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Archive for September, 2011

The Formula Renault 3.5 series will come to a dramatic conclusion in Barcelona next weekend as Carlin team mates Robert Wickens and Jean-Eric Vergne battle it out to be crowned the 2011 champion. There is just two points separating the drivers as they head to the Catalan circuit. Carlin previously secured the team championship at their home round in Silverstone in August.

Paul Ricard last time out brought Vergne back into contention after he was handed back points from his win in Monza on appeal, and claimed two podiums including a race win at his home circuit. Vergne’s points haul now ensures that both Carlin drivers are within touching distance of the crown as they head into the season finale.

Vergne won the first race of the weekend at Paul Ricard with Wickens just behind in second and the final race of the weekend saw Vergne on the podium while Wickens saw his race ruined after a puncture left him at the back of the field.

Next weekend will see both drivers battling it out at the Circuit de Catalunya. The track has played host to the Spanish round of the Formula One season and saw the finale of last years Formula Renault 3.5 series – which was won by Carlin driver Mikhail Aleshin who was crowned 2010 champion.

The 4.655km track is a challenge for all drivers, it is known for being extremely difficult to overtake on however its long straights and chicanes do provide some great wheel to wheel action for spectators to enjoy throughout the weekend.

With only Carlin drivers Wickens and Vergne mathematically able to take the title, the race weekend in Spain will be straight fight as to who can finish ahead of their team mate in both races.

Currently leading the championship by two points Robert Wickens said, “Paul Ricard didn’t go how I had planned however I still have the points lead. I’ve reset the system and worked on a few things and Barcelona will be a better weekend for me.”

Chasing him down, team mate Jean-Eric Vergne said, “I’m really looking forward to the finale. I’ve always loved moments where you have to give everything in racing – and Barcelona will be one of those. I love being the one who has to do the chasing!”

Trevor Carlin added, “We go into this weekend knowing that whatever happens we will finish first and second in the championship. This is an incredible achievement by both the drivers and the team. We will endeavour to provide the drivers with equal opportunities so they alone can decide the outcome of the championship.”

The season final will take place from 7 – 9 October.

Prema PowerteamPrema Powerteam is ready to enter the seventh round of the 2011 Italian Formula 3 Championship, the penultimate of the season. The location will be one of the World’s best, at Mugello, where the Italian-based team has done great in the past. Last year, Andrea Caldarelli cruised to two pole and two wins, with Raffaele Marciello and Michael Lewis ready to follow in his footsteps. The Italian, part of the Ferrari Drivers Academy, is two points off the lead in the rookie standings, and 16 points off the overall championship’s top spot. Michael Lewis is 6th, with still chances for the Ferrari F.1 test set at the end of the season. Andrea Roda is currently battling for a spot in the series’ top-10, which is quite possible for him seen the progress done so far.

Angelo Rosin, Team Principal
“We’ve always scored good results at Mugello. Last year, our drivers proved unbeatable both times the Italian series came here. The track is world-famous for its fast corners and hills, with changes of elevation that force drivers to keep pushing as hard as they can. Next year, Formula 1 will also come to Mugello for a test session, and that’s a further proof of the skills needed on this circuit. In collective testing our cars were among the fastest and we hope do it all again on race day.”

James PeaceJames Peace finished a strong year in the Intersteps Championship claiming 2 wins, 11 podiums, 2 pole positions and 3 fastest laps, but even considering this fantastic set of results, his future is far from certain.

Unlike many of his competitors for the 2011 championship, Peace had only 2 days testing before the season started. “That put me on the back foot for a while”, said James.

Peace knows that in order to be competitive, a rigorous winter programme of testing and training is required whilst at the same time he needs to raise funding for next year. “I am capable of more than I achieved this year and I am looking for funding to show that. My wins at Thruxton weren’t just wins, I dominated that meeting and I intend to do that all next year”, vowed Peace.

Motaworld are keen to retain the services of the 17 year old Oxfordshire driver, but with interest in the series being so high it might be difficult to hold a seat open for Peace. “We are looking at running a 3 or possibly 4 car team next year, so there are options. James is a consistent front runner and his technical ability is top drawer”, stated team principle Alan Waite.

Peace’s budget plight is nothing new in motorsport, however with his results from this year and support from the MSA through the MSA Academy he is a recognised talent that should be supported. “2012 is going to be tough, with focus on a large athletics event taking the limelight, motorsport and its associated industry will have to work harder to gain the column inches it requires, what better way to do that by associating your products or services with a young up and coming talent?”, said James’ manager.

For enquiries please contact info@jamespeace.net

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Fabio OnidiAfter a first day in the highest zone of the timesheets, Scuderia Coloni confirmed themselves at the top of the GP2 field in the second day of the Jerez test. The Italian team closed today’s sessions with the second and fifth quickest time overall, posted by Fabio Onidi and Kevin Ceccon respectively.

Onidi, after a surprising first day in which he was fifth quickest despite being at his debut on the Dallara GP2/11 car, managed to improve to 1’26”843, a staggering performance that was the second best of the whole test and the quickest laptime among the rookies. Ceccon, after focusing on race pace yesterday, was eager to go for some qualifying laps and posted a 1’26”954 that proved to be the fifth quickest lap of the two days, confirming the young italian’s improving trend. In the afternoon both drivers reverted to long-run testing, with Onidi simulating the Race 1 fuel load and Ceccon going for the Race 2 configuration. Both obtained a lot of useful informations on the car behaviour, data that the team will analyze once at the workshop.

Paolo Coloni: “We get back from Spain knowing that we are on the right path. All our three drivers managed to extract top performances from the car, confirming both their skills and the competitiveness of our technical package. Also today we did a very good job from every aspect: when we went for performance in the morning the laptimes came quickly, the proof is that both were posted with the first set of new tyres. In the afternoon we went for race simulations, with some very good results”.

Fabio Onidi: “I’m really satisfied of these two days, I knew I could be quick but being in front straight out of the box was amazing, beyond my expectations frankly speaking. Today our day was again split in two: in the morning we did a proper qualifying simulation, with two sets of new rubber and posting our quickest lap with the first set. In the afternoon we went for an high fuel load, in order to give me the chance to understand how the car and the tyres behave when the car is heavy. All in all I discovered that I like the GP2 car a lot, it suits my driving style perfectly and that’s very important, because it means that I can drive with a lot of confidence”.

Kevin Ceccon: “I was looking forward to the morning session in qualifying trim, and I’m satisfied with the outcome. My feeling with the car is getting better and better compared to my early season races, now I can really drive the GP2/11 on the limit. The fifth quickest time of the two days is a good result, and we could have been even quicker: with the first set of tyres I found some traffic, while with the second I did a pair of mistakes that prevented me from improving. Then in the afternoon, with a lot of fuel, we were ninth which is again very good, considering that we were the only ones in the top pack not using new tyres”.

Menasheh IdafarFresh from taking his third podium of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Donington Park last weekend, Menasheh Idafar posted the 11th quickest lap in testing at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit today, Wednesday, 28th September – the last officially timed run of the season.

Just a week and a half away from the final race meeting of the current campaign at the 3.66-mile Northamptonshire track, the 20-year-old concluded today’s three sessions fairly satisfied with the outcome where he attained a quickest time of 1m55.699 seconds (113.89mph).

Lapping in 1m56.873 seconds (112.75mph) during the opening run, he then improved to 1m56.387 seconds (113.22mph) in the midday session before finding an extra seven 10ths of a second in the third and final outing.

Almost hoisting Menasheh into the overall top 10, his fastest lap of the day placed him 1.2 seconds shy of Kevin Magnussen’s outright best on combined times. In terms of the third session alone, the T-Sport driver was seventh for that run – 0.8 seconds adrift of 2011 British F3 Champion Felipe Nasr.

“I was pretty happy with the last session, seventh wasn’t bad”, said the Dallara-Volkswagen racer, “I had too much oversteer in the beginning but we got that sorted out for the last run. We started too much on the back-foot I guess but caught up well considering that.”

Pre-event practice for the Silverstone GP Circuit rounds, which will run in support of the Blancpain Endurance Series, will take place on Friday, 7th October, with qualifying and round 28 following on Saturday, 8th October, at 10.25 and 14.35 respectively. On Sunday, 9th October, round 29 will begin at around 10.15 with round 30 scheduled to start at 16.10.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd27):
14th Menasheh Idafar, 41pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Seb Morris is edging closer to the Ginetta Junior crown as the championship heads to Brands Hatch this weekend, October 1st/2nd.

Morris has notched up an amazing season, as the Chester-based race ace has bagged 11 wins from an ultra-consistent season. Eleven wins are impressive in themselves, as is his ability to score, and score well, in every race of the season. Heading into this weekend’s races, he has a 131-point advantage, but he isn’t thinking about the title just yet.

“We’re getting closer and closer to sealing the championship and it could happen at Brands”, says The King’s School, Chester pupil, “But until it’s properly in the bag we’re not taking anything at all for granted. We’ll be working with the same approach we have all year: get the best set-up we can with the car, focus on qualifying as high up the order as we can and then put together two strong races.”

On overall scores, the 15-year-old’s closest challenger is Charlie Robertson some 131 points adrift but when the category’s double drop score ruling comes into play Seb’s attention turns to George Gamble who moves up into the runner-up position, within 105 points of the Hillspeed star.

Both Robertson and Gamble (TJ Motorsport) have been impressive as well in their rookie seasons in the Ginetta G40s. Gamble won a psychological battle by becoming the first person to defeat Morris when he took the chequered flag first at Thruxton and has added wins at Croft and Knockhill to his tally, while Robertson’s HHC Motorsport-run car scooped wins at Croft and Rockingham last time out. Robertson, at 14 the championship’s youngest driver, has also proved adept at taking lap records, four at the last count.

Between them, these three have locked out the wins but there are plenty of other drivers eager to prove their ability before the season closes. Of those to look for this weekend, Max Coates is hunting down William Foster for fourth in the championship, while Niall Murray (Beacon Racing) and Sennan Fielding (TJ Motorsport) have both shown impressive pace of late. So, too, has team-hopper Myles Collins, now at HHC Motorsport, Patrick McClughan (who had a season-nest of seventh at Rockingham) and Sennan Fielding, while Hillspeed’s William Palmer, son of MSV owner Jonathan, will be eager to go well on home soil.

For some of the closest action this weekend, look no further. Free practice for the Ginetta Junior Championship takes place on Saturday October 1st at 09:00 with qualifying at 12:00. Race one takes place on Saturday afternoon at 17:05 over nine laps, with a shorter eight-lap dash on Sunday at 12:10. You can catch Sunday’s action live on ITV4.

Gary Simms guided his Ginetta G20 to an outright win at Donington Park, yesterday, in the Ginetta Challenge while Mark Davies took two G40 class wins to move himself into the lead of the championship.

Race one

Mike Robinson (TCR) started from pole position and led the pack away on a wet-but-drying road, chased by championship leader Sean Huyton (Academy Motorsport) and Thiago Calvet (Optimum Motorsport). Calvet challenged for second at the Melbourne Hairpin on the opening lap but Huyton tried to retaliate as they flashed past the pits. Behind, Mark Davies (Optimum Motorsport) ran fourth ahead of Clive Richards (Colards) and newcomer Williams Burns (HHC Motorsport). After missing the post-qualifying parc ferme requirement, a number of drivers were forced to start from the back of the grid and it was Burns’ HHC team-mate Richard Sykes who made best progress son the opening lap, moving up from 25th to ninth on just one lap!

Calvet challenged for the lead at Redgate on lap two but Robinson defended, as Davies moved past Huyton for third and then wriggled past Brazilian Calvet. With Huyton needing to stay with championship rival Davies, he pushed too hard at Coppice and slipped into the gravel falling to seventh place, but battled back to fifth by the chequered flag.

Up front, Davies pushed on and caught race leader Robinson, the Yorkshireman moving ahead at Goddards on lap four and then edging away to win by 10 seconds with Robinson second from Calvet.

Dominic Pettit claimed a fifth win in the G20 class having made a break on the opening lap. Behind him, Stuart Pearson bagged second place while G20 pole-sitter Gary Simms took third.

Race two

A wet road again greeted the drivers for the second 20-minute race and Robinson was on pole position once more. He led away from the line but his slick tyres couldn’t cope with the water at Redgate Corner and he promptly spun at turn one casing the pack to dodge around him. That allowed Davies to lead as far as McLeans but an amazing first lap by Gary Simms brought him up from 10th on the grid to lead at McLeans within half a lap of the start. Davies fought back to retake the lead at the Esses, but Simms when back ahead a lap later. Once up front, there was no stopping the Cowbridge-based racer who started to build a lead. With the G20s running on a treaded tyre, the older cars were soon making progress and as Simms pulled clear, Pettit moved into the leading pack chased by Stuart Pearson.

Davies squabbled with Huyton for second place but Sean nipped by at the Esses on lap two with Pettit taking third from Davies. The three continued to fight with Pearson chasing hard in fifth. Simms’ advantage in the lead grew until Pettit moved up to second and then he started to push, reducing the margin to the leader. With Simms having to adapt to the changing conditions, he upped his pace again and kept ahead of the second place fight, which came to a head when Davies was tapped into a spin at the Melbourne Hairpin by Pettit allowing Huyton to move ahead. Davies responded to retake second but Huyton had a wide moment on the last lap at the Esses allowing Pettit through to third overall.

Simms first ever outright win secured a fifth G20 class victory of the season from Pearson and Tom Mallett after Pettit was excluded for his part in on-track incidents. The G40 class fell to Davies, giving him six wins and the championship lead over Huyton with two races to run.

“I’m delighted,” said Simms. “It was really hard in those conditions but the wet tyres helped. I’d have hated being on slicks like the G40s. My first overall win is brilliant and a one-two for Optimum Motorsport is great for the team.”

The next stop for the Ginetta Challenge is Silverstone on October 8/9.

Bart Hylkema - Donington GPBart Hylkema encountered a character building race debut at Donington Park Grand Circuit over the weekend, 24th/25th September, with a rain-affected event producing a best finish of 14th position for the Dutchman during round 25 of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series.

Arriving in the East Midlands on Thursday, 22nd September, with no prior experience of the track, the T-Sport driver gradually improved his pace throughout the race weekend – the penultimate event on the 2011 calendar.

Despite some unfortunate contact at the beginning of the second outing, round 26, which resulted in retirement to the pits, another finish in the third and final race meant Bart departed Donington in a positive frame of mind ahead of the championship finale in two weeks’ time.

Qualifying on Saturday, 24th September, didn’t go as smoothly as Bart wanted and especially towards the end of the session when a number of yellow flags prevented improvements. His best lap of 1m24.427 seconds (106.06mph) placed him on the ninth row.

For the first race of the weekend, round 25, the 21-year-old had a good start which enabled him to get away cleanly and he climbed into 17th on the opening lap.

Contact on lap two between team-mates Felipe Nasr and Kevin Magnussen resulted in pit-stops for both, promoting Bart into the top 15, and after gaining another place on lap four he ran comfortably in 14th position all the way to the flag on lap 21. Picking up his pace as the race progressed, Bart’s best time of 1m24.277 seconds was just 0.6 seconds shy of winner Rupert Svendsen-Cook’s quickest.

“I think I should’ve taken more risk during the early laps”, said Bart. “It was quite a good race for us but if I had pushed a bit harder a bit earlier we could definitely have been close to the top 10.”

For the opening race on Sunday, 25th September, Bart started on the seventh row of the grid by virtue of his finishing position from the day before but a tremendous start came to nothing shortly after when he sustained damaged suspension in a tangle on the run to the first corner.

Getting away from the line very impressively, Bart immediately gained a couple of positions but on the run to Redgate he was forced out onto the grass. As he recovered to the track, the left-front of his Volkswagen powered Dallara was collected which damaged the front wishbone. Although able to make it back to the pits, the suspension couldn’t be repaired.

Determined to post a good race finish in the final outing of the weekend, round 27, Bart was due to start in 17th position but as light rain worsened prior to the beginning of the action he – and several others – opted to pit at the end of the formation lap to fit wet-weather tyres.

As racing got underway, Bart had to wait patiently in the pits as his slick tyres were replaced for treaded rubber but although joining in a long way down the order he raced through to an eventual finish of 17th position.

Continuing to find time throughout the race, this was confirmed by the fact he posted his quickest lap of all on the final tour – a best of 1m39.683 seconds just 0.4 seconds shy of the fastest managed by race winner Kevin Magnussen.

“It’s not been the weekend we wanted but we definitely had the pace and made some progress and I think we could have had a very strong run in the first of Sunday’s races, if we hadn’t had the suspension damage”, said Bart.

“In the final race we wanted to go on wets for the start but in the end we didn’t. Making the pit-stop after the green flag lap cost us a lot of time and places but I had a good race, I enjoyed a good fight with (Will) Buller for a few laps towards the end and our pace wasn’t bad at all. Now I’m looking forward to Silverstone in two weeks, it’s a track I know and hopefully we can finish the season on a high.”

Bart’s debut season in British Formula 3 will reach its conclusion just a fortnight from now, over the weekend 8th/9th October, at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Kevin Magnussen won a dramatic Feature Race at Donington Park today, in round 27 of the Cooper Tires British F3 Series. The Danish racer fought a lengthy battle with team mate Jack Harvey, who led at the start and later ran in second place before retiring through a technical problem. Rupert Svendsen-Cook took third place to complete a strong weekend for the British driver. Carlos Huertas was the next driver across the line in fourth place. Felipe Nasr was ninth after an eventful race, just ahead of Jazeman Jaafar who 10th after a spin in what had been a strong race.

The drama in the final race of the weekend started before the drivers even left the grid, as heavy rain hit the circuit just before the start, prompting the front five runners (all Carlin drivers) to make a last minute switch to grooved rubber. Jaafar followed his team mates, pitting for wets as only 10 cars were happy with their tyre choice and took to the grid after the green flag lap.

Magnussen showed his intent early with a lightning start from the fifth place to catapult to second behind pole man Nasr. The competitive duo unfortunately made contact for a second time this weekend, following a clash at the Esses on lap one. Both drivers struggled to recover, which allowed rookie Harvey to steal through into the lead, with team mate Svendsen-Cook following him through to take up second place.

Following their accident, Magnussen was now third, while Nasr had dropped to 10th. Magnussen was keen to make up the positions though and was putting Svendsen-Cook under pressure, with the Brit withstanding the pressure well until a small mistake in the increasingly wet conditions allowed Magnussen through into second with Svendsen-Cook dropping to fourth behind Double R’s Pipo Derani.

Despite the deteriorating conditions, Magnussen was still on a charge and started to close in on Harvey. The F3 rookie put up a convincing defence for several laps to keep the Dane behind him, but after a prolonged attack Magnussen finally took the lead on lap nine.

Harvey was still on for a strong finish in second place, until a battery failure caused his race to come to a premature halt robbing him of a certain podium finish. That elevated Svendsen-Cook to third, and Huertas to fourth.

Nasr meanwhile was still busy recovering from his incident with Magnussen and was ninth after an action packed race which also feature a couple of spins, while Jaafar was just behind in ninth after a spin late on in what had been a solid outing for the young Malaysian.

Reflecting on his sixth victory of the season, Magnussen said, “It was a vey difficult race today and required a lot of concentration in the very bad conditions. As the weather got worse, it was really about not making any mistakes and bringing the car home. It is an important stage in the season now and these points are important for the fight for second place in the standings.”

Scott MalvernScott Malvern clinched the 2011 Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship in style at Donington Park on Sunday (25th Sept) with an impressive lights to flag victory, his 21st of the season, to add to the Euro Cup title he had already claimed in August. It’s been a record breaking season for the young Barkingside driver and he will he have further opportunities to add to his victory total if he elects to compete in the final three rounds of the British Championship in two weeks time on the Grand Prix circuit at Silverstone and in the Formula Ford World Festival at Brands Hatch the following weekend.

Malvern paid a massive tribute to his Jamun Racing Team and all his supporters after another highly impressive weekend. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the great car that Jamun Racing have provided me with every race weekend and the fantastic help that we receive from all our partners and supporters. I hope everyone is giving themselves a massive pat on the back for what they’ve helped us to do this year” Malvern hopes that the title will help him to progress his career as a professional racing driver. “When you look at who has won this championship in the past; names like Ayrton Senna & Jenson Button you realise that you are part of that history now and look at what they went onto achieve. I just hope that this will put us on a lot of people’s radar. They know what I am capable of and I that am ready to move on”

Malvern is as yet unsure as where he will be able to move onto for 2012. “Obviously there is still a lot of hard work to be done but given the opportunity I’d like to step up to Formula 3, GP3 or Formula 2. I am confident that I have the tools and the mindset to do a great job!”

more detailed reports of Scott’s weekend races (24-25th Sept) at Donington Park can be found here:

http://www.britishformulaford.co.uk/news/2011/250911.htm

http://www.britishformulaford.co.uk/news/2011/240911.htm

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.