Olsen Starts FIA Historic F3 Title Defence in Style

Reigning Historic Formula 3 European Cup Champion Christian Olsen won the first of the two 25-minute races at Zandvoort with a dominant display to finish over 14 seconds ahead of the rest of the field from pole position. The Class 1 victory was secured by Valerio Leone, the Italian fighting his way back up the field after starting the race in the pitlane. His son Davide looked on course to win the class but the engine in the back of his March 783 let go two laps from the chequered flag while lying in third overall.

After earlier heavy rain the track was dry with damp patches in places, so some teams elected for wets and some for slicks. The race restarted behind the safety car after there was some confusion amongst the drivers when the start procedures weren’t followed. Officials allowed drivers on wets to switch them for slicks and start from the pitlane.

When the Safety Car came in Christian Olsen pulled ahead from pole position in his Martini MK39-Toyota with fellow Dane Michael Ringstrom in a Martini MK42-Alfa Romeo in his wheel tracks.The Class 1 March 783-Toyota of Davide Leone was third ahead of the Martini MK34-Toyota of Manfredo Rossi Di Montelera.Olsen leads at Zandvoort

The Martini MK34-Toyota of Frederic Rouvier had started at the back of the grid after a technical issue found in post qualifying checks and the French driver was on a charge up the field. By lap four Rouvier was up to eighth and was closing in on David Thorburn’s Ralt RT3-Toyota and then set off to close the gap to the March 793 of Marcel Biehl.

Meanwhile back at the front of the field Ringstrom was keeping Olsen in his sights, but on lap six he suddenly dropped ten seconds when he missed a gear change. The Dane was well ahead of the March in third and was able to maintain his second place. But Olsen was pulling away by nearly one second a lap.

Davide Leone in his March looked on course for the Class 1 win and an overall podium finish when his Toyota engine let go in a cloud of smoke. This promoted the Ralt RT3 of Thomas Weidel into third overall. The Class 1 lead reverted to Valerio Leone, the Italian having already passed both the March 783 of Gianluigi Candini and the Chevron B38 of Rob Moores for seventh overall.

The chequered flag came out to end the first of the two races, with Christian Olsen slowing to take the applause from the team on the pitwall. Olsen was classified 14.1 seconds ahead of the no11 Martini MK42 of Michael Ringstrom and 26.3 seconds ahead of third placed Thomas Weidel in his Ralt.

“I got a good start and I don’t even know what happened to the guy behind me, it was straight sailing really,” said Christian Olsen. “The car was OK but it was really difficult to get the tyre pressures right.  It was a huge gamble at the start of the race because nobody knew what to do with regards to wets or drys, but I think slicks was the right way to go.  

“I was struggling a bit with understeer; the front end of the car wouldn’t really bite, but I am guessing it also because we couldn’t get the tyre temperatures going.  We just need to do a repeat in tomorrow’s race.” 

Valerio Leone took the chequered flag in seventh overall to claim the Class 1 win 28.9 seconds ahead of Rob Moores and Gianluigi Candini in third, just 0.8 seconds behind Moores at the chequered flag.

Valerio Leone said: “I chose the wrong tyres at the start of the race because I thought it was wet. However, on the warm up lap I saw it was completely dry. Fortunately, there was the red flag so I had the time to change the tyres but I had to start in the pitlane in last position.   

“Davide chose the good tyres, he chose slicks. Unfortunately, he broke the engine two laps from the end.   Last year’s race was really bad, I had extremely bad luck, so this win is good. There is still one race tomorrow, which I hope is as good as today.” 

Pictures: Jeff Carter/FIA

Valeria Leone, March 783

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