Bitter sweet week for Minardi Team Asia – Jun 21 05
Date posted on June 21, 2005 · Published by Mark Goddard
Minardi Team Asia’s Formula Three Team came away from rounds 5 and 6 of the Asian Formula Three Series held at the Zhuhai International Circuit on June 18/19th with little in the way of points after both driver’s were innocent victims of another competitors mistake.
Southern China has seen record amounts of rain over the past two weeks and Zhuhai did not escape the inclement weather. Practice was held in wet conditions and Ambi Pur Team Goddard-Minardi Team Asia headed the time sheets for almost all the sessions. Greg Murphy in the Promotions Class Car was consistently setting top three times in the Class.
Qualifying started wet and for the first half of the 30 minute session Dado comfortably headed the times. The rain eased and there was a window of three laps when most of the drivers set their fastest times before the rain came back with a vengeance. Unfortunately for Dado he was in the pit lane at the time to have grass removed from the radiator ducts after going off at Turn Ten. Greg did a good job to qualify second in class.
Race one was held on Saturday and the conditions were dry. Ananda Mikola had qualified on the row behind Dado and he burst through to second place by the first turn. Unfortunately Dado’s start was just okay and he finished the first lap in fourth place holding off Avila and O’Hara. Avila tried to go around the outside of Dado in turn one and the two drivers then drove side by side all the way through to the braking area for turn four. It looked under control excepting that John O’Hara reckoned he could out brake them both, ran out of road, clattered over the apex kerb and speared into the luckless Pena. O’Hara and Pena were out on the spot whilst Avila recovered to take fourth at the flag. Mikola won the race from James Winslow and Tyson Sy.
Moreno Soeprapto took the Promotion Class honours from Minardi’s Greg Murphy and new boy Robert Block. Lee Farrell spun and retired on lap 6. Murphy still led the championship, albeit with a points lead of only two.
Race two, round 6 of the series, was held on Sunday, again in dry conditions. A crowd estimated at over 10,000 turned up to watch and the race turned out to be a real cracker. Dado and O’Hara both started from the back of the grid, but all eyes were at the front where Mikola, Winslow and Sy swapped the lead several times. It all came to a head on lap 9 when a back marker slowed Mikola at turn 9, allowing Sy to take a run a turn 10 and take the lead. It was short lived as Mikola tried a “do or die” maneuver at turn 11 and ran into Sy, taking himself out and leaving Sy to rejoin in fourth spot just in front of Pena. Winslow won from O’Hara, Avila and Sy. Dado’s drive from the back of the grid was a mature controlled effort. O’Hara meanwhile took all the risks and amazingly made it all the way up to second, on this occasion getting away with his more cavalier style.
Greg meanwhile led the class for the first few laps before Farrell found a way past. Moreno and Murphy then battled for second place, a fight that ended in tears when Moreno slammed into the back of Murphy under braking for turn four, the Irishman spinning out and hitting the wall backwards. Greg was out on the spot whilst Moreno continued to finish second in class with part of the Minardi car’s rear diffuser stuck to his front wing! The stewards took a dim view of Moreno’s driving and fined him $500 and deducted 10 championship points. This still gives Moreno a three point lead over Murphy.
The next event is at Sentul, Indonesia on August 21st and Pena goes there in the knowledge that he can head the time sheets, he now needs some luck to go with his driving skills. Murphy meanwhile still has a realistic chance of winning the Promotions Class Championship, assuming his rivals keep their driving clean.