F3 International Series, Round 13, Monza, Italy, July 8th/10th
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas
Wet (as usual).
Australia's Karl Reindler has replaced Danny Watts at Alan
Docking Racing. HBR Racing is visiting from the F3 Euro Series
with Alejandro Nunez and Christopher Wassermann at the helms
of their Dallara F305s.
Imagine Formula Threes racing in Italy. Sunshine bouncing
off the bodywork, and glinting on helmets. Now imagine the
It's raining like there's no tomorrow out there,
but with a cramped timetable (because we have we have an extra
race - left over from Spa - to fit in before Sunday morning)
they have to go out to play regardless of the weather conditions.
As ever Ryan Lewis (T-Sport) is first out to play, though
that may just mean that he'll also be first in the gravel.
The conditions on Saturday morning at Monza were truly horrible,
with water everywhere. Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport)
was quickly at the head of the times, with Tim Bridgman (Hitech
Racing) putting in a surprisingly good effort to go 2nd, and
Lewis in 3rd. It was, needless to say, all change at the top
for the first lap or two, with Mike Conway (Fortec Motorsport)
in 4th, and Charlie Kimball (Carlin Motorsport) and Danilo
Dirani (P1 Motorsport) also showing signs of joining in. Lewis
was determined though, and on his 2nd flying lap, took provisional
pole back. Kimball was having none of it though, and immediately
went faster, while Conway slipped to 3rd. All of this pushed
Parente down a couple of rows. The times were coming down
significantly as the tyres came in and the rain started to
ease off slightly.
The Double R Racing boys had been fast in Friday's testing
sessions, and Daniel Clarke was now in the 2.06s. This was
a significant improvement on the earlier laps, while another
significant improvement came from Christian Bakkerud. The
Carlin Motorsport Dane had continued his recent run of demolition
jobs, by crashing out of the first test session on Friday
and thus missing all but three laps of the second session,
he was down on track time, so any progress would be good.
He was now in the top ten, but unfortunately didn't stay there
for long. An indiscretion at the Parabolica resulted in him
skittering off into the gravel, and then sliding drastically
down the order as everyone else speeded up. He really wasn't
having a good weekend...
Someone who was having a pretty good weekend was Duran, who
was now 6th overall and needless to say was on provisional
National Class pole. The Mexican has been here before and
likes the circuit; it showed. Steven Kane was also showing
signs of liking this place, the Promatecme F3 Lola runner
grabbing a place on the front row. He lost it almost immediately
to Lewis, who promptly lost out to Parente, and to Kimball.
The Portuguese was the first to break into to 2 minutes 5
second bracket, and was looking very smooth indeed. Kimball
too was looking good, and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying
himself on this demanding track. The lap times didn't seem
to be about to settle, with Bridgman clawing his way back
up to 4th, and Lewis again flinging to car round to claim
2nd. Kimball wasn't about to let that stop him, however, and
was soon in the 2.05s along with his team-mate. Parente then
went faster, looking very smooth round here. Between them,
it was looking as if the Carlin pair just might have the front
row sewn up by the end of the session. However, there was
still a long way to go before it was all over. This was proved
when Conway shot back up the order, to claim 5th, while Parente
increased his hold on pole by setting an even faster time.
He'd bargained without Bridgman, whose aggressive style is
far better suited to wet running, however, and had to temporarily
cede his lead to the Hitech driver. A lap later he was able
to answer back, this time with a superb 2.04.577, around 3/4
of a second faster than Kimball, who was back in 2nd again
after a brief dip down the order.
Someone we hadn't seen much from by this point was Marco Asmer,
the Estonian leaving it very late to emerge from the pits
and join the session. He'd looked good - but not good enough
- in testing, and was now showing in 7th overall, not what
he needs if he's going to keep his chances alive in this championship.
Kane was still in there fighting, his session vastly better
than might have been suggested by testing, at least at the
halfway stage. He was now 3rd, pushing Bridgman down to 4th,
while James Walker (Fortec Motorsport) was 5th. And while
all that was going on, Kimball snuck onto pole.
At the halfway point, the top ten was Kimball, Parente, Kane,
Bridgman, Walker, Lewis, Dirani, Clarke, Asmer and Conway.
Charlie Hollings (Promatecme F3) was heading up the National
Class, and was 11th overall, holding off Duran and Josh Fisher
(Team SWR). However, the rain was easing off a little, which
meant that there were still multiple changes in the offing.
Walker certainly wasn't done yet, and promptly grabbed 3rd
place, while Asmer decided he'd like some of that too. The
result was 4th, though he probably wouldn't get to keep it
for long. Most people were in the pits now, but that didn't
matter too much given how much space there was on the track.
The National Class battle wasn't over yet either, and Duran
managed to get ahead of Hollings not long after the round
of pit stops began; Fisher took it straight off him, but it
was tense. It was a long way from settled at the front either
as Lewis demonstrated by getting into 3rd place.
The Double R Racing lads appeared to be locked into their
own battle, with Bruno Senna now 9th, just ahead of his team-mate
Clarke. That particular scrap would take a while to settle
too. Meanwhile Asmer was battling valiantly to edge back up
the order and was 4th, only to be edged back out by Walker
again. And then the Carlin stranglehold was broken by Lewis
who grabbed pole, with a time of 2 minutes 3 seconds lap.
He would enjoy the feeling of being fastest for a short while,
but Parente certainly hadn't given up and was quickly up to
2nd. A little back from there, Clarke was up to 5th, with
Bridgman up to 6th. It was beginning to look like the last
man to cross the line might well be the poleman. Bridgman
then found himself demoted by Walker, then by Kane, which
didn't amuse him too much. He retaliated by going back up
to 4th a lap later, but then Walker got him again. It was
like watching a yo-yo going backwards and forwards and was
probably fun for everyone except those immediately involved.
Meanwhile Kimball was still pushing hard, even though the
majority of the drivers out there had found that the improvements
were long gone. It didn't stop Charlie from gaining an improvement,
though he was still 3rd at the end of the lap. He got unexpectedly
demoted by a hard charging Asmer, but came back to grab pole,
with Parente just behind him. It looked as if the two of them
were about to swap places when Parente set the fastest first
sector time of the session, and looked on pole to set another
scorching time, only to run out of fuel in the second sector
and have to weave and junk to get the car home without the
aid of a breakdown truck. Finally, after about 32 minutes,
the flag came out and various people were brought back to
have the gravel shaken out of their cars (and any other places
it may have got). Once the dust settled, Carlin was again
dominant, with a lock out of the front row. Kimball was happy
to be on pole, and Parente was certain that he could have
been there without the lack of fuel. Lewis was 3rd, from Asmer,
Walker, Bridgman, Walker, Clarke, Dirani and Kane. Next up
was National Class pole man Salvador Duran, from Senna, Fisher,
Ronayne O'Mahony (Fortec Motorsport), Jonathan Kennard (Alan
Docking Racing), Ben Clucas (Fluid Motorsport), Hollings,
Bakkerud, Reindler and Stephen Jelley (Menu Motorsport), who'd
spent quite a lot of the session sitting in the gravel repeatedly
asking the marshals to push him out, only to have them refuse.
21st was Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport), from an uncharacteristically
slow Barton Mawer (T-Sport), Adam Khan (Performance Racing)
and Juho Annala (Alan Docking Racing). Next up were the two
Invitation Class runners, Nunez and Wassermann, ahead of Nick
Jones (Team SWR), Ricardo Teixeira (Carlin Motorsport) and
Cheong Lou Meng (Edenbridge Racing).
It was only later that the news came out that Duran's car
had a rear wing that was too tall. His times were duly disallowed
and he would be starting the afternoon's race from the back
of the grid.