It could have been bad news for the Australian interest between the previous round at Thruxton, and the latest round at Castle Combe, but it was all smiles. As has been mentioned many times previously, Barton Mawer is very low on funding. The fear was that after Thruxton he would not have any more funding to compete in the 2005 British Formula 3 Championship. This would have been tragic for Mawer, considering he had just pulled out to a large National Class lead of 42-points over his nearest rival.
Fortunately, for the Castle Combe event, the 23-year-old found the money needed to race, and to continue to fight for the National Class title. Unfortunately, there was only enough money for the latest round. As a result, Barton still needs to find funding for the next event at Monza, and the four races following it. So if you can help Barton, please contact him at +44 7900947296, or (02) 46571340.
The good news was not restricted to Mawer finding funding for Castle Combe. After Thruxton, it was announced that the 2004 Australian Formula 3 Champion, Karl Reindler, would be joining the crack Alan Docking Racing squad from Monza onwards. Will Power and Will Davison have previously driven for Docking, as well as current Williams Formula One driver Mark Webber. Reindler hopes to use the last five events of the year as a stepping-stone for a full 2006-title assault. If worst comes to worst, and Mawer cannot continue this year, at least Australia will continue to have a great talent to cheer on in Britain. However, hopefully we will have two to support. Reindler had tested the car for the first time the previous week at Snetterton, coming to grips with the Dallara F305.
Australian news out of the way, this weekend, of course, was held at Castle Combe. The circuit is notable in the way that it is very similar to the previous venue at Thruxton. If not for a couple chicanes, the circuit would be pretty much a flat-out three-kilometre run. In attendance was a very large field of 27 cars and drivers - more than any race weekend in 2005 or even 2004. The field comprised of 11 National Class cars, and 16 Championship Class cars. Barton Mawer entered the weekend with a 42-point lead over Salvador Duran in the National Class, and Marko Asmer had a slender 5-point lead over Mike Conway in the outright Championship Class.
In the free practice session, Mawer completed 28 laps of the circuit, with a best time of 1:00.859 minutes, which was good enough for the eighteenth fastest time overall, and fifth fastest time out of the National Class runners, which comprise of cars which are a development cycle older than the Championship Class cars. Jonathan Kennard was the quickest of the National Class runners, lapping in 1:00.459 minutes.
The session was overall led by Dan Clarke, who lapped in 59.226 seconds, followed by Steven Kane and Alvaro Parente.
The first qualifying session for the round 11 race was marred by two accidents, both of which caused the session to be stopped. The first accident involved Nick Jones crashing heavily at the final corner. He managed to walk away from the incident. The second stoppage was much more serious. Christian Bakkerud ran off at the corner preceding the second chicane, and moments later Steven Kane followed. Kane rode over the top of Bakkerud, launching his car, and was centimetres away from going over the barriers and into a bank. The accident occurred only a couple metres away from a marshalling post. Thankfully both drivers were fine, and no marshals or spectators were hurt.
The session finally concluded, and Mawer finished with a best lap of 1:00.395 minutes. He was the fifth fastest among the National Class runners, and twentieth fastest overall. Salvador Duran, followed by Charlie Hollings and Jonathan Kennard, led the Class. The man getting pole position with the fastest time in the session was Charlie Kimball, lapping in 59.100 seconds, followed by Dan Clarke and Alvaro Parente.
The second session also was red flagged, however, not restarted, with three minutes remaining. Amazingly, Christian Bakkerud crashed heavily again at the same spot as he did in the first qualifying session. Luckily, he was again left unscathed.
Barton Mawer was able to improve on his qualifying time, lapping in 1:00.107 minutes, and would start the race from fifteenth on the grid, and second from the National Class runners. Charlie Hollings was the fastest National Class runner, and Jonathan Kennard was third. Alvaro Parente took pole position with a time of 58.994 seconds. Second on the grid was Mike Conway, and third belonged to Charlie Kimball
Starting from twentieth on the grid, and fifth in his Class, it was always going to be difficult for Mawer to shine during Sunday’s first race. His problems were compounded when he had a terrible start, and fell back to twenty-fourth. On lap five, Mawer passed a new driver to the series, Cheong Lou Meng, from Macau. Mawer moved forward on lap seven, passing Ricardo Teixeira, and progressed again on lap nine, passing Keiko Ihara, and moving into twenty-first place. Also on the ninth lap, Mawer set what was to be the fastest lap of the race for his Class, giving himself the bonus point. On the tenth lap, Adam Khan retired from twentieth, handing Mawer the position. On lap 14, a recovering James Walker passed Mawer after falling from sixth place on the grid to the back of the field on the first lap. Mawer then proceeded to follow Walker very closely, with a gap of between three-tenths and half a second for the remaining laps, without being able to pass. Mawer was to gain another position on the final lap when Juho Annala ran off, promoting Mawer back into twentieth position. Mawer finished exactly where he started, twentieth overall, and fifth in the National Class. The Class victory went to Mawer’s main rival, Salvador Duran, with Josh Fisher in second, and Jonathan Kennard third.
Starting from second, Dan Clarke got a good start, and passed Charlie Kimball. Clarke went on to lead every lap of the race, and capture his first British Formula 3 race. Alvaro Parente captured second position in the race, and Kimball took third.
As opposed to his start in the first race, Mawer got a good start and gained two positions on the opening lap, leaving him in thirteenth place and retaining the National Class race-lead. On the fourth lap Christian Bakkerud passed Mawer; who probably thought it was wise to give the American some racing room after his qualifying antics. On the fifth lap Tim Bridgman ran off – before retiring on the next lap, giving Mawer back thirteenth place. On the eighth lap Mawer moved ahead of a struggling Stephen Jelley who had been passed by Bakkerud on the previous lap. On lap eleven, while running sixth, Ryan Lewis hit trouble and moved Mawer into eleventh place. On the fifteenth lap Jelley retook Mawer, dropping him to twelfth. And it was in twelfth position overall that Mawer stayed. Mawer crossed the line to capture his fourth National Class victory of the season out of ten starts. Charlie Hollings came home in second place, and Jonathan Kennard took another fine third.
Starting from pole position, Alvaro Parente was unperturbed, and took a lights-to-flag victory. The quickly impressive Charlie Kimball was second, and in a one-off appearance for Alan Docking Racing before Karl Reindler takes over the seat at Monza, Danny Watts came a well-deserved third.
Barton Mawer entered the event with a solid 42-point National Class title lead over Salvador Duran, and left losing only a single point to the Mexican. For those who are unaware of the British Formula 3 points system, you receive 20 points for a victory, and a point for the fastest lap. This means that if Mawer is unable to compete in the next event at Monza due to lack of funds, Duran may be able to pass him for the National Class title lead. So once again