Season 2003 Results and News
Race No. 3, Round 5
Date: 02 May 2004
Track: Croft (2,127 miles/3,423 km)
2004 Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 5,
Croft, Yorkshire, May 1st/2nd
© Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite

Race Results:
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 earlier… 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!



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