Lonely Pawlaczek wins at Silverstone
Back in 2005 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Formula One suffered one of the most embarrassing incidents ever to hit the sport. Just six cars took to the grid following safety concerns with the Michelin tyres used by all but three of the teams.
This week’s FR X-90 meeting at Silverstone brought back some shuddering memories of that day as just nine cars took to the grid for the third round of the RRLeagues Championship. One thing that was certainly different was the action on track which, when it occurred, was enthralling viewing.
Qualifying, at least for pole, was really over before it started. Max Haas, on his first flying lap, set an astonishing target of a 1:32.185. For the remainder of the session a number of he drivers tried, but ultimately failed, to put pressure on Haas. Jim Britton, struggling to get any extra pace out of his car, finished third but over a second behind Haas. Indeed, he could have been pipped for that spot by Dusan Magyar who, on his last attempt as the last man on track, lost control of his car coming out of Luffield when well up on Britton. Radek Pawlaczek showed very good pace, but really demonstrated just how impressive Haas’ time was, finishing second on the grid, but half a second off the German’s time. Gerasimos Cassel showed decent pace to secure fifth place on the grid but behind these five, Locken, Fillingham, Brittain and Fernandes struggled to put in a decent time.
Off the grid, Max Haas made a brilliant start from pole to lead into Copse corner with Jim Britton following him through as a poor start from Pawlaczek saw him being challenged by Magyar to even hold on to third. Further back on the grid, Marcel Locken got a decent initial getaway but as soon, as he applied an amount of throttle, the car broke its grip and slewed left into the path of Clive Brittain and the two collided before they’d even crossed the start line. Haas continued with the performance he showed in qualifying and started to gently but consistently pull away from Britton and Pawlaczek. Those two would provide the most exciting battle of the day, Briton holding on to his car with white knuckles and Pawlaczek sat behind calmly waiting for a significant error that looked like it could happen at any time but never did. The Brit rode a rollercoaster for twelve laps with Pawlaczek pushing his nose into more and more gaps until finally getting past the swashbuckling Britton on Lap 13 through Copse. The gap to Haas at this stage was over eight seconds but Pawlaczek soon started to make inroads into that lead and was recording fastest lap after fastest lap. Further down the field, Fillingham had already parked his car in the pits and dejectedly retired to his motor home, and possibly to retire from the series. Cassel was soon to follow and a terminal failure for the unfortunate Britton also saw him on a scooter back to the pits. The excitement was building though as Pawlaczek got closer and closer to Haas until, and as a fitting epitaph of the day, Haas’ car slowed to a halt on the infield of the final corner in front of stands full of baying fans, already heading for the car parks.
Pawlaczek pushed on and did some superb exhibition laps for the fans that remained and ended up winning the race uncontested, followed home by Dusan Magyar and Clive Brittain - no-one really knowing how good those performances were with nothing to compare them to. Fernandes and Locken rounded out the finishers