Super Prix Formula 3
Brand's Hatch, 11th
This is an extract from a full
report on the Cellnet F3 Superprix which appeared in the
15 October 1987 issue of Autosport. Many thanks to the
magazine and the writer, Tony Dodgins.
We had torrential rain, a cancelled day, dry, wet, and
damp all in the course of the second Cellnet Superprix.
We had minor incidents, major incidents, re-started races
and red flags. Through it all, three drivers stood out:
Johnny Herbert, Bertrand Gachot and Martin Donnelly.
Martin was ultimately unable to stay with Johnny and
Bertrand in the final, the latter turning in a brilliant
performance after finding himself ninth on his semi-final
grid. His efforts in that twice halted three-lap semi
were nothing short of sensational and he looked fair set
in the Final until tapped at Druids by Danielsson. Johnny
then seized the initiative and thereafter countered every
move to score a faultless win, emphatically ending that
barren spell that has afflicted him since June.
Totally dry conditions greeted drivers for the first
time during the weekend as the field assembled for the
first semi-final. With the British championship decided,
that confident edge seems to have returned to Johnny
Herbert's driving and he made no mistake off the line to
head the field through Paddock. If he had managed starts
like that all year, he may have bagged even more
successes, but clearly nobody could hold a candle to him
in this race. With the programme running behind schedule,
the race had been reduced to 15 laps and Johnny romped
away unchallenged, 12secs to the good by the chequer.
Many had anticipated a battle with Danielsson, but the
Swede, although comfortable in second spot, could offer
no threat. Herbert was 1 sec clear by Westfield second
time round and 3secs up after three tours.
We then looked to Damon Hill. Could he oust Danielsson
for second? The answer to that was a very firm 'no' as
the RT31 made very firm contact with the tyres at
Westfield. Exit Hill, or so we thought... Damon was later
found sitting in the front of the Intersport
transporter/hospitality suite. He was in the front - you
know, the bit reserved for debriefs, chats, coffees and
"You see that metal plate over there," he
said, pointing to a piece of aluminium not in keeping
with the general decor, "well that's covering a hole
where Monti put his fist earlier in the year. It's been
well used today..." Meanwhile Glenn Waters' crew
readied the car just in case there were not enough left
to fill the final grid.
Back on the circuit, the race had settled into a
pattern, with not a great deal happening. Herbert ran out
a comfortable winner with Danielsson an equally secure
runner-up and Dave Coyne untroubled in third. Frank Biela
drove a steady race to claim fourth, clear of a delighted
Beto Jimenez, still oozing the delights of his new
Behind the Mexican, Osvaldo Negri was doing a fine job
with his TechSpeed Reynard. This lad, with a budget and
some testing is going to need watching most carefully.
The problematic practice brigade was flying, too,
headed by Peter Kox. At two- thirds distance I put a
watch on the gap between Herbert and Kox. It went out by
just half a second between laps 9 and 10, Peter in
traffic. Bancroft, too, was making good progress until
halted by a recurrence of his battery problem.
The race's main interest was now Negri, Rosso, Rydell
and the flying Kox in combat over sixth spot. With the
semis deciding the final's grid slots, nobody was about
to pussy foot. Rydell, in particular, was impressive,
diving inside Rosso at Paddock after the classic feint to
the outside. It was a move you expect from a Brands Hatch
veteran not a 20 year old Swede having his first
experience of the circuit.
More heroics were coming from young Raphael del Sarte,
storming along in a clear B class lead and taking a new
lap record to boot. Terrific.
Of the rest, we had lost Robert Amren with a drive
shaft failure, Gerrit van Kouwen who was off at
Stirlings, while Peter Hardman was just outside the top
10, lacking a rhythm that comes with racing miles.
Semi-Final 1: 15 laps - 39.20 miles
1 Johnny Herbert (Reynard-VW 873), 21m 36.31s,
2 Thomas Danielsson (Reynard-Alfa Romeo 873), 21m 48.29s
3 Dave Coyne (Reynard-VW 873), 21m57.85s
4 Frank Biela (Reynard-VW 873), 22m 01.01s
5 Gilberto Jimenez (Reynard-VW 873), 22m 08.34s
6 Osvaldo Negri (Reynard-VW873), 22m l1.80s
7 Peter Kox (Reynard-Toyota 873), 22m 12.29s
8 Rickard Rydell (Reynard-VW 873), 22m 12.33s
9 Victor Rosso (Ralt-VW RT31), 22m 12.79s
10 Tim Davies (Swallow-VW 387), 22m 1 3.66s
11 Peter Hardman (Reynard-VW 873), 22m 23.42s
12 Raphael Real del Sarte (Ralt-VW RT30), 22m 35.88s
13 Phil Andrews (Reynard-Alfa Romeo 8733), 22m37.34s
14 Jo Zeller, (Ralt-VW RT30), 22m 42.92s
15 Peter Boutwood (Ralt-VW RT30), 22m 43.16s
16, Hers Hillebrink (Reynard-VW 23m 00.08s
17 James Shead (Ralt-VW RT30), 23m 05.25s
18 Paul Sebburn (Ralt-VW RT30), 14 laps
Fastest lap: Herbert, 1m24.94s, 110.77mph.
The previously scheduled 30 laps were reduced to 20
amid very real fears that should anything hold up the
final, then the impending gloom would close in.
A look at the front two rows of the grid had everyone
rubbing their hands in expectation; Herbert, Donnelly,
Danielsson, and Gachot. They lined up in their current
Lucas British F3 championship positions, hard,
uncompromising men all.
At the green Danielsson shot left and contact with
Gachot looked inevitable. The Belgian braved it out
around the outside of Paddock and momentarily we had them
three abreast. Gachot was forced out on to the old
circuit but chopped across behind Donnelly to claim
second on the run up to Druids with Danielsson third and
Herbert contemplating the wonders of the Brands Hatch
McCarthy, meanwhile, shot his bolt with an attempt to
at Herbert going into Surtees. The pair made contact and
Pel spun across the kerbing. There he sat till everyone
had gone by.
The quartet was still as one as it streamed across the
line, already well clear of Galvin and Coyne. At Druids,
however, it was all change. Gachot was clipped up the
rear by Danielsson and did an impromptu 360 degree
rotation as the Swede tried to miss him and ended up in
the tyres and out of the Super Prix. Thomas explains:
"Martin and Bertrand went in together and Bert ran a
little wide. I figured if I got the power on I might be
able to pass on the inside but I slid into out his side
pod. It's a real shame because Dave (Morgan) and the boys
had done a great job with the wet settings - my car was
terrific." Herbert gratefully went by into second
and Gachot resumed third.
It soon became apparent that Martin Donnelly was not
entirely happy: "We softened the settings after the
semi, but the extra roll in the corners aggravated the
slides and meant I could not get the power down so
Johnny quickly closed in for the kill and shot up the
inside of the Ralt at Dingle Dell. It was not to be a
Cellnet win. Herbert was driving quite beautifully,
balancing the car on the throttle as it tried to get away
from him on the treacherously slippery exit to Graham
The recovering Gachot was now right with Donnelly and
needed to get by as soon as possible. The problem
Donnelly described was never so apparent as now, Gachot
with the power down so much earlier out of Graham Hill
Bend. Martin moved left to block, Gachot flicked back
right to give himself the optimum line through Surtees,
gained better traction and was through.
At this point, Herbert was almost three seconds to the
good and there were 16 to go. A Benetton test was at
Watches on the gap revealed a constant margin of 2.5s
for the next couple of laps, but suddenly the Marlboro
car was reeling in the Stelrad one and the gap was down
to 1.3s. Next time round, however, it was back to 2s and
there it stayed for a while until the pair began to get
in among traffic. It then extended to 3s for the first
time and the most worrying time for Johnny passed without
incident as he dealt magnificently with the traffic.
Bertrand, meanwhile, encountered a car at paddock on
successive laps and could not close the gap own. So
evenly matched were the pair that they recorded fastest
race laps identical to the hundredth. Gachot adding:
"I could have won if it were not for the clout from
Danielsson at Druids. We were very even and whoever was
ahead was going to win."
Herbert, though, never put a foot wrong and like his
semi-final performance, this was faultless. Leading in
such tricky conditions is always difficult and he took
the chequer having turned in super drives in both wet and
dry conditions. Clearly the team had solved any trouble
they had with wet settings, and Saturday morning seemed
long way away...
Behind Gachot, there was an epic tussle between
Galvin, Coyne and Biela, with Mark finding his car very
difficult to drive but nonetheless doing a sterling job:
"I really was having to do some very nasty things to
people to keep them behind..."
At half distance Coyne eventually made it by and
Mark's valiant defence then seemed to wane, Biela through
as well next time round.
Behind the German, Brabham, Simmiss and Schonstrom
were locked in combat over seventh, Victor Rosso having
also been in their before spinning out at Stirlings. This
spoiled a fine effort from the Argentinian, up from 18th
to 8th in five laps.
Rosso's progress, however, had been assisted by a
number of spins and excursions. Harrington and Favre were
first lap casualties at Druids, Rydell's hopes ended at
Surtees on that first lap, and Jiminez locked up and went
off at the headline way while remaining a finer 74 on lap
four, to be joined their two laps later by Peter Kox.
John Pratt, meanwhile, fell foul of a clout up the
rear from Damon Hill, Brands Hatch's favourite son
charging through the field after indeed being permitted
to start from the back.
Galvin was now falling into the clutches of a frantic
Brabham, Simmiss and Schonstrom, Craig going like never
before. With five to go Niclas went inside Simmiss
beautifully at Paddock and next time tried the same move
on Galvin. The pair touched, Galvin spun and rejoined
behind Brabham, and Simmiss gratefully seized sixth and
headed off up the road after Biela. To give you some idea
of how quickly the Kiwi was going, he finished just 0.3s
behind the German having recorded fastest lap of the
race, 0.03s quicker than Herbert and Gachot!
Further down Raphael real del Sarte did it again,
claiming a place on the rostrum with 16th overall, the
Class B winner by a clear 8 seconds from Swede Hans
Hillebrink and then Peter Boutwood. this trio were the
only one as remotely in it.
With the chequer only just pre-empting darkness,
summer fireworks managed to be dry enough to crackle
spectacularly into action. There had been so much water
last weekend that they somehow seemed rather incongruous.
Final Results - 20 laps, 52.20 miles
1 Johnny Herbert (GB), EJR/Stelrad + Gemini + RfB
(Reynard-VW873) - 34m 41.27s
2 Bertrand Gachot (B), West Surrey/Marlboro (Ralt-Alfa
RT31) - 34:44.14
3 Martin Donnelly (GB), Intersport/Cellnet + Ricoh
(Ralt-Toyota RT31 - 34:48.11
4 Dave Coyne(GB), Bross/Konig (Reynard-VW873) - 35:11.53
5 Frank Biela (D), ACE/Rifle Jeans (Reynard-VW 873) -
6 Craig Simmiss (NZ) , Wheeltorque (Reynard-VW873) -
7 Niclas Schonstrom (S), Swallow/Mobira (Reynard-VW873) -
8 Gary Brabham (AUS), Jack Brabham/Panasonic (Ralt-VW
RT31) - 35:19.10
9 Mark Galvin (IRL), Docking/Shorehill Investments
(Reynard-Alfa 873) - 35:23.73
10 Damon Hill (GB), Intersport/Cellnet + Ricoh
(Ralt-Toyota RT31) - 35:37.01
11 Osvaldo Negri (BR), TechSpeed/Amigos do Brazil
(Reynard-VW873) - 35:51.80
12 Perry McCarthy (GB), Madgwick/Hawtal Whiting
(Reynard-Alfa 873) - 35:56.05
13 Tim Davies (GB), Bob Salisbury/Autowindscreens
(Swallow-VW387) - 36:04.89
14 Peter Zakowski (D), Schafer/Amdahl (Ralt-VW RT31), 19
15 Peter Hardman (GB), EJR/Whitehouse (Reynard-VW873), 19
Many thanks to Autosport and
the writer for the above report. All rights reserved.
The series of historic reports comes to you from the archives of
fan Harry Lythgoe
This page prepared 31st December 1997.