fifth place was Luis F. Perea (Perea Racing) and sixth was Derek after a second stop. Seventh and last driver to complete the race was Horacio Richards (brother of Homero) running under the Mundet soda pop banners. The championship stands with Gilberto leading it with 40 points, followed by Rod with 21, Oswaldo 15 and Derek 14. By the way, overheard by this writer was the news that the 1992 champion of the Mexican F3 Cesar T. Jimenez (Beto's brother), will soon be married. Congratulations to him!