Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 5,
Croft, Yorkshire, May 1st/2nd
© Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite
Weather: Sunny. Cool wind
This time we got the sort of weather where people get burned
and don't realize till it's way too late. Which accounts for
the large number of people wandering round this particular
bit of Yorkshire with positively radioactively glowing skin.
After the disaster that was qualifying Nelson A Piquet (Piquet
Sports) was doing a very good impression of a thundercloud,
the only blot on an otherwise clear blue sky. Starting race
one from 8th and race two from 12th, he just wanted to get
it over with, put Croft behind him and never, ever come back.
Unfortunately for him, he still had to race.
James Rossiter (Fortec Motorsport), meanwhile, had a theory
now, this is never a good thing in a racing driver, particularly
when the theory goes something like this: "Is Dirani
a left-hander?" This is Danilo Dirani he's asking about,
on pole position for both races for Carlin Motorsport. "I
think he's right-handed. I'm a left-hander. Piquet's a left-hander.
Left-handers don't crash
" Pause for snorts of derision
to die away. "Well, OK, we do, and when we do, we crash
big time." We do wish they wouldn't say things like that.
In a welter of comments about having to eat his words, the
youngster sidles off into the garage looking very sheepish.
Unfortunately, at the start of the race, he set about trying
to prove himself right, running into the rear wing of Adam
Carroll's P1 Motorsport Dallara, deranging said appendage
and leaving it canted back at a rather odd angle. To be fair,
James was rather concentrating on fending off Will Davison
(Menu Motorsport), who seemed very interested in forcing his
way up ahead of Rossiter. All of this argy-bargy allowed Dirani
to get away cleanly, slot into the lead and set about opening
a gap between himself and anyone who wanted to follow. When
the dust cleared, Rossiter was 2nd, and Carroll was sliding
down the order as he fought his car round. Cue much muttering
of "silly boy!" from those of us who'd been unfortunate
enough to be privy to his rather odd theory. In the Scholarship
Class it was all looking rather predictable, with Ryan Lewis
(T-Sport) getting away superbly into the class lead, leaving
Stephen Jelley (Performance Racing) to curse and slot in behind
him. In the mid-field it all got a bit disorderly when Will
Power (Alan Docking Racing) spun off, after he dropped his
wheels in the dirt trying to avoid Carroll. He was able to
get back on the track, but most of the field had gone by then,
leaving him to play catch up. Really, it was a surprise that
he wasn't the only one to go off.
What followed, once the dust cleared, was more than a little
processional (apart from a mid-field Latin American scuffle,
and the sight of Power trying to come back through the pack
from dead last). Still, there'd been quite enough excitement
in the previous races, so perhaps we shouldn't complain. Certainly
Dirani was pressing on as hard a he knew how, though he never
really looked in danger of losing the race to anyone once
they all shot through Clervaux corner for the first time.
Rossiter, on the other hand, had more than enough to do trying
to keep Davison at bay, the Australian initially mounting
a determined attack. He would eventually be forced to give
up the fight and settle back in to 3rd.
After that, all we could do was settle down to watch as Dirani
edged away from Rossiter, despite the latter's best efforts
to catch the Brazilian. Behind them Davison found himself
running a decidedly lonely race, after a brief, determined
but ultimately futile attack on Rossiter. At least he knew
he was heading for the podium if he could keep out of trouble.
There didn't seem to be much of a threat from behind either,
with Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport) heading up the next
cluster of cars. The Portuguese had Marko Asmer behind him,
the Hitech Racing driver showing well again this weekend.
The real interest was just behind Asmer (who would have been
well advised not to look in his mirrors). Ernesto Viso (P1
Motorsport) was holding off and infuriated Piquet, whose mood
can't have been improved by the fact that fellow-Brazilian
Lucas di Grassi, in another of the Hitech cars, was right
with him. He was having a lot of trouble with Viso, who was
now the sole P1 representative in good standing, as Carroll
had fallen down the order, dropping further and further back
as his rear wing began to tilt at an ever more extreme angle.
In the end, he retreated to the pits, any sort of recovery
a lost cause.
And a lap later, Viso was in the pits too. Piquet had passed
him earlier in a slingshot move into the Hairpin, but a bent
wishbone sustained when he made contact with one of the tyre
piles that line the circuit's trickier corners was what accounted
for the Venezuelan. Piquet was now running a lot further up
the order than he could possibly have expected before the
lights turned green. It didn't make him much happier though.
After all, he still had another race to get through, and he'd
be starting that one from even further back.
Apart from that, the battle behind di Grassi got a little
over-heated for a while, with Danny Watts (Promatecme F3),
Karun Chandhok (T-Sport), Andrew Thompson (Hitech Racing)
and Clivio Piccione (Carlin Motorsport) all stacking up in
a disorderly pile, all wanting to get ahead of the Brazilian
if they could. They couldn't, but it afforded a few laps of
amusement for the spectators, particularly when the entire
field (or at least that's how it seemed) came up to lap Ajit
Kumar. Now the man from Mango Racing has been courtesy itself
so far when lapped, but this time he had no place to go, and
he ended up holding a number of his fellow-competitors up
rather badly as they wrestled their way through Clervaux.
Asmer, in particular, wasn't too pleased about getting caught
behind the Bollywood star. Ironically, Kumar went off into
the boonies after most of the field had lapped him. There
were some who would have preferred it if he'd gone a little
He was joined in the field a little later by
Parente, which moved Piquet up another place. Fifth really
wasn't that bad for a man who'd started where he did. He was
still leading the championship too, when the flag fell, though
he was only two points ahead of Dirani, who had done himself
no harm at all with a lights to flag victory, and including
a point for fastest lap. Rossiter hung on grimly behind him,
with Davison running pretty much alone, as was Asmer. Things
behind Piquet finally resolved in favour of di Grassi - so
no surprises there. Watts was next up, from Chandhok, Piccione,
Thompson and Fairuz Fauzy (Menu Motorsport), whose performance
wouldn't have looked bad were it not for Davison. Still, at
least he scored a point.
Lewis had been troubled by Jelley in the closing laps but
had never really looked likely to lose the Scholarship Class
win, again claiming the maximum points to move a long way
ahead in the points. It begins to look as if no one has the
answer to him, and if they wait much longer to try and find
a solution, it's going to be too late anyway.
So, Round 5 was over, and very quiet it was too. It was to
be hoped that the second race of the day might provide a little
more in the way of excitement, or those who suggest F3 is
boring would be given way too much ammunition to aid their
case, and we might be unlucky enough to end up with pit stops
or some similar abomination being introduced next year. And
no one in their right minds should want that!