Competing in the F3 Brazilian Open, Venezuelan pilotRobert La Rocca would see action against the who's who of Formula 3 driversat the famed Interlagos Circuit in Sao Paulo Brazil. Home of the final roundin the Formula One World Championship, Interlagos features a magnificenttrack design with elevation changes and a mixture of different types ofcorners. Coming to grips with a new car, new team and new facility, La Roccaheld his own and impressed in the progress while battling for a podiumresult in the annual event.
"This was my first time back in the car since my test in England a fewmonths ago," expressed La Rocca. "Also, this was my first time in an F3 carin drivable conditions. The power and grip is incredible and is a lot to getaccustomed to when you are battling multi-time champions at a new track.Improving every session, I think I proved that I have the necessary speedand ability to compete with these machines."
Learning the track, the team and most importantly the car, La Rocca wouldimprove his speed and overall lap time with each and every passing session.Building confidence on one of the most challenging and high speed tracks inthe world, the Venezuelan would progress through the official test sessionswithout incident and prepare for his three heat races that would ultimatelyset the grid for the main event.
La Rocca continued, "My three heat races went well. I ran in the top fivefor the majority of the time and my lap times were consistent with the fastguys."
In the first of three heat races, La Rocca would score a solid fifth placeresult and would back that up with a sixth and second in heats two andthree. Utilizing a point system to set the grid for the main event, La Roccawould line up outside the front row in his first official F3 race weekend.
Getting an average start in the main event, La Rocca would fall back andsettle into the third position. Biding his time and waiting for the rightmoment to attack, the fourth place driver, who was penalized in the thirdand final heat race for jumping the start and causing an incident, began tomake contact with the rear of La Rocca's car.
"It is a long race and I got hit three times in one lap. In the process ofall the contact, I lost two positions and was forced to try and work my wayback forward," continued La Rocca.
La Rocca worked hard to get past a few drivers and fight for the race win.Forced to drive hard, the F2000 Championship Series driver was blocked onmore than one occasion and when making a pass to regain the fourth position,both drivers misjudged their speed and braking points and eventually madecontact. Unable to rejoin the race, La Rocca was very sad to have apotential podium result taken from his grasps in such an important event.
"I can't thank my team and supporters enough for their hard work anddedication. To come here and compete against guys like Lucas Foresti who wasan F3 Sudam Series, British F3, GP3 and World Series by Renault driver aswell as Andre Negrao who raced F3 in Brazil, Formula Renault 2.0 in Europeand last year competed in the World Series by Renault as well as severalother high profile race and championship winners is something special. I washoping to come home with a podium result but I learned a lot and will beable to transfer that knowledge to my 2012 racing season."