Season 2003 Results and News
Race No. 9, Round 17
Date: 15 August 2004
Track: Silverstone (5,140 km)
2004 Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 17,
Silverstone, Northamptonshire, August 13th/15th
© Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite

Race Report:
Sunny, cloudy, windy - everything.
This was one of those typical Silverstone races, nothing much happening for most of it, and really quite dull for the casual spectator. And the early start really wasn't helping much.
At the start, both Nelson A Piquet (Piquet Sports) and Danny Watts (Promatecme F3) got away well, the former defending fiercely as James Rossiter (Fortec Motorsport) did his best to get ahead of the Brazilian for the lead. Watts was on such a roll that he was able to demote Adam Carroll (P1 Motorsport) as they flew into Copse for the first time. In the resulting confusion, Will Power (Alan Docking Racing) also got the drop on the P1 driver, which meant he was 4th by the time they reached Becketts. In the Scholarship Class it had all gone to hell in a hand basket for Stephen Jelley (Performance Racing), the pole man wasting a perfectly good opportunity for another win when he selected 5th gear from 2nd on the grid and bogged down horribly. An attempt to make up for lost ground saw him clip James Winslow (Reon Racing), causing both of them to retire. In Jelley's case, the steering was bent on the car, and he'd sprained his thumb when the wheel whipped round. Winslow drove round for a lap with a badly deflating left rear tyre then he too had to pit and throw in the towel. You'd think that would let Ryan Lewis (T-Sport) into the lead; not a bit off it. He made an equally terrible start, and had to hack past Vasilije Calasan (Promatecme F3) to get the lead back, then fell off and deranged his rear wing so badly that it was something of a wonder that the car continued to stick to the track at all. It looked as if he wouldn't be claiming that title just yet, then, despite the fact that Jelley was out of the equation.
Meanwhile Karun Chandhok (T-Sport) was pushed off by Clivio Piccione (Carlin Motorsport), who was trying to avoid Marcus Marshall (Fortec Motorsport) after the latter possibly jumped the start. The result was that they both ended up on the grass, which did neither of them any good. They all recovered but it was a brief mad moment that none of them needed, and Piccione was soon past the Australian and in hot pursuit of Danilo Dirani (Carlin Motorsport), teammate or no teammate.
At the front things looked stable, with Piquet leading. In fact it looked as if the race was pretty much at an end, at least as far as anyone else was concerned. Rossiter couldn't quite match the Brazilian's pace, and Watts was simply waiting to see if the youngster would make a mistake. Power was holding the gap to Carroll nice and steady. Behind him, Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing) was trying to stay out of the clutches Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport) and Rob Austin in the Menu Motorsport car, while Austin's brief was simply to make sure he came home ahead of Fairuz Fauzy, formerly of Menu and now at Promatecme F3, his fifth team in less than two years. Austin was succeeding, and had the Malaysian just behind him. It was unlikely that Fauzy would find a way past the vastly more experienced (and arguably far more talented) Austin, so all he could do was hope that Lucas di Grassi (Hitech Racing) didn't catch up with him. Di Grassi meanwhile, was far more concerned about Dirani, who was all over him. Of course, behind them, Piccione was just waiting for the opportune moment to present itself, his car clearly so much faster than the pair of them.
And while everyone settled into a procession, Piquet slowly drew away from the pack, not pulling out quite as substantial a lead as he had at Oulton Park, but looking very much like a Champion in waiting, at long last.
By the time the race was a third of the way over, Piquet was nearly a second clear and could relax a little. Could, but didn't. Which was probably wise really. The minute you start to relax in those sort of circumstances it becomes far too easy to lose concentration and do something really stupid; he wasn't going to have that happen, not with Rossiter waiting in the wings. Two things provided the only excitement left. You could watch Piccione, who took one more lap to get past Dirani before going after di Grassi in an attempt to get back into the top ten. Alternatively, there was the Scholarship Class, where Calasan was back in the lead, but was being hunted down by Ronayne O'Mahony (Performance Racing). O'Mahony was closing rapidly and looked to be set for his first win in the class. Certainly there was nothing that Calasan could do to stop the Irishman. O'Mahony was helped when Calasan had to avoid a dramatically slowing Marshall, the Australian exiting the race with a dead battery. The trouble was, having finally passed the Frenchman, O'Mahony was struck by a master switch failure, everything on the car simply stopping working. Calasan had the class lead back for the third time, and this time he would get to keep it. It was becoming a question of survival back there. You knew things weren't normal when Lewis was being lapped, and was running last him the class, behind Lars Sexton (Planet Racing), who seemed set for a podium place. It was all very odd really.
In the final stages of the race, Parente fell victim to Austin when they came up to lap Lewis, and just for good measure, Fauzy went past the Portuguese too. He then found himself being chased down by Piccione who had finally found a way round di Grassi. Afterwards, the Monegasque reckoned di Grassi was making far too big a thing of defending a solitary point, but then, he was pretty glad of it himself…and really, that was it.
Piquet claimed a point for fastest lap, and came home an easy winner. Behind him Rossiter held off Watts, while Power and Carroll took the next two places. Asmer was 6th, from Austin, who had done all that was asked of him and beaten Fauzy to 7th, while Parente and Piccione were 9th and 10th. Outside the points, di Grassi was 11th, from Dirani, a lacklustre Karun Chandhok (T-Sport), Andrew Thompson (Hitech Racing) and James Walker, also of Hitech. The Scholarship Class went to Calasan, to everyone's surprise including his own it seemed, while Sexton was 2nd, and Lewis 3rd. despite the state of his rear wing and the fact that he was a lap down. He still wasn't champion though, even when you added in the point for fastest lap…



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