Stuvik wins at Monza to retain championship lead

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The RP Motorsport Team looked dominant during the Friday testing at the Monza Circuit in Italy last weekend, with Thailand’s Sandy Stuvik setting the fastest times during the three test sessions.  However, by the time Saturday’s F3 Open qualification started, the weather conditions had changed dramatically and the Italian circuit was wet under a steady drizzle of rain. 

The compromised wet set-up used by the RP team on the F3 cars would not be enough, as all their cars finished down the order.  Stuvik could only manage a P6, his lowest this season, as the start position for the first race.

Sandy Stuvik (bottom) steers his car through the chicane while leading at the Monza Circuit in Italy, Sunday, Oct. 6. Sandy Stuvik (bottom) steers his car through the chicane while leading at the Monza Circuit in Italy, Sunday, Oct. 6.

With the overhead conditions changing by the hour, the Monza circuit had all but dried up by the start of the opening race and all the European Formula 3 cars had reverted back to slick tires.  Championship leader Stuvik had a very good start and moved from 6th to 3rd after the first corner and on the following lap he moved up to 2nd position.  The Thai racer managed to catch up to the leader, Jones from the UAE, before his tires started fading and he would eventually be overtaken in the final stages of the race by two other cars, to end the race in 4th position.

The result of the first race meant that the Thai driver lost his F3 Open championship lead to Ed Jones by 5 points, the first time this season that Stuvik has not led the championship.

Sunday morning qualifying was again on a dry track and the fastest times could only be set by slip-streaming other cars around the 5.8 km long Monza circuit.  The RP team drivers managed the technique to perfection as they locked out the top 1-2-3 places, with Stuvik in the end securing P3 behind Uruguay’s Urrutia in second and France’s Cougnaud taking his first pole position of the season.

Rain fell again at lunch time on Sunday and a damp but drying track invited the Formula 3 grid for the second race, leaving everyone to gamble between wet or dry tires.  Stuvik opted to start with slick tires although light rain was still falling, while his strongest rival Ed Jones opted for wet weather tires.

Sandy Stuvik (2nd right) celebrates on the podium after winning Race 2 at the Monza Circuit in Italy.Sandy Stuvik (2nd right) celebrates on the podium after winning Race 2 at the Monza Circuit in Italy.

As the red lights went out at Monza the Thai driver again had another characteristic fast start and managed to stay with his team mates safely through the first corner, then the positions started changing lap by lap as the drivers took advantage of Monza long straights to pass one another.  By lap 4 Stuvik was up into 2nd place and would swap positions virtually every lap until lap 9 when he went up into the lead.

Four different drivers led the race at one time or another, but on the final lap it was Stuvik who intelligently planned his overtaking maneuver and stormed up into the lead and built a gap around the sweeping Parabolica curve to take the checkered flag 1.2 second ahead of his French team mate, Alexandre Caugnaud in second.

With the Monza victory, Sandy Stuvik moved back into the lead of the championship with 239 points over Ed Jones’ 219 points, as the European Formula 3 Open grid moves on to Spain for the final showdown of the 2013 season in Barcelona over the weekend 9 to 10 November.