F3 International Series, Round 17, Nürburgring, Germany,
September 2nd/3rd 2005 © Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria
Hot, sunny, dry.
After incredibly healthy grids at Monza and Silverstone, we
are down two drivers, with Ricardo Teixeira (Carlin Motorsport)
and Ben Clucas (Fluid Motorsport) both missing this round.
The Angolan is apparently still suffering from the back injury
he collected at Silverstone (though there were suggestions
of money issues too), while Clucas simply does not have enough
budget left to travel as well as race.
As usual Ryan Lewis (T-Sport) was the first one out onto the
track. It never does him any good, but they repeatedly do
While a number of the competitors opted to
sit in the pit lane for the opening minutes, Lewis went charging
round the Eifel Mountains looking for that elusive pole position.
Someone else who wasn't hanging around in the pits was Steven
Kane, but then the Promatecme F3 driver was struck down with
a severe misfire in the morning test session and hadn't actually
completed a lap in his Lola yet. It really is beginning to
look as if any bad luck in the paddock ends up going his way
these days. If there's such a thing as the luck of the Irish
(well at any rate the Northern Irish) then Steve has the complete
opposite of it. However, it wasn't long before he was back
in the pits, so maybe they still haven't cured the problem.
With Lewis enjoying a temporary sojourn at the top of the
order, he was quickly joined in battle by Dan Clarke (Double
R Racing) and Mike Conway (Fortec Motorsport). Clarke edged
ahead, and Conway sandwiched him, only for James Walker (Hitech
Racing) to leap up to 2nd as well. Bruno Senna (Double R Racing)
was another early shower, in 4th, but it didn't look as if
any of them would be staying up there for too long, especially
as the Carlin boys hadn't gone out to play. The first to emerge
was Alvaro Parente, the series leader seeming very relaxed
right now. He didn't seem in any hurry to get on track, and
as the session developed it seemed he may well have been adopting
the right attitude. While he was busy warming up his tyres,
Lewis was busy at the front, leaping back up the order to
2nd place, only to be pushed straight back down a place by
In the National Class, Josh Fisher was heading the order in
his Team SWR car, so maybe him uncharacteristically shaving
before a race makes you quicker. Salvador Duran (P1 Motorsport)
would undoubtedly have something to say about it, but at present
the West Countryman was enjoying being on top of the pile.
Back at the front - as it were - things were not running according
to plan, because all of the Carlin cars were outside the top
ten, with Christian Bakkerud being highest up in an unaccustomed
13th, with Charlie Kimball languishing in 17th and Parente
19th. You had to wonder if Trevor Carlin had some sort of
cunning plan, because if he did now was the time to unveil
it. It looked a little more promising a lap later when Bakkerud
shot up to 7th, but then it all went quite again. While Walker
was still trying to trouble the top 3, the two distant Carlin
boys finally appeared in the top ten, with Parente claiming
a provisional 3rd, and Kimball grabbing 5th. Meanwhile, Conway
was on pole, but he wasn't going to be allowed to keep it
for long. Less than two minutes later Parente was back and
pole was his by a quarter of a second. And no one would be
able to take it off him.
Dirani was trying to get on terms with the Portuguese, and
was now 2nd, but again he didn't get to stay there. Marko
Asmer (Hitech Racing) was looking very keen to salvage something
from this season, and he was next to move into 2nd place.
To no one's particular surprise, Parente promptly went even
faster, and edged away from the Estonian.
At the halfway mark the order was Parente, from Asmer, Dirani,
Conway, Clarke, Walker, Kimball, Senna, Lewis and Duran. Bakkerud
was 11th, from a seriously dispirited Tim Bridgman (Hitech
Racing). Charlie Hollings (Promatecme F3) was ahead of Ronayne
O'Mahony (Fortec Motorsport), Stephen Jelley (Menu Motorsport),
Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing), Karl Reindler (Alan
Docking Racing), Kane who had just emerged from the pits,
and Fisher. Barton Mawer (T-Sport) was 20th, from Juho Annala
(Alan Docking Racing), Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport) Cheong
Lou Meng (Edenbridge Racing), Nick Jones (Team SWR) and Michael
Herck (Junior Racing Team), the Invitation Class Belgian having
been delayed with an engine problem, and thus having not actually
set a flying lap time yet.
Apart from progress from Kane and Herck, that was close to
being the end of a fairly pedestrian session. Senna did manage
to demote Kimball, while nearly everyone else dived from the
pits, including Parente, who collected a flat tyre during
his later pole-securing effort. He wasn't showing much of
an inclination to go back out, and he wasn't the only one.
Kimball pitted for quite a long time, though he at least did
go back out. Sadly it didn't help him any, and even with no
one else in the top ten still out there, he couldn't squeeze
any more speed out of his Avons. Not only that, but he couldn't
quite get the car balanced to his liking, so it seemed that
anything more in the way of progress was simply not possible.
He would have to settle for 8th, though no doubt he still
believes he can go racing from there.
Apart from the American's efforts, the only real interest
now was watching to see if Herck could set a time faster than
13 minutes (!), which he quickly did. He was up to 16th after
his very first flying lap, and was able to gain four more
places before the session ended. Kane, on the other hand,
wasn't having anywhere near as good a late session run. He
was up as far as 15th, but Herck's final effort (which put
the Belgian 12th) pushed him back to 15th by the end of the
session. By the time the chequered flag came out there was
hardly anyone left on the track. This was a bit awkward, as
they were all supposed to return to park ferme via the last
turn, but most of them were sitting in the pitlane and so
had to be pushed away and sent round the long way.
Anyway, once the dust settled Parente was on pole for the
10th time this year, with Asmer, Dirani, Conway, Clarke, Walker,
Senna, Kimball, Lewis and Championship Class pole man Duran.
In 11th was Bakkerud, who seems to be being troubled with
the same misfire he had at Silverstone, from Herck, Bridgman,
O'Mahony, Kane, Hollings, Jelley, Kennard, Mawer and Reindler.
Fisher was unusually low in the order in 21st, from a frustrated
Annala, and what sounds like the Hong Kong firm of solicitors,
Ihara, Cheong and Jones.