St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada – Entering the final race of the 2012 European F3 Open Championship leading the points over his RP Motorsport teammate, Canadian formula car racer Gianmarco Raimondo would endure a challenging weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, Spain. Facing a multitude of challenges during the finale event, Raimondo ended P2 in the overall points and will now turn his focus to 2013.
Starting out with the first qualifying session, Raimondo’s weekend of bad luck would become apparent right from the start. Blocked during a potential pole position lap by another championship contender and one second shy of starting another qualifying lap before the checkered flag came out, Raimondo would find himself behind the eight ball for race one. With two competitive guest drivers who had raced the Formula Renault Eurocup the weekend prior, Raimondo ended up a disappointing P4.
“Qualifying could have seen us on pole, but was unfortunate,” stated Raimondo. “Fourth place was still a good attacking position for the race and also for the championship.”
A great race one would see Raimondo recover from a big lock up in turn one, which sent him back to seventh place. Coming back to finish in fourth, with third place championship points, and his nearest rival Niccolò Schirò placing second, Raimondo wasn’t able to extend his lead in the championship with the gap now narrowed to just one point before the last race.
“I’m happy I was able to recover from a potential accident in corner one, putting on a good show,” commented Raimondo.
The second qualifying session saw the RP Motorsport pilot in third, one position ahead of his teammate Schirò.
“My goal was to be in front of my teammate for the second race and we did just that,” continued Raimondo. “It was vital to be ahead as every point and position counts for the last race.”
With the championship coming down to the final race of the season, Raimondo would face a trio of unfortunate incidents that would derail his title hopes. First, rain would start to fall three minutes before the start of the race and with no extra time given to change tires or a wet race declared, Raimondo would start the final race on slick tires. Raimondo was then turned into by an oblivious driver, which resulted in a bent suspension. Finally, technical problems put a stamp on Raimondo’s unlucky weekend.
“I basically drove the race of my life, passing ten cars with a bent/partially fixed suspension, being a half second faster than my teammate with technical issues, in the rain,” explained Raimondo.
With the track quickly drying, Raimondo’s front tires would begin overheating as they were constantly being worked, seeing as they weren’t straight. This, combined with a technical problem forced Raimondo into the pits on the second to last lap, completely eliminating his hopes for the European F3 Open Championship title. His technical woes were a direct factor in Raimondo’s DNF after his engine stopped right at the final corner. Placing his car as far inside as possible to avoid the racing line and any collisions after his engine stopped, everyone was able to avoid Raimondo without changing their line, except his teammate and championship rival. With Schirò hitting his inside rear tire flat out, which completely split the rear end of Schirò’s car, Schirò was able to roll 200 meters to the finish line leaving Raimondo second in the championship points.
“I have no regret for what happened as I did absolutely everything I could on my part as the driver. Unfortunately it ended like this, but I will never forget how great my year was and how strong we were until the very end.”
Although Raimondo faced a disappointing end to his championship run, he still remains positive and will now turn his focus on his 2013 racing season.
With the 2012 season now at its conclusion and Raimondo the series vice-champion, you can find more information on the series by checking out www.f3open.net. Raimondo will now work to finalize plans for his 2013 season, and fans can catch up on all the latest news by checking out Gmo’s website at www.gianmarcoraimondo.com.