SA teen shines in Euro F3 Open
WAVING THE SA FLAG HIGH: Liam Venter shone in the European Formula 3 Open championship during Round 2 of the Winter Series at Jerez in Spain.
JEREZ, Spain - Liam Venter shone in the European Formula 3 Open championship during Round 2 of the Winter Series at Jerez in Spain last weekend (March 2-3, 2013) but was "robbed" of his first podium finish with just a few laps to go.
Venter, who made the step up to F3 for 2013, went into the event - his first race at this level - eager to build on the potential shown during testing at the Paul Ricard circuit - and he didn’t disappoint.
During practice, after using the opening two sessions to learn the track and bed-in his F308 Dallara, he topped the pace in sessions three and four, eventually finishing P4 third in the highly competitive Copa class.
He continued to progress in final practice and was second in class with 1min38.934, only 0.054sec off the top time.
Unfortunately qualifying didn’t go as well and Venter had to settle for sixth but he bounced back in the race and made an amazing start moving up to second in class on the opening lap.
The 18-year-old then ran in that position until just four laps from the end when he and a rival collided, puncturing his right rear tyre. Despite that disappointment Venter was still happy with the weekend.
“It's a shame how things finished but I am still pleased," he said. "To finish third in class on the first day was very encouraging and practice on Saturday morning was great. We were really confident going into qualifying but it didn’t go to plan - I just wasn’t in the same mode as I was in practice.
"I used the race to make up for it though, and I made a great start and on the first lap gained seven or eight places in total. Then there was a safety-car on lap three and I was behind a huge group of 12 cars. They were all fighting among themselves. I thought it wasn’t really worth taking any risks and ruining my race so I tried to restrain myself but still maintained the gap to the person behind me in third.
“With about three laps to go, as I descended into the first corner and as I got to my apex, the driver behind me made contact and pushed me straight on. His front wing sliced a big hole in my rear right tyre and cracked the rim. That was the end of my race.”
Venter was back home in SA until he returns to Europe for a series of three tests ahead of the start of the European Formula 3 Open championship at Paul Ricard over April 26-28, 2013.
“I am popping back to Johannesburg because after this it is really busy. I will be in South Africa for six days then I fly straight to Barcelona for a two-day test," he explained. "Then within a week or two we test at Spa-Francorchamps then go to Silverstone to test on the GP.
“We were so close to success at Jerez that I just really want to get out there again now and try and finish the job.”