02 Oct Mixed emotions at Zandvoort
28th-29th September 2012, Zandvoort – It was a weekend of highs and lows for the Fortec FIA Formula 3 European Championship squad at Zandvoort. The 4.037 kilometer long circuit saw Brazilian Pipo Derani take two top ten finishes; despite a nineteenth place finish in race one after contact saw the young driver having to pit with a broken front wing and nose. For team-mates Felix Serralles and guest driver Alfonso Celis, the Dutch circuit took no prisoners seeing both have their fair share of race incidents.
The first race of the weekend saw good starts for Celis, Serralles and Derani, despite being behind the safety car after Lucas Wolf (URD Rennsport) parked his car on the formation lap. However the twists and turns of Zandvoort soon caught their first victim when on turn one Derani made contact with Lucas Auer (Prema Powerteam) in a battle for fifth. Derani pitted for a new front wing and to repair his nose cone, re-entering the race at the back of the grid.
On lap six the safety car was called back in, the restart saw Serralles sit in thirteenth and Celis in nineteenth whilst Derani pushed forwards from 26th. Just a lap later bad luck was to strike the team again when Serralles crashed into the Amaco barriers, sending the Puerto Rican out of the race and bringing out the safety car for a second time. Lap nine then saw Celis, who also races with Fortec in the Formula Renault NEC, stop out track putting an end to the newcomers race. Derani pushed on from the back of the grid and was gaining pace, but with little time left on the clock the experienced driver crossed the line in nineteenth.
After the disappointment of race one, hopes were high for the second race of the weekend. The opening lap saw Antonio Giovinazzi (Double R Racing) and Eddie Cheever (Prema Powerteam) collide, causing the first safety car intervention. The pack then bunched up the grid with Derani sitting well inside the top ten in fifth. After just a few laps the safety car was called in, only moments later to be called out again when Lucas Wolf (URD Rennsport) stopped out on track.
A clean restart was made and just as Serralles was looking to be gaining pace he went off track and out of the race. At the front of the grid Derani was maintaining chase in fifth and defending from a pushing Harry Tinknell (Carlin). Celis was also on the charge from behind, showing his skills learned from the Formula Renault NEC as he chased the pack ahead. The race, which had been cut short due to work needing to be done on the safety barriers, continued and the chequered flag was flown with Derani taking fifth and Celis seventeenth.
The third and final race of the weekend took place on Sunday afternoon and the pressure was on to take home the final championship points up for grabs from Zandvoort.
As the lights went out Celis, Derani and Serralles all made good starts, making up places off the grid. Derani sat in sixth and was on the charge for another top five finish whilst Celis and Serralles were also gunning to finish inside the points. The race continued and as a battle was being played out in front between the top two, positions behind remained unchanged.
Derani was battling it out with Raffele Marciello for fifth, however just as it looked like he would have to settle for sixth as the race entered its final few laps, Marciello lost his car and hit the barriers sending him out of the race. A safety car was called out whilst his car was recovered. The restart saw a good start for Derani who was now in fifth just behind Dani Kvyat (Carlin) but with little time left there was no time to make challenges seeing him cross the line in fifth, taking points for fourth due to Kvyat not being eligible to score pints towards the championship, whilst team-mate Seralles took fifteenth. Team-mate Celis had retired after going off track earlier in the race.
After successfully taking two top ten finishes at Zandvoort Derani commented: “It started off as a bad weekend when I lost my front wing and need my nose cone fixing but the team worked really quickly to get me back out on track. The last races saw big improvement and to take home two fifth places shows that we have definitely improved over the last rounds. I want to keep getting good results like this to show the hard work that me, Mick (my engineer) and my mechanics have done has paid off.“