TEAM NEWS: T Sport's Gonzalez Lights it up at Brands Hatch (AUDIO)
Rodolfo Gonzalez gives his reaction to his superb drive in Round 11.
TEAM NEWS: Rodolfo Gonzalez drove the race of his life at Brands Hatch yesterday, entertaining the spectators with a thrilling Senna-esque drive through the field from 12th to fourth place in the first of the weekend’s two British F3 International Series races. Sergio Perez left Brands Hatch with two second place finishes, consolidating his lead in the National Class standings whilst “new boy” Salman Al Khalifa settled into his new team, collecting two fifth places.
After taking sixth place in the first qualifying session, Rodolfo was actually disappointed with sixth in the second session as he had the potential to be higher up, demonstrated by his impressive showing, especially through the high-speed sections of Brands Hatch’s Grand Prix Circuit. He struggled off the line in race one with a clutch problem and dropped all the way back to 12th place. His comeback drive proved to be the story of the race though as he steadily picked off the cars in front, scything his way back through the field. He took Carlin’s Niall Breen for fifth place around the outside at Hawthorns, and then Maro Engel had to give up his fourth place to Rodolfo when he took him at Paddock Hill Bend. The only reason Rodolfo didn’t finish on the podium is that the race was over before he could attack the top three!
Race two for the Venezuelan was frustrating as he was deemed to have jumped the start. Although it was unclear and he didn’t gain any advantage he was penalised with a drive-through penalty which knocked him right to the back with nowhere to go. He gained a few places but once he had a clear track ahead of him his tyres had gone off so he brought the car home in 18th. Rodolfo now stands in 10th place in the Championship.
Sergio Perez, who took pole position at the last two races in Monza, qualified in second place for both races. This was his first race meeting at Brands Hatch but as well as having to learn the track it was found after qualifying that his engine was down on power. Once the engine was changed the Mexican’s race pace was as rapid as usual. He got a clean start in race one and soon closed in on Frankie Cheng, the highest-placed National Class runner. He pushed him all the way but was unable to get past him and took second place at the flag. Sergio finished race two also in second place and is now level on points with Cheng but keeps the Championship lead as he has more victories than the Chinese driver.
Salman Al Khalifa worked hard in his first event with T-Sport. Also a newcomer to Brands Hatch, the 2005 Formula BMW Asia Champion spent the weekend learning the limits of his car. He made a blinding start in race one, moving up to fifth place and held it there until the end. Race two was an eventful one for the Bahraini driver and he took another fifth-placed finish, wrapping up his first weekend with the team.
“I’m delighted with Rodolfo’s performance this weekend,” commented Team Principal, Russell Eacott. “He showed a dramatic improvement and thoroughly impressed us with his comeback drive in race one. We felt his penalty was a little harsh in race two as it pretty much ended the race for him. Without Sergio’s engine trouble he would have been on for more wins. Salman is on a steep learning curve; he knows what he needs to do and he is working hard to get there.”