Davide Leone (March 783) led the way in the FIA Historic Formula 3 European Cup at Zandvoort, as the Italian won Saturday’s race and took second on Sunday to become the overall winner in the pre-79 C1 class. With a pair of fourths on both days, David Thorburn (Ralt RT3) overcame a practice crash to claim 1979-’84 C2 class honours. Sunday’s race was won by Frédéric Rouvier (March 783) but the Frenchman was ruled out for overall honours when he was disqualified from race 1.
In Saturday’s first race, Davide Leone led from start to finish, the Italian aiding his cause by opening up a four-second gap in four laps, while the trio of Frédéric Lajoux (March 793), Patrick Andriessen (Ralt RT3) and Frédéric Rouvier fiercely battled over second place. Rouvier had started from sixth on the grid, having been in trouble in qualifying, but was fourth on the opening lap and second by lap 3. Lajoux then repassed the Frenchman, but Rouvier was back into second place on lap 5, his disadvantage to Leone now 6.5 seconds.
On the opening lap, Leone’s fellow front-row starter Michael Ringstrøm (Martini MK42) got into a spin at the back of the circuit to drop back to 13th place, but the Dane fought back to be seventh when the safety car came out on lap 8, as Andriessen’s car broke a wheelnut and crashed into the barriers coming out of the chicane.
In a bunched-up field after the restart, with three laps left to run, Ringstrøm was soon back up to fourth place, passing the Ralt RT3s of Fraser Gray and David Thorburn and the Chevron B38 of Robert Moores in quick succession, those three having had a race-long midfield battled with the Ralt RT1 of Volker Böhm and Keith White, White’s example having been repaired after a big practice shunt on Friday.
At the front, Davide Leone held on to win from Rouvier by 1.3 seconds, with Lajoux a further four tenths adrift. Leone also won the pre-79 C1 class, with Rouvier and Moores up next, while Lajoux cornered the C2 class win ahead of Ringstrøm and Thorburn. After the race, however, Rouvier was disqualified for a restrictor transgression, relegating him to the back of the grid for Sunday’s race.
“The race was very tough because I knew everyone behind was very fast”, said the winner. “This was probably the race with the best competition all year. I still managed to create a four-second lead, and after that I started to manage my lead. Then the safety came out and it was all back to zero! There were lots of marbles in the corners, especially in the chicane, so it was very tricky. I knew Rouvier was very fast and for a moment I thought that I would lose the race. So it was hard work in those final laps…”
On Sunday morning, Davide Leone stormed away from pole, but after a safety-car restart on lap 4, Frédéric Rouvier soon stormed past to open up a gap that increased to 3.7 seconds at the finish. Coming all the way from the back, Rouvier was up to fourth after an incredible opening lap and was promoted to second when Michael Ringstrøm outbraked himself and crashed into Fred Lajoux at the end of the main straight, forcing the safety car to come out.
Behind the two leaders, Valerio Leone drove a lonely race to pick up the final podium spot ahead of the fierce battle for the C2 class win. All race, David Thorburn and Fraser Gray were never more than a second apart, with Thorburn fending off every challenge that Gray threw at him. In the end, they crossed the line 36 and 37 seconds adrift from winner Rougier.
Another driver quickly moving up the order after trouble on Saturday was Patrick Andriessen, charging up to fourth before disaster struck again, a broken throttle cable leaving him stranded at turn 9. This not only elevated Thorburn and Gray into fourth and fifth, but also helped Robert Moores to claim sixth from Volker Böhm, the pair taking third places in C1 and C2 respectively.
“It felt like Playstation coming from the back!” said the race winner. “I had a perfect start, took the inside line into Tarzan and then the outside line through Hugenholtz, and that was the best way. The car was perfect, I was faster than Davide – it was a dream. Shame about [the disqualification] yesterday, but I’m happy for Davide winning the overall title.”
“We were on different tyre strategies, yesterday I started on new tyres and today it was the opposite”, Davide Leone explained. “Yesterday I was afraid that Frédéric would pass me but he didn’t – but today he did. Still, I’m proud to have won the Cup.”
FINAL CUP RESULTS
On aggregate, Davide Leone (March 783) won the Cup in the 1971-’78 C1 class, with Robert Moores (Chevron B38) and Marco Coppini (March 773) in second and third. David Thorburn won the C2 class for 1979-’84 cars, ahead of Fraser Gray and Volker Böhm, in a clean sweep of Ralt RT3s.