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Archive for June, 2008

CarlinCarlin Motorsport took a 1-2-3 finish at the team’s home race of the season at Thruxton today, in round 12 of the 2008 British F3 Series. Brendon Hartley drove a flawless race to take his second victory of the day, leading home Oliver Turvey in second place and Jaime Alguersuari in third. Sam Abay crossed the line in ninth place. In the National Class Andy Meyrick made his way through the field to take third place, just ahead of team mate Kristjan Einar in fourth.

It was an all Carlin front row as the lights went out, with Hartley on pole ahead of Racing Steps Foundation driver Turvey. Both drivers made a good getaway, with Turvey challenging for the lead into the first corner. Hartley held his ground however to lead the field across the line for the first time. By lap two, the order was Hartley first, Turvey second with Alguersuari third, while Sam Abay had made a great start to move up to ninth from his 11th placed grid slot. In the National Class, Andy Meyrick was flying, having moved up to third place from the back of the grid.

Hartley saw his 1.6 second lead evaporate on lap 15, as the first and only safety car of the weekend came out following an incident involving Atte Mustonen. As racing recommenced on lap 18, Hartley found himself under pressure from second placed man Turvey, while Alguersuari had Sergio Perez challenging for third. As the cars came round to complete lap 19 all three drivers had maintained their positions, which they held to the chequered flag to take Carlin’s fifth 1-2-3 finish in British F3.

Speaking about his second win of the day, Hartley said, “I’m really pleased to have taken two wins this weekend, it means I’m back in contention for the championship. I made a good start and managed to pull out a bit of a gap on Oliver. The restart was quite difficult, it’s so hard to keep people behind you here and stop them getting a slip stream past, so I was really pleased to keep the lead at the restart. The team have done a fantastic job to give us a great car this weekend. I think all the drivers have worked together very well over the last few weeks to develop a really good set up and it paid off today.”

Team principal Trevor Carlin added, “Obviously it’s a dream weekend for the team. It’s a great result for the technical team back at our factory in Chessington who have done a lot of hard work to help get the cars bang on the pace. I was very impressed with the way the top three drivers raced; they gave nothing away but raced fairly. Hopefully we can build on this at the next race at Brands Hatch.”

Antonio Felix da Costa

António Félix da Costa took part in the third round of the Formula Renault Northern European Cup, held this weekend in the Finnish track of Alastaro, adding another podium finish to his growing collection.

In the first qualifying session, even if he had set the 4th fastest time, António was relegated to 9th position on the starting grid because there were yellow flags on the track at the time he made his fastest lap. In the second session, however, the Portuguese rookie put in a very fast lap, and was rewarded with a front row spot, less than 0.3s from pole.

On the first race of the weekend, António had an excellent start, moving up 4 places going into the first corner, and completing the first lap in 4th position. Unfortunately, due to inexperience, the Portuguese let his car roll slightly before the red lights went on and received a stop and go penalty, finishing in 14th place.

In the second race, António Félix da Costa had a great start from 2nd place on the grid and went into the first corner slightly ahead of the up to then unbeatable Valtteri Bottas. The two team mates fought through the first corners and António had to settle for 2nd place, keeping this position until the end of the race.

According to the young Portuguese driver: “It was unfortunate to get that penalty in the first race, as I felt capable of fighting for the first place. I’m getting closer to Bottas all the time. Considering this is his 2nd year I am still doing my first races, I have to be very satisfied with my results so far and very optimistic for the upcoming races. We had another great podium finish in the second race and I leave Alastaro in 3rd place in the overall standings and as best rookie.”

The next Formula Renault NEC event takes place in Oschersleben, Germany, on July 5th and 6th, and António Félix da Costa will be back in action with his sights set on 2nd place in the Championship.

16 year-old Swede Felix Rosenqvist continued to shine this weekend, as Formula Asia 2.0 travelled to Sepang and Malaysia for the second time this year. Having won two out of what was then three races during the last event one month ago, Rosenqvist upped the pace even further to control car and competitors to perfection, winning both of the weekend’s races comfortably from Pole Position. The Swedish driver now leads the Championship by a convincing 27 points, and also became the first driver of the year to secure a double hat trick after recording the fastest lap in both races to add to his race wins and qualifying performances.

“A warm, tough and incredibly satisfactory weekend”, Rosenqvist says. “I always put pressure on myself and want to extract more from my driving, but this time everything went well and I’m very pleased with the way things developed in Malaysia. As a racing driver, you always want to be the fastest in all sessions, and that is exactly what I achieved this weekend – even though my fellow competitors made it difficult at times! I would like to credit my March3 Racing mechanics and engineers for flawless work throughout the event, and am looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Race 1, which took place on Saturday and was run in intense heat, saw Rosenqvist cross the finish line a full 13,5 seconds clear of second-placed Yuki Iwasaki. The Sunday race was even more straightforward as Felix kept a pace almost one second a lap faster than anyone else, and the margin to the chasing pack – led home by team mate Zhu Dai Wei – increased to 16 seconds by the chequered flag. The Formula Asia 2.0 season now enters a well-deserved summer break, giving teams and drivers the chance to relax before action resumes with rounds six and seven later this year.

“It feels fantastic to leave Sepang knowing that my Championship challenge is actually looking pretty good at the moment”, Rosenqvist concludes. “I will try my best to manage the advantage next race weekend as well, but I know how difficult it can be and will take absolutely nothing for granted. However, I do feel stronger than ever right now, and will be going flat out to win the title already this year.”

Adam ChristodoulouAdam Christodoulou will be drafted in as a driver coach for rounds 9 and 10 of the Avon tyres British GT Championship on 28th / 29th June at Thruxton. Championship driver, Craig Wilkins, who is currently lying in 17th position, has requested Adam to be on hand to give his expert advice to guide the team to success at Thurxton.

GT driver Craig Wilkins, Kingsbury Jig and Tool, said, ‘I am really pleased to have Adam on board for the Thruxton race especially after his blinding performance in the Formula Renault UK race at Thruxton early this season. Adam secured two pole positions, 1 win and broke the lap record. I believe with Adams experience of this track he is the man to help us. I’m really happy that I decided to be a major sponsor for Adam this year and have already pledged a major sponsorship package for him next year.’

The British GT Championship boasts superb grids of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Vipers, Aston Martins and Porsches resulting in some of the most competitive GT endurance racing anywhere in Europe.

Team ABG Motorsport have had excellent success at Knockhill and believe with Adams help they can recreate this at Thruxton.

Adams Formula Renault team, CR Scuderia also race in the Avon tyres British GT Championship in Ferraris 430 and are currently lying in 2nd, 3rd and 4th. CR Scuderia Team princlipe, Andrew Kirkaldy said, ‘The team are especially strong at Thruxton and we also will be asking advise from Adam about the circuit, but we know from the tests that we will be looking after our tyres and expect to be very strong in qualifying and over a long race distance. We intend to leave Thruxton tightening up the Championship.’

Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship was pleased to announce yesterday that the series has arranged to provide fans with on-demand video of the Atlantic Series races this season.

While the television package for the 2008 is still being finalized for the series, Atlantic fans can catch up by enjoying the online video archives found on the official Atlantic Championship web site, www.atlantic-championship.com. Video of the 2008 season opener, the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach is now available in the video player located on the front page of the Atlantic site, and last month’s Monterey Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, is currently being processed and will also be available online soon! Videos of subsequent races will be posted on the series’ offical website as soon after the race weekends as they are available.

“This is awesome news!” exclaimed Wirth. “There’s been a lot of extra work for everyone at the Atlantics this year since the Champ Car World Series merged with Indy Car. I know everyone’s been really busy trying to pull things together so we can have a fantastic run this year, but it hasn’t been easy. Thankfully, Mazda Motorsports has shown their commitment to our success and have been supporting the Atlantics staff in their efforts and things are starting to come together! I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our sponsors and supporters of the Atlantic Series, especially everyone that supports me in the #88 WIRSOL/SUEBA USA entry. Thank you for sticking with us and believing in the long history of the Atlantics – without your help we wouldn’t be racing! More than anything, I’m happy that these companies and investors will finally be rewarded with some of the exposure they deserve, and hopefully it’ll only get better.”

Andreas is also happy to announce that progress is being made elsewhere, and he encourages you to keep an eye out for his new website which is scheduled to be launched prior to his next race at Mont-Tremblant at the end of the month. “I’ll be glad when my new site finally goes live! The planning stages and work involved in this total re-build have taken much longer than we’d hoped, but I know all of the long hours and hard work will be worth it!” explained Andreas. “We’re going to have a lot of cool new features – downloadable autographs and wallpaper, a gallery full of photos right back to my early days in racing, news and appearance schedules that will be updated regularly – it’s going to be awesome! I’m also glad to tell you that more and more of my supporters are getting on board for the Racing Realities Prediction Contest! It’s growing so much that we’ve decided to award more than just one prize this year, including products from HiRev Skincare and UPR Racing Supply. Check out www.RacingRealities.com for all of the details and get your predictions in – it’s not too late to win, and I appreciate seeing my fans getting involved!”

Round 3 of Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda takes place on June 29th in beautiful Mont-Tremblant, Quebec – don’t miss the action, make plans now to attend! Visit www.lecircuit.com for event information and tickets. We hope to see you there!

Adam Christodoulou

Adam Christodoulou, who is leading the Formula Renault UK Championship with CR Scuderia, heads for Silverstone this weekend for rounds 11 and 12 of the Championship.

With four different race winners so far this season Adam has made a consistent start, he hopes to build on the positive momentum and is eyeing up podium finishes in Northampton circuit.

Adam currently has a 20-point lead over his cousin and is looking to extend his lead after testing he was 2nd quickest at Silverstone earlier on this year.

The biggest problem with Silverstone GP is that the track is very hard on the tyres. The team and Adam are concerned that the tyres may wear before the end of the race incurring a high speed blow out.

Adams approach for the weekend is to go and acquire some sensible race positions with steady points. Winning isn’t the important issue here, its just to finishing the race that counts.

This weekend will see huge crowds watch the Formula Renault single-seater cars battle it out over this world-famous track along side the World Series.

The crowds are expected to be in excess of 250,000, especially with the good weather set for the weekend.

Adam said, “It’s a great privilege to be able to race on the Silverstone GP circuit, to think that all of my hero’s in F1 have raced here and that I’ll be able to drive my Formula Renault UK car here this weekend. Its going to be fantastic to compare all of the UK drviers that are running in our Championship against the like for likes of the European drivers driving in the Formula Renault Eurocup Championship at the same time. I wonder who will be the quickest. I can’t wait for the weekend to begin.’

Adam Christodoulou

Teenage racing driver Adam Christodoulou shrugged off a difficult day to win round nine of the 2008 Formula Renault UK with Michelin Championship at North Yorkshire’s Croft circuit on Sunday, 1st June. Torrential rain during the day led to the race being delayed several times but the 18-year-old kept his cool to win his fifth race of the season in the championship previously won by Kimi Räikkönen (2000) and Lewis Hamilton (2003).

The delays in the timetable of the British Touring Car Championship meeting, where Formula Renault UK is a supporting series, mean round 10 has been postponed and is now scheduled to be held on Saturday, 12th July at Snetterton circuit. Rounds 13 and 14 will then be held on Sunday, 13th July.

In stark contrast to the atrocious weather on Sunday, the two 20-minute qualifying sessions on Saturday, 31st May were held in scorching conditions. Due to tyre wear at the 2.13-mile circuit, each driver had a small optimum window in which to set their fastest lap time. In the first session, Adam piloted his CR Scuderia Formula Renault car to Michelin pole position with a time of 1min 17.497s (98.71mph), just 0.167s ahead of Alexander Sims. Adam then took fourth on the grid for round 10, which will be his starting place when the race is eventually held.

Although the Croft circuit had been deluged by rain earlier in the day, a dry racing line allowed all drivers to start the race on slick tyres. Adam led away from pole position ahead of Sims and his cousin Riki Christodoulou (Sutton Coldfield). After a short Safety Car spell, Sims closed up on Adam under braking for Tower Bend at the restart but was unable to get alongside to overtake.

With the top three evenly matched on pace and only one dry line available, there was little chance of overtaking as they lapped in almost identical times throughout the 15-lap race. A minor slip by Sims at the Complex on lap 10 saw Adam’s lead increase by 0.2s and he added a further tenth of a second on lap 12 before Sims hit back to reduce the gap to half a second once again as the game of cat and mouse continued.

The last lap began with Adam holding a 0.521s advantage over Sims. At the end of the race the margin of 0.502s was representative of how evenly matched the pair had been throughout, with Adam taking his fifth lights-to-flag win of the season.

Commenting on the race, which was shown live on ITV4 as part of the channel’s BTCC coverage, Adam said: “It felt like such a long race because there was just no getting away from Alexander and Riki. There was only half a car’s width either side of the main racing line and I did have a couple of moments on the first lap where I nearly ran into trouble but luckily kept it together. It’s great to get another win and it’s good for the overall championship position.”

The Formula Renault UK Championship teams and drivers have just three rest days before their next track action, which is free practice ahead of rounds 11 and 12 at Silverstone Grand Prix circuit as part of World Series by Renault. The free motorsport festival takes place on 7th/8th June at the Northamptonshire venue, where today’s Formula Renault UK drivers hope to race later in their careers.

Adam Christodoulou

Adam Christodoulou continued his 2008 Formula Renault Championship campaign at Croft today with another masterful victory, his fifth of the season. The 18 year-old started the race from pole position, his third pole in a row, and took a confident win after leading all the way in tricky conditions. Adams confidence builds from race to race he’s now led races for a total of 96 laps.

The race was almost a non-starter as heavy rain in North Yorkshire meant that the first British Touring Car race of the day had to be aborted as the tin-tops struggled to race through the standing water at Croft. If the heavier touring cars couldn’t cope with the amount of water on the track then it would have been disastrous for the light and nimble single-seaters so the start of race one was put right back. The track eventually dried up enough for racing to commence but the delays meant that only round nine was run. Round ten has been postponed until a later date which is still to be confirmed. Adam got away well at the start and led the race from lights to flag but he was chased all the way by Alexander Sims and his cousin Riki Christodoulou.

Adam has extended his lead over his cousin Riki and now heads to Silverstone with a 20-point lead in the Championship.

Adam Christodoulou:
“Croft isn’t the easiest circuit in the dry so with it being half wet/half dry today it was trickier than ever. I knew that as long as I got a decent start I would be okay as there was only one dry line around the track. Alexander (Sims) and Riki (Christodoulou) pushed me all the way so I had to be careful, especially through the last corner where there was a wider line, but it was great to take win number five. We now go straight into the next two rounds at Silverstone next weekend. I was second fastest in the test there but I know I’m quicker now. As ever the target is two race wins so that’s what we will be heading out to achieve.”

CRS Team Director, Andrew Kirkaldy:
“We really didn’t expect to get pole position here but Adam did a fantastic job in qualifying and that was that. It’s good to see him notch up another victory as he has been working incredibly hard for it. Silverstone next weekend should be good for us. We had a couple of days testing there before the test ban kicked in and we’re pretty happy with the track so hopefully we’ll have another good weekend.”

Michael DoyleHiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship rookie Michael Doyle secured his, and the In-Tune Racing team’s, maiden overall top 10 BTCC finish at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire today, Sunday, 1st June, during an absolutely rain-lashed 13th round of the season.

The 20-year-old Scottish sensation, from Gartocharn on the banks of Loch Lomond, proved beyond any shadow of a doubt he has the ability and pace to be a genuine star in the UK’s biggest motor racing championship on the back of this afternoon’s performance at a track he classes as a semi-home venue.

Ending the first of today’s three BTCC races in a superb ninth position overall – ahead of front-runners Andrew Jordan, Mat Jackson, Tom Onslow-Cole and SEAT Sport UK pairing Jason Plato and Darren Turner – the result also saw Michael secure his best finish in the Independents Trophy with sixth place.

“I’m very happy with the performance we produced this weekend”, said Michael, “We improved the car throughout and although we had a few problems and niggles during the build-up, in the first race we showed just what we can do when the car is working well and when we’re on a level playing field with the bigger teams.”

Today’s atrocious weather played havoc with the timetable and conditions were in stark contrast to the glorious sunshine experienced during qualifying on Saturday where Michael recorded the 19th fastest time with a lap of 1m 28.625 seconds (86.31mph).

However, the drenched track and persistent rain acted as a welcome leveller for Michael’s team as it battles the resources of the bigger squads.

At the start of round 13, Michael made up good ground and on the opening lap he was into 15th position and pushing hard to catch the MG ZS of Jason Hughes ahead. He was soon into 13th place and a first ever BTCC points finish looked firmly on the cards.

Red flags were shown on lap five though after the Honda Integra of Alan Taylor collided with the already stranded BMW of Stephen Jelley at Tower Bend.

Counted back a lap, the classification showed Michael in 14th place and therefore he was in that position on the grid for the re-start. Problems with his Honda’s battery did look as though Michael wouldn’t be able to start from the grid but, very thankfully, he managed to fire the car up before going on to make a terrific getaway as others struggled for grip.

Running in 10th place as he approached Sunny In, the In-Tune racer then passed Harry Vaulkhard under braking to take ninth. The Safety Car appeared at the start of lap two due to another car off at Tower and red flags followed for a second time soon after. On the grounds of safety due to the terrible conditions, the race was then declared a result.

Driving beautifully on the soddened track, Michael underlined his prowess given the right equipment and looked forward to producing more of the same in round 14. He looked set for another top 10 too early on, but a gearbox problem on lap two was the start of an eventual retirement which came on lap seven – the issue also meant he missed round 15.

“In race two I had a reasonable start and through the first few corners I had a good battle with Adam Jones and Mike Jordan”, said Michael, “Everything looked good and I think we had the chance to fight for another top 10 but as I came to brake at Tower on my second lap, the gearbox got stuck between sixth and fifth so I couldn’t stop the car.

“I ended up in the crop field on the outside. I rejoined a long way down but in the end I had to pit as the problem got worse. It was such a shame the weather caused problems with the timetable as, if the third race had started as originally scheduled, we’d have had the car ready in time for round 15. We just needed about another 15 minutes.”

With a full six weeks to wait until the next BTCC event of the season at Snetterton in Norfolk on 12th/13th July, Michael and his In-Tune Racing team will make good use of the break to try and attract some vital sponsorship to enable them to build on the excellent promise they showed at Croft this weekend.

He added: “Hopefully we’ll make it to Snetterton, it’s all budget dependant but hopefully the result we achieved today will go some way to helping us attract more sponsors. I had a lot of fun in the car today and I really enjoyed racing in the top 10. With the right backing, we know that’s where we can be on a regular basis.”

Action from today’s Croft races will be shown on Britain’s number one commercial television channel ITV1 late tomorrow night, Monday, 2nd June, at 00.50 – additional replays will be screened on Freeview, digital satellite and cable station ITV4 later in the week. Please check listings for more details.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.