Sandy fights for European Formula 3 Championship

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A dramatic weekend in Barcelona for the European Formula 3 Open Championship decider saw Ban Chang youngster Sandy Stuvik struggling with car problems during practice on Friday as he missed out the first free practice session due to an oil pressure problem.  Then, during Saturday morning’s qualifying session, Stuvik found himself fighting a huge over-steer in the car and could only manage a season worst P8 starting position for the afternoon’s race.

The 1st race of the weekend at the Barcelona Circuit on Nov. 9 saw Stuvik continue to struggle with his car’s steering problem but he gradually clawed his way up the field and eventually finished in fifth position.  Meanwhile his championship rival Ed Jones took the chequered flag to win the race and take over the overall championship lead.

Stuvuk leads a group of three cars through a corner during the European Formula 3 Open Championship season ending race weekend in Barcelona.Stuvuk leads a group of three cars through a corner during the European Formula 3 Open Championship season ending race weekend in Barcelona.

News emerged later however that Jones had raced at the Barcelona Circuit only 2 weeks prior to this event, in direct contradiction with F3 rules which prohibits testing on championship circuits.  A protest was subsequently filed and accepted for hearing by the organizer committee at a later date.

For Sunday’s race on Nov. 10, Stuvik’s car set-up was modified for a lower rear ride height before qualifying and finally the young Thai driver again had a car he could race with and managed P2 position in the qualification, just one tenth behind Jones in P1.

Sandy Stuvik waits in his car in the pit lane during qualification at the Barcelona race circuit in Spain, Saturday, Nov. 9.Sandy Stuvik waits in his car in the pit lane during qualification at the Barcelona race circuit in Spain, Saturday, Nov. 9.

For the final race of the season the Thai driver suffered an unusually slow getaway from the grid and dropped to 5th position, before quickly getting past the drivers in front and up to 3rd.  Jones was out in the lead again but he pushed his tires too hard in the opening part of the race and with the graining taking effect he started dropping backwards, first getting overtaken by Alex Cougnaud and soon after by Stuvik.  By the end of the race the Thai driver was in second place and Jones had dropped to 5th.  Frenchman Alex Cougnaud, also from RP Motorsport, won the race.

Sandy Stuvik (2nd left) congratulates Alex Cougnaud (2nd right) after the Frenchman won the final race of the championship, Sunday, Nov. 10.  Stuvik placed second in the race.Sandy Stuvik (2nd left) congratulates Alex Cougnaud (2nd right) after the Frenchman won the final race of the championship, Sunday, Nov. 10.  Stuvik placed second in the race.

The summary of the season is that Sandy Stuvik has the most points, 267 vs Jones 256 points, but the championship is decided on only 14 of the 16 race results and since the Thai driver has finished every single race in 5th place or higher, he has to drop valuable points.  On the net points list Jones leads with 256 vs Stuvik’s 247.  The championship remains undecided however until after the protest hearing against Jones by the Formula 3 tribunal, which is scheduled to take place at the end of November.