11th October 2008
Dallara F398 Formula 3
This was my first race in a
Dallara F398 for
Robertson Motorsport. The car was an ex-Carlin (UK), ex BRM car
still running the Carlin livery. It was to be a long day for the
team, who had to run 4 cars in 5 sessions as well as race
themselves! Thanks to Rangi Kerr and Paul Hughes for getting up at
4.30am and coming along to assist.
was primarily to learn the circuit and shake the cars down. The car was very
nervous and twitchy at the rear, particularly going down the hill through the
chicane to Shell Corner and through the O'Brien Aluminum Dogleg. Other drivers
complained of oversteer there too, so I didn't think too much of it at first.
With only 9 laps to learn the car and circuit, my best time was a 0:49.5455, 2
secs off the fastest F3 car.
Qualifying 1 was still a matter of learning the
circuit and exploring the limits of the car. It still had a lot of
snap oversteer and I had to be very careful as I was taking some
corners on full opposite lock, with the obvious impact on laptime. I
was reasonably happy to have qualified 9th overall with a time of
0:46.1489, which 3rd in class with an improvement of 3 secs and
fastest in the team by 2 secs. Sam Dale took pole in his beautiful
Reynard 94D F3000 car. The car was already running a lot of rear
wing and full soft rear roll bars, so we couldn't do much about the
handling. You can see already that the car is sagging in the middle
with the nose in the air in this early photo.
race started well, I overtook the car in front off the line and set
about chasing the next guy down. The handling however seemed to
deteriorate over the next few laps and on lap 7 of 8, suddenly the
rear of the car overtook me as I was about to brake for the chicane.
The car span off and strangely, bogged down on the grass, so I
retired. When the tow truck arrived after the race, I could hear a
strange dragging noise from under the car, so when we arrived at the
pit garage, we discovered that the lower engine mount bolts had come
loose, sagging the car in the middle and allowing the belly to hit
the track, which had caused the handling problems that eventually
threw me off the road. The race was won by Sam Dale from pole.
Race 2 (15 laps)
I did not start this race as the team was unable
to repair the car in time for the race start. Race won again by Sam
Dale, with Glenn Lynch the quickest F3 car.
Race 3 (24 laps)
The car was repaired for race 3 and handled much
better than at any other time during the day. I got a reasonable
start and passed the car in front again, but after 2 laps the safety
car came out for a long period to extract an F3 car from the tyre
wall. After several laps of this we were marshalled into the pits to
wait. During this time my car's coolant hose came off the radiator
and dumped the coolant over the pit lane. This was almost certainly
caused by the earlier problems of the engine mounts coming loose, as
the hose in question was located by the bulkhead section that came
loose. There was insufficient time to re-attach the hose and refill
the coolant before the race re-start, so I had to retire again to
end a disappointing day.