Frustrating Thruxton for Räikkönen Robertson Racing
TEAM NEWS: Räikkönen Robertson Racing visited Thruxton this weekend, June 28th and 29th, for rounds eleven and twelve of the 2008 British Formula Three International Series, the races promising much but proving frustrating for the team with twice cars being knocked into spins while in good positions. Atte Mustonen's best result was sixth in race one, the Finn knocked out of the second race, while John Martin led home Henry Arundel in race two to take seventh and eighth for the team.
"Thruxton proved to be disappointing and frustrating for the team," said Team Principal Anthony Hieatt. "We have gone well here before but this time things did not go our way."
The first of the day's two 24-lap races looked to be promising a good result for the team early in the race, John running strongly in the early laps and Atte climbing up the order.
From fifth on the grid John had a storming first lap, sweeping into third before the end of the lap with a move round the outside into Thruxton's chicane. With the lead places shuffling by the lap, John was battling for fourth, and twice looked outside the car ahead as they braked for the chicane, on the second time staying alongside only for the pair to touch, spinning John wide and down the order. Though the incident cost John places, his rival was later penalised and fined for his actions after the race.
"The car felt good at the start," said John, "and I went past one car off the line, and past another at the chicane. After a few laps it seemed everyone else's car went off a little bit but mine felt good and I was able to close back up.
"I tried to get past one car two laps in a row at the chicane but he blocked off the inside, then I got a perfect two, pulled out, was a fair way past him on the brakes, left him room - and he drove in the back of me. Then I had to turn the car off to let it cool for a moment before I could restart. I'm not sure I had the car to win, but second or third was a possibility."
Atte had started 12th on the grid, but gained two places on the opening lap and a strong drive saw him gaining places as the race progressed. By lap 19 he was into sixth place, but the gap to the cars ahead was too much and despite some quick laps Atte had to settle for sixth and scoring valuable championship points.
"I started twelfth and got a reasonable start," said Atte, "and the car felt ok in the race. It was good in the high-speed sections and my straight-line speed was good, maybe we can be better in the slower corners for the next race. It was important to take points and everyone is now very tight in the points table."
A consistent run from Henry in his first Formula Three race at Thruxton saw him claim his third top-ten finish of the season: "It was good to score a point, yesterday was disappointing as I had wanted to be further up the grid. I got a good start, then got boxed in as it was so busy and lost a position, but there was nothing I could do about it.
"From then on I was just coming back up as much as I could, there is so much load on the corners here you just have to look after your tyres. You have to drive within the tyres lap after lap."
John slotted into seventh in the early laps, with Atte, who had lost ground on the first lap moving back up to run a place behind, and Henry also gaining places to make it three cars in a row for the team. John moved up to sixth, and as Atte looked to also gain a place at the chicane, he was alongside the other car when contact spun him round and beached his car on the kerbs, bringing out the Safety Car and ending his race.
"I didn't get a good start and lost places," said Atte, "then braking into the last corner he just tucked in and hit me. That meant I scored no points which was not good."
John continued and finally came home seventh, with Henry a place behind in eighth, his best finish of the season to date.
"I would have liked to have been closer to the front," said John "but it all got a bit mixed up at the start. I found it hard to get past people in the tow, but overall this weekend has been an improvement, I had a dismal weekend here last year so I am happy to have qualified reasonably and have had a good run."
"Ultimately I want to be finishing higher," said Henry, "but I am happy today and this result is a step in the right direction and I have to keep working. This is a tough championship and I can take a lot away from this weekend, this result is good for my confidence."
Next British Formula Three international Series races: Brand Hatch, Kent, July 13th