DRIVER NEWS: Al Fardan Wraps up Season with Twelfth Podium
DRIVER NEWS: Gulf Finance House (GFH) driver Hamad Al Fardan will leave Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire this weekend having secured his twelfth podium of the 2007 season and cementing his third place in the Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series National Class Championship.
The young Bahraini has had his fair share of challenges to overcome this year and with twenty-eight of the best young drivers across the globe competing in the finale Rockingham was set to provide the ultimate challenge. Al Fardan was 17 points clear of fourth place man Michael Meadows at the start of the weekend and with the Brit electing not to contest the final round of the season Al Fardan had already done enough to secure third in the championship before even stepping in his Dallara Mugen Honda.
Qualifying 1: 2nd position 1:18.056
Qualifying 2: 5th position 1:17.776 (4 laps)
Damp tricky conditions and two red flags involving Mihai Marinescu early on in session one on Saturday morning meant Al Fardan was up against it in qualifying at the Northamptonshire track. After early rain the track started to dry and a switch to slicks enabled Al Fardan put in the second fastest time of the session lining up in race one just behind Mexican Sergio Perez.
A red flag at the beginning of qualifying two delayed the field and once the session got underway the difficult conditions got the better of Al Fardan and on his fourth lap the young Bahraini spun his Dallara unable to take part in the remainder of the session; he was to start race two from the back of the grid.
Race One: 3rd position 29:25.740 (1 lap)
Race Two: DNF 15:32.613 (12 laps)
After two difficult qualifying sessions race day at Rockingham proved be one of the most challenging of Al Fardan's season. Conditions on track had improved considerably overnight and Al Fardan made a dream start in race one passing his Mexican rival Sergio Perez for the lead. The young Bahraini was driving brilliantly and withholding pressure from the National Class Champion but unfortunately for Al Fardan Perez was determined to win even if it meant using force and on lap four of the race Al Fardan was hit by Perez from behind and sent into a spin. Al Fardan rejoined the race and eventually finished in third position, his dream of a first win shattered.
Despite starting from the back of the grid Al Fardan was determined to put the disappointment of race one behind him and he made an outstanding start to race two moving up into third position. Unfortunately it seemed the weekend was destined to bring disappointment for the young Bahraini and on lap 12 he drove his Dallara Mugen Honda into the pits and out of the race; the culprit being a loss of engine power.
Commenting on the weekend and his first season in British F3 Al Fardan said "I was disappointed with race one because I think I could've had my first win of the season but I am still happy to have got my twelfth podium and secure third place in the championship. It's been great to race with all these experienced drivers and I think despite a difficult start to the season I have shown that I have the ability to run with the front runners. I am looking forward to coming back next year and competing for Championship Class wins."
Peter Panayiotou, Acting CEO for GFH added "It has been an honour watching and supporting Hamad this season. He has been such an inspiration to GFH and the Kingdom of Bahrain and we would like to congratulate him on his third place in the championship in just his first year of racing in the UK."
Final National Class Championship positions after 22 rounds:
1. Sergio Perez 376
2. Frankie Cheng 220
3. Hamad Al Fardan 182
4. Michael Meadows 153
5. Salman Al Khalifa 149
This season was very much a learning year for Al Fardan as he got to grips with the top UK circuits and his Dallara Formula 3 car, but impressive race performances mean the GFH backed driver has finished the season third in class, a truly remarkable feat for his first year racing in the UK.
Watch this space for news on Hamad's 2008 season and his planned assault on the Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series Championship Class.