DRIVER NEWS: Al Fardan Move To Third in the National Class at Croft
DRIVER NEWS: Gulf Finance House driver Hamad Al Fardan headed to the penultimate round of the Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series at Croft Circuit hoping to take third place in the National Class championship and he did just that with his eleventh podium of the season.
The 20 year old Bahraini's first visit to the North Yorkshire track certainly didn't begin smoothly. As temperatures rose for Saturday's qualifying sessions, the Performance Racing team struggled to gets to grips with set-up and additional brake problems left Al Fardan with a mammoth task ahead of him in both races. Al Fardan's team-mate Frankie Cheng of China was back on form to take pole position in race one whilst in qualifying two it was Cheng's championship rival Sergio Perez who took the spoils. Al Fardan's adversary Meadows was third in both sessions.
Qualifying 1: 5th position, 1:15.623s
Qualifying 2: 6th position, 1:16.179s
Al Fardan made a promising start in an incident packed race one to maintain his fifth position but was soon promoted into fourth thanks to the all too frequent bad luck of British driver Michael Meadows. Just as it looked like the race was going to settle lap 15 saw Francesco Castellacci hit Pablo Garcia Samano whilst trying to move ahead leaving both cars stranded in the middle of the track. Garcia managed to get going but the Safety Car was deployed to recover the ADR Dallara. Racing resumed at the end of the lap which gave Al Fardan his best chance to catch 3rd place man Al Khalifa and make his bid for the final podium slot. Sadly the tricky Croft circuit failed to offer the GFH driver any passing opportunities and he had to settle for fourth place.
In the end second place was good enough for Sergio Perez to become the 2007 British F3 National class champion and in the Championship class Marko Asmer (#7 Hitech) was crowned the 2007 Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series Champion despite not finishing the race after a blown engine forced him out of the lead.
In race two Al Fardan made another clean start and managed stay out of the ensuing trouble for most of the 24 laps. Sergio Perez was leading from Salman Al Khalifa, who had made a good start from 25th overall to end the lap in 19th overall and second in class. However things didn't go as well for Meadows, a crash at the start of the race put an end to his championship fight for the weekend moving Al Fardan up a position. Mid race Frankie Cheng was rapidly closing in on Al Khalifa and on lap 9 moved ahead of the Bahraini driver who then fell into the clutches of Al Fardan. Over the next couple of laps the GFH driver put Al Khalifa under pressure and on lap 11 he spun off at the exit to the Complex promoting Al Fardan into third and his eleventh podium of the season.
Sergio Perez took the National Class win, two places ahead of Frankie Cheng, the Chinese driver in his last British F3 race of the 2007 season.
Race 1: 4th position, 31:20.912 (24 laps)
Race 2: 3rd position, 31:13.738 (24 laps)
Hamad Al Fardan - Performance Racing driver "This weekend was all about third place in the championship. I knew I was only 5 points behind Meadows but I had a bad start to the weekend so anything could've happened. It was a hard weekend, we had a bad practice and struggled to find the right setup but I was able to make the most of the bad luck Meadows had. In race one I managed to stay out of all of the trouble and put pressure on the guys ahead, unfortunately Frankie [Cheng] was just to fast. I also had a really good battle with Salman today, I tried to overtake him a few times but he managed to block me but then he spun off and I had a clear run to the end of the race. I'm now 17 points ahead of Meadows which is great for my championship."
Peter Panayiotou - Acting CEO, GFH "Hamad continues to inspire and motivate the GFH racing team and his move into third in the F3 National Class championship confirms what a great racer he is. We are proud to be associated with such a great talent."
Although Mexico's Sergio Perez has already wrapped up the National Class championship Al Fardan still has a fight on his hands to maintain his newly obtained third place. Despite leaving Croft 17 points ahead of his rival Michael Meadows there are still two remaining races at Rockingham later this month with 42 points available.