Race Reports For The 2001 Season.
Silverstone National, Saturday June 9th, 12 Laps
Eagling storms to victory
The F3000 championship provides the main support entertainment at European Grands Prix meetings but the Grand Prix clashing with Silverstone was in Canada so Dan Eagling, who is employed by the Petrobras Jr team to engineer Antonio Pizzonia's car, had a free weekend. He used the Saturday politely and modestly to win the Silverstone round of the 'K' Sports 1600 championship from pole position, setting the fastest race lap in the process. It is to be hoped that his Sunday was equally productive.
Anyone who had been watching the weather forecasts as the weekend approached would be aware that rain was forecast; not unfortunately the predictable 'put the wets on at breakfast time and it will still be the right choice at bedtime' variety, rather the forecast was for scattered heavy showers. The forecasters were right and there were two showers during the day timed to produce the maximum confusion as to tyre choice. Ultimately all runners bar one (more about that later) chose wets for both qualifying and the race although for the latter, and maybe the former, the track was dry enough for slicks towards the end - it would have been interesting to see how many would have reached the end had they ventured out on slicks though.
Twenty-two cars assembled for qualification and despite the treacherous conditions twenty-two qualified, a testimony to the driving standards in this formula. Eagling was quickest, followed by Clive Woodward, Peter Clark, Jim Lindley and Mike Luck in the improving Dart S16. The top ten was completed by Peter Richings, Howard Payne, Alan Avery with the Avalan running harder springs than before, Tim Covill and Brian Jordan. Throughout the field everyone had a tale to tell, usually of near-terminal understeer at Luffield. Mention should be made of newcomers Michael Taylor in the Phantom with which Tom Bellamy won the 2000 championship, who qualified 16th, and Peter Hall (22nd) who was out in Adrian Brown's smart Mallock Mk17.
Waiting in the assembly area before the race it was evident that the track was going to dry faster than it had in the morning. Everyone appeared to be on treaded tyres although Glenn Eagling was hovering around Dan's car with a trollyload of slicks ready for a last minute change although they were not used in the event. At the last minute Tim Covill arrived to fill his 9th place grid slot with the EBX on slicks; sitting alongside him and likely to be outside of him into the first corner, Jordan found this a particularly interesting decision. Twenty-one right and one wrong or vice versa?
From the start the field negotiated Copse without drama but through the lefthand kink at Maggots and in the braking area for Becketts, Payne overcooked things, span and was collected by Luck in the Dart. Avery gyrated in sympathy and the remainder funnelled through the gaps. Having passed the worst Marcus Bicknell also span. Much of this mayhem was captured on video by Marcus from Ian Megson's Mallock Mk18BW including, it has to be said, evidence of him tailending Mitchell's IM Mk3. The only other victim of the melee was Paul Freeman whose Ardmore gained a broken rear mudguard stay through contact with another car. All were able to continue although the Dart had to pit to have its damaged nose and front aerofoil removed. Further around the first lap Brendan Herd, Ian Mitchell and Peter Burnham all enjoyed spins in the Brooklands/Luffield complex, again captured on video by the recovering Bicknell. The race pattern was set after this with Eagling pulling out a 16 second lead over Clark who had Woodward just 3 tenths of a second behind him across the line. Lindley was next up, all alone, with Richings being caught by Covill further back. Tim had hung on valiantly in the early stages of the race with his slicks not ideal for the conditions but as the line dried he was able to make up some ground and set the fifth quickest lap in the process. Arthur Dickens, Tony Pouyanne and Jordan were the final unlapped runners with Payne up to tenth place after his first lap faux pas.
Behind these came Taylor (no points as he is not yet registered for the championship), Avery, Freeman, Simon Kelly after a race long duel with Bicknell, Chris Burnham, delighted at having beaten his father, Hall and Burnham senior whose car had an unexplained aversion to going around corners. Herd, Mitchell and Luck were the last finishers and the only non-finisher was Jamie Champkin whose throttle pedal and engine became strangers while running in tenth place on the last lap.
Then the sun came out and Silverstone dried up.