F3 International Series, Round 8, Knockhill, Fife, May 21st/22nd
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas
Even though the clouds were looking threatening at the start
of the race, the weather stayed dry and relatively pleasant,
the sun finally emerging before the end, all of which made
a very welcome change. After all, we've had fog, hail, thunder
and gallons and gallons of rain. However, there was a little
bit of Brazil that the sun wasn't shining on. Bruno Senna
(Double R Racing) was trapped in the pitlane with a jammed
started motor. The team were running up and down the pitlane,
pushing and rocking the Dallara in an attempt to get it unjammed,
but it just wasn't having it. Eventually, Bruno climbed out,
removed hid helmet, and wandered off, a study in dejection.
And so, 23 drivers lined up on the grid for Round 8 of the
2005 British F3 International Series. Once the lone marshal
was happy that at least three quarters of the grid had lined
up properly, he made a dive for the pitlane, and the gantry
lights glowed red. Seconds later they went out and the race
got underway. Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport) proved he
could start even better in the dry than in the wet, and streaked
into the lead as the man alongside him, Ryan Lewis (T-Sport)
bogged down and lost ground. Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing) saw
it as the perfect opportunity, and charged up into 2nd place
as the field chased round to Scotsman Bend for the first time,
and Mike Conway (Fortec Motorsport) got the drop on Charlie
Kimball (Carlin Motorsport) to lay claim to 4th, just behind
Tim Bridgman in the second Hitech car. Further down, National
Class runner Josh Fisher's race ended with a clunk before
it could start; the Team SWR driver falling victim to a broken
driveshaft and being pushed off the grid by the marshals.
In fact, the National Class was being led by Salvador Duran
(P1 Motorsport), the Mexican looking for another victory.
Second in class was Charlie Hollings (Promatecme F3), who
was making up for the embarrassment that was Croft with a
pair of fine drives today. Behind Hollings, having made up
three places before the first lap was out was Christian Bakkerud
(Carlin Motorsport), the young Dane trying very hard to compensate
for a poor qualifying position. He might well salvage something,
However, most eyes were on Parente, who was in a class of
his own. By the time the field crossed the line for the first
time, he'd already started to break away from Asmer, and was
a couple of car's length ahead, and showing no sign of easing
off. Asmer was increasingly finding Lewis bulking in his mirrors,
while Kimball was getting grief from Walker for 6th place.
That would become 5th when Bridgman got slightly off line
and speared off into the gravel at Scotsman. Having discovered
that if you got off the racing line the track was still very
slippery, he came to rest against the barriers. He wouldn't
be the only driver to make that discovery before the race
While Parente continued to drive away from the pack, setting
a series of fastest laps, the lead changed in the National
Class, with Duran losing ground dramatically, thus handing
the class lead to a grateful Hollings. He also lost out to
Barton Mawer (T-Sport), who promptly set off in single minded
pursuit if Hollings. Meanwhile, Lewis was busy trying to catch
Asmer, using all the available road in his efforts to overhaul
the Estonian. It was a determined and aggressive bit of driving,
and it looked as if it might just work. Certainly on lap 5
he was close enough to have a go. However, he couldn't quite
make it stick, so he settled back in behind the Fortec car
and bided his time.
At the very back of the field there was also a battle, with
Cheong Lou Meng (Edenbridge Racing) finally having to give
way to Ricardo Teixeira (Carlin Motorsport), who was then
able to get on terms with Nick Jones (Team SWR). While the
three of them were apparently having a great time battling
together, it was rather worrying because at the rate Parente
was motoring on, he was going to have to lap them soon.
Parente led Asmer, who had his hands full with Lewis. Behind
Lewis, Conway was maintaining a watching brief, while the
threat Walker was posing to Kimball for that 5th place had
lessened substantially. This was because Steven Kane (Promatecme
F3) was now all over him, largely because Daniel Clarke (Double
R Racing) had run wide and fallen back a little, and thus
had Danilo Dirani (P1 Motorsport) troubling him for position.
This was turning into quite a race, though one battled resolved
itself when Kane dived past Walker on lap 7.
There was a moment when the cloud cover suddenly came back,
though, and for a moment everyone's attention was on the sky.
While that was going on, Asmer went wide at Clarke, and Lewis
seized his chance. Asmer immediately fought back, taking his
place back, only for Lewis to spin at the Hairpin. With the
blue and white car stuck in the middle of the road, it was
touch and go whether everyone would survive. More by luck
than anything else, they did, though Lewis lost a lot of ground.
But if Asmer thought that Lewis falling back would take the
pressure off, he was seriously wrong. Instead, he now had
Conway all over his rear wing. There was to be no peace for
the Estonian. Others who were having an interesting time included
Jelley and Bakkerud. Jelley was another to find that the track
was a lot slippery than you might expect, when he skated off
at Clark and knocked his rear wing off. He limped to the pits
and into retirement. Bakkerud, meanwhile, was being shown
the black-and-white driving standards flag, a reprimand for
taking out one of the infamous Knockhill floppy markers. It
seems to be a Danish tendency; a couple of years ago Jesper
Carlsen got into trouble for doing exactly the same thing.
By lap 10, Parente had caught up with Cheong, who got out
of the way pretty smartly this time. It was as well he was
paying attention, because the battling duo of Asmer and Conway
were slugging it out, even as they began lapping the backmarkers.
It would all go pear-shaped. Jones managed to spin, and was
busy trying to sort himself out, when the second place battle
arrived. They found the American Welshman across the track.
And while Asmer had to slow, Conway went through, only to
lose out again almost immediately. While the Championship
Class lead was never in doubt, the National Class was now
in question. Mawer was all over Hollings, and launched his
attack as the two of them headed across the Start/Finish line
for the 14th time. Mawer tried to squeeze up the inside, but
Hollings held his line, and the Australian had to back off.
It was close though.
A lap later there were more changes. The root cause was a
little bizarre. Teixeira ran wide at the Hairpin, trying to
get out of the way of the front runners as they came up to
lap him. He quickly discovered that there was standing water
in the gravel trap, and as he extracted himself, the water
slopped out onto the track, creating a treacherously slippery
patch. The first person to come to grief on it was Keiko Ihara
(Carlin Motorsport), who ended up having to do a three point
turn to get going again. With waved yellows warning of the
Japanese's predicament, Conway and Asmer arrived almost together.
Asmer went round the long way, while Conway took the inside
line, coming out of the Hairpin ahead of Asmer. As Conway
had made the place under waved yellows, Asmer was pretty confident
he'd get the position back, but there was still a team managers'
dash to the Clerk of the Courses' office almost before the
dust had settled. Asmer made a couple of attempts to get the
place back, but afterwards he claimed he hadn't bothered to
try too hard. However, the way the Estonian was driving, Conway
probably wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of him trying
At the front, Parente was still circulating alone and ahead
of the pack. Conway was trying to play catch up, and Asmer
was waiting for the flag, knowing that even if Conway wasn't
there, his car still isn't fast enough to take on the leader.
Kimball was 4th, and probably a little surprised that no one
had tried to wipe him out yet, while Kane was now 5th. Clarke
was 6th but a long way back and Walker was even further back
in 7th, with Bakkerud, Dirani and Lewis rounding out the top
ten. Dirani was coming under a lot of pressure from Lewis,
though the two of them nearly came to grief when Dirani got
something of a twitch on coming out of the Hairpin. Lewis
made unimpressed gestures, but no harm was done. However,
it was only a short time later that the Brazilian lost the
place to Lewis. With seven laps to go, Ronayne O'Mahony (Fortec
Motorsport) was the next to find that things weren't as benign
as they looked, when he joined the ranks of those who had
slithered off unexpectedly. He ended up facing the wrong way
in the gravel at Butchers, thus putting an end to an unhappy
weekend. It made little difference to anyone else, but the
young Irishman really is struggling so far this season.
Hollings was struggling too, but in his case it was to hang
on to his class lead. Every time he thought he could relax,
Mawer came back again. The Australian was nothing if not persistent.
Again he made the attempt going down towards Scotsman, but
this time he tried to get round the outside. Hollings didn't
need to lean too hard to prevent Mawer coming through, but
even though the threat had been repelled again, the attack
was still not over. Again a lap later Mawer was obviously
sizing the leader up again, but this time he was too far back.
He composed himself and closed the distance again. There were
now five laps left; he could have another go.
Elsewhere, Lewis was attempting to fight his way back, setting
the fastest lap of the race on the way, but then he got trapped
behind Ihara, who seemed to be ignoring the frantically waved
blue flags, and was apparently oblivious to the fact that
a faster driver and car combination was trying to lap her.
She certainly wasn't making it easy for him. It took the best
part of a lap before he could get by and he wasn't too happy
about it, though as he said afterwards everyone else was having
the same problems so he couldn't really complain.
There were three laps left, and the excitement still wasn't
over. For one thing, Mawer had one last shot at Hollings,
but again Charlie simply kept his foot in, and Barton went
slithering onto the grass. He gathered it all together again
quite quickly, not losing a lot of ground, but he seemed to
have finally got the message that no, he couldn't have the
class lead, at least not if Hollings had any say in the matter.
It was something of a surprise that no one else fell off at
the end either, as Asmer suddenly got his place back when
Conway's engine blew up big time, leaving a lot of oil behind
as the car came to a smoky halt at Scotsman, a lap from the
finish. It saved a lot of argument about the yellow flag incident,
but it also cost Conway his championship lead. Parente, who'd
never looked at all flustered, was a cool and collected victor,
with his third series win in a row. Asmer was 2nd, which semi-pleased
him, though he's frustrated because the car just isn't fast
enough to win yet. In 3rd place, and pleased as punch to get
his first finish of the season, was Kimball who was straight
on the phone to him Mom back in the States as soon as he got
off the podium. He couldn't stop smiling afterwards. In 4th
place was Kane, followed by Clarke, Walker, Bakkerud, Lewis,
Dirani, and in 10th, National Class winner, Hollings. 11th
was "Mauler" Mawer, after a fine fight with Hollings,
while Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing) and his teammate
Juho Annala were 3rd and 4th in class. Next up was Duran,
from Ihara, Jones, Teixeira and Cheong. No one else was actually
The extra points for fastest laps went to Lewis (Championship
Class) and Mawer (National Class).
Races: Rounds 9 & 10, Thruxton, Hampshire, May 28th/29th,