Another heavy rain shower ahead of the second 25-minute race of the FIA Historic Formula 3 European Cup at Zandvoort gave the drivers a tyre choice dilemma on whether to use slicks or wets. With broken clouds on the horizon approaching fast it was a difficult choice and one that would ultimately decide the destination of the 2019 titles.
After several withdrawn cars following yesterday’s race, a fantastic array of nineteen cars lined up on the grid for the race.
Race one winner Christian Olsen started from pole position on slicks on his Martini MK39, while fellow Dane Michael Ringstrom started on wets from second on the grid in his Martini MK42. At the start Ringstrom used the extra grip to put the leader under pressure, with the no11 Martini moving into the lead on the run into Hans Ernst Bocht as Olsen’s car slid around under braking.
Class 1 winner Valerio Leone, who also started on wets, moved up to fourth place as Frederic Rouvier’s Martini also struggled for grip on slick tyres. Leone was ahead of Rob Moores’ Chevron B38, the March of Gianluigi Candiani and Keith White’s Ralt RT1, who were all battling for the final class podium positions.
As the track dried out Ringstrom was searching out the wet patches on the Zandvoort track surface to cool his overheating wets. Olsen’s slicks had started to work and was soon back on terms with the Martini. On lap six the two cars were side by side, with Ringstrom trying every trick in the book to defend his position. Olsen got his opportunity, diving down the inside at Hans Ernst Bocht, and then the no1 Martini pulled away.
The March 783 of Valerio Leone was up to third overall and well ahead in the Class 1 battle, but the Italian was starting to struggle for grip on his deteriorating wets as the Class 2 Ralt RT3 of Thomas Weidel and the Martini MK34 of Frederic Rouvier started to move up the order.
Leone decided to let the battle class 2 competitors go ahead as he made sure he stayed ahead of his rivals further back.
Rouvier and Weidel swapped places a couple of times, with Rouvier taking the third place ahead of the German. The French driver then set off to try and snatch second from Michael Ringstrom and on the last lap he sailed past the Dane to take second.
At the chequered flag Christian Olsen took the victory, thirty two seconds ahead of Frederic Rouvier, with Michael Ringstrom a further four seconds behind. However Michael Ringstrom was given a 10 second penalty for a technical infringement discovered in post race scrutineering. This promoted Thomas Weidel into third place, with Ringtrom classified fourth.
Valerio Leone finished 5thoverall to secure his second Class 1 victory of the weekend, 32 seconds ahead of Keith White’s Ralt RT1 in seventh overall, with the March 783 of Gianluigi Candiani taking the final class podium slot after Rob Moores’ Chevron retired on the penultimate lap.
After the podium Christian Olsen said: “It was the right choice of tyres once again. It was difficult coming into it because with the weather and there wasn’t as much wind as yesterday. But I could see that the blue sky was coming from behind the clouds and I have done enough running on slicks in the wet, especially last weekend in the ELMS at Silverstone, that it is about managing the temperature and just waiting to find the dry line. I love it!
“To take four wins from four races at this event is great and I love these cars. I will keep doing historic racing as long as I can.”
Valerio Leone said after the race: “Unfortunately I was on rain tyres at the start, which were very good at the beginning but towards mid race the car started to go everywhere, so I was looking for the wet surface. I was third overall but I started to think about my group, so I slowed down very much for the class win. I knew I had a gap so I could slow down, find the wet surface and try to get to the end of the race.
“Fortunately, everything went very well this year for me, but not my son. But I am really happy about these two wins at Zandvoort.”
Pictures: Jeff Carter/FIA