F3 International Series, Rounds 1 & 2, Castle Donington,
April 2nd/3rd 2005
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas
After a somewhat eventful first session, the second session
of the day proved even more troublesome for Ricardo Teixeira
(Carlin Motorsport). The Angolan driver stopped at Redgate
and had some trouble getting going again. Meanwhile, both
Daniel Clarke (Double R Racing) and Steven Kane (Promatecme
F3) had announced in advance that they would be late out
As it turned out, Clarke wasn't especially late. Kane, on
the other hand was, as the team made a desperate attempt to
get the car working more effectively than it had in the morning.
Ryan Lewis (T-Sport) went on the offensive early on, setting
an early pole position, though he was being challenged hard
by Mike Conway (Fortec Motorsport) and Charlie Hollings (Promatecme
F3), who was in pursuit of the National Class pole. While
they were scrapping, Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing) was keen
to make up for being beaten to pole for round one, but the
results to begin with weren't too good. The Estonian got it
all very sideways, and then dropped his wheels in the dirt
coming out of the Chicane. Someone else trying to make up
for their morning session was Charlie Kimball (Carlin Motorsport),
the American not keen to start two races from the back. He
had pole temporarily, but he'd bargained without Susie Stoddart
(Alan Docking Racing). She edged him out of pole, and a lap
later went even faster.
While those with working order cars were able to continue
looking for improvements, Teixeira was forced to pit with
an engine problem. After running out of brakes in the morning,
he could be forgiven for feeling that things were conspiring
against him. He would lose a lot of the session in the pits
while the team tried to solved the problem. Conway was still
pushing on, while Tim Bridgman (Hitech Racing) was trying
to emulate his teammate's efforts, despite being a rookie.
The order kept on changing, and now Kimball was back on top
again. Josh Fisher (Team SWR Pioneer) was again showing a
tremendous turn of speed and was, temporarily at least, on
the front row, as well as on National Class pole. He was just
ahead of Stoddart, and would stay there for quite some time.
Meanwhile, his teammate, Nick Jones, was having an interesting
time of it, taking the Chicane backwards, and then having
to be rescued. Once again, the yellow flags were being waved
frantically, and everyone was slowing up as the mess was cleared
Danilo Dirani (P1 Motorsport) wasn't slowing down any, and
was quick to capitalise on some clear track, shooting up the
order to 2nd. Another sudden improvement came from Christian
Bakkerud (Carlin Motorsport), who had been languishing in
19th, but was now 5th, at least until he got pushed back down
the order by Conway.
With Fisher now on class pole, Hollings pitted for new tyres,
starting something of a rush. Conway wasn't about to quit
quite so easily. He put in a flyer to go 2nd, but was again
demoted when Dirani snatched pole, and the Stoddart moved
into 2nd. Stephen Jelley (Menu Motorsport) was another looking
for a better session than he'd had in the morning, but the
team still hadn't got the car running properly, and he was
continuing to have a dreadful time out there.
Bruno Senna wasn't having a lot of fun either. The Double
R Racing driver seemed rather chastened after his display
in the morning, and was nowhere near as fast as he had been,
sitting in 12th, a half dozen places back from his teammate,
Daniel Clarke, who of course has the advantage of knowing
this track very well. Lewis, meanwhile, joined the pit rush,
only to get in trouble later and have to be brought back on
a truck, the car looking somewhat second-hand. Some while
later he was still trying to work out what had happened, having
found himself going backwards at Coppice with no warning whatsoever.
"It came as something of a surprise," was all he
could say in his own defence.
Next up Kimball took a turn to head the times, while Suk Sandher
(Performance Racing) was top of the National Class. And then
everyone had to go back to the pits, because Cheong Lou Meng
(Edenbridge Racing) had managed to throw himself into the
gravel at the Craner Curves. With the car in a dangerous position,
the officials had no option but to red flag the session, just
as Barton Mawer (T-Sport) took class pole from Sandher.
It didn't take long for Cheong to be brought back on a truck.
The car was looking very sorry for itself. The nose had been
ripped off, and the corners didn't look too good either. Team
boss Pete Briggs was less than impressed when he saw it. A
lot of the other drivers weren't exactly impressed either,
having had to abandon quick laps, though Kane was probably
very thankful for the delay. The Northern Irishman was able
to get out as soon as the session restarted, and still had
the best part of 20 minutes to make an impression.
And so, everyone wandered back out to play. The track conditions
seemed to have changed significantly during the stoppage though,
and it proved difficult for some individuals to get to grips
with the state of the Tarmac. Sandher ran wide at the Old
Hairpin, as did Bridgman, and they weren't alone in this.
Sandher was straight back to the pits at the end of his lap
to have significant amounts of greenery hauled out of various
Next to come a cropper was Christian Bakkerud
(Carlin Motorsport), the Dane getting into a spin at Redgate
and spending a lot of time stranded in the face of the oncoming
traffic before he was finally able to get moving again. It
must have felt like an eternity.
To begin with most of the battle seemed to be for the mid-field
places, with Bridgman now 9th, from James Walker (Fortec Motorsport).
However, at the front Dirani wasn't done yet. He was second,
but he was trying hard to get that pole position. Stoddart
leapt back up to 5th, while Clarke snatched pole, only to
lose it to Conway, who almost immediately lost it to Asmer.
Dirani then went faster than all of them. Stoddart set the
fastest time of the session so far through the first sector,
but then had to haul on the anchors when she found Senna off
at Coppice. And just for good measure, while the Brazilian
was inconveniencing people there, Walker went off at the Hairpin.
Like Senna he was also able to get going again, but all of
this was slowing everyone up. Presented with the opportune
moment, Asmer grabbed his chance, taking his first pole of
There was very little time left, though Dirani was still trying
his hardest to get that top slot back from Asmer. He just
couldn't quite manage it. Still, the two of them had pretty
well sewn up the front row for the weekend. Despite this there
were still one or two improvements to come. Bakkerud moved
up the order to 8th, while Lewis was now 9th. The most significant
change came though when Kane, in a last-minute fit of bravado
or something, rocketed up the order from 12th to 5th. The
Lola really was looking good. Someone not looking quite so
good was Bridgman. He made a late pit stop, only just managing
to slow down in time to avoid the speed trap in the pit lane.
Conway was another who came in late, squeezing back out with
less than a minute of track time available at the end of his
out lap. As it turned out, he was wasting his efforts, and
there was no improvement to his position. He would have to
settle for 3rd. Clarke was 4th, just ahead of Kimball, who'd
redeemed himself with this performance. However, he couldn't
relax because he had Kane next to him. Bakkerud ended the
session in 7th, from Walker, Senna and Stoddart.
11th overall, and top of the National Class, was Mawer, while
Ronayne O'Mahony (Fortec Motorsport) was 12th, feeling much
better for finally managing to eat for the first time in three
days ("Chicken, pasta, cakes, doughnuts, everything!").
The trouble was the sugar seemed to be doing odd things to
his head, and he reckoned he was more than a little light-headed.
Bridgman ended up 13th, ahead of Salvador Duran (P1 Racing),
who was second in the National Class. Lewis, after spinning
out, was 15th, from Fisher, Sandher, Alan Docking Racing's
Jonathan Kennard, and Hollings. Jelley was 20th and not happy,
though he wasn't last in the Championship Class. That dubious
honour went to Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport). Behind her,
Juho Annala (Alan Docking Racing) was busy claiming "everybody
has to start from somewhere!" while Jones, Teixeira and
Cheong again brought up the rear.