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Friday favourite: The Dallara that triggered Reynard’s F3 exodus

Reynard’s declining fortunes during the 1993 British Formula 3 championship left Kelvin Burt with no choice but to throw his lot in with Dallara to keep his title hopes alive. But the F393 proved perfectly suited to the Paul Stewart Racing driver who collected five wins from his first six races in it

Kelvin Burt

Photo by: Motorsport Images

That Kelvin Burt never finished lower than second aboard the Dallara F393 on his way to the 1993 British Formula 3 title makes his pick of the Italian-built machine as his favourite car somewhat self-explanatory. Responding to its vast superiority over the Reynard 933 in which he’d started the season, Burt’s Paul Stewart Racing team jumped ship for the tenth round of the championship at Donington and never looked back.

PLUS: How a timely change of chassis transformed Formula 3 forever

He duly won first time out, which set something of a trend for the remainder of the year. In fact, the only occasion Burt didn’t win across the six British F3 races he contested with the Dallara was at Pembrey, where he struggled with tyre wear and dropped behind Edenbridge Dallara man Oliver Gavin. Perhaps even more impressively, he was only beaten to pole once.

“It became obvious by the summer that that was the car and we weren’t going to be able to compete with what we’d got,” remembers Burt, who had seen Gavin surge into contention with four wins on the trot after making his own leap from Reynard to Dallara. The move was widely copied, to the extent that Reynard had disappeared from the grid in 1994.

“It just felt tighter,” Burt explains of the difference between the Reynard and Dallara. “Torsionally, the car was much better in terms of the gearbox [the Reynard had suffered from flexing]. The car felt like it was on top of the road, instead of in the road, that’s how I described it.

“The Reynard felt more planted because it was basically softer and it was gripping the road more. The Dallara was more on top of the road because it was tighter. It felt like a car on its toes, more nimble let’s say.

“But it won twice because Neil Brown could turn the [Mugen] engines up more without them detonating because they didn’t ‘bog’ the engine so much. So not only was it actually quicker through the air, it had more power as well with like-for-like the same engine, so it was quicker in both ways.”

Burt took pole and victory on his first start in the car at Donington, and was never off the podium for the remainder of the 1993 British F3 campaign

Burt took pole and victory on his first start in the car at Donington, and was never off the podium for the remainder of the 1993 British F3 campaign

Photo by: Motorsport Images

When it came time to switch camps for Donington, Burt wasn’t fazed and stresses that he didn’t think too deeply about the challenge of a mid-season fresh start. Despite not making a seat and testing the car until the Friday before the meeting, Burt adapted to the Dallara quickly and snared pole. He staved off pressure from Ricardo Rosset (Alan Docking Dallara) away from the line and after a left-rear puncture dropped pursuer Gavin into the clutches of Marc Goossens (West Surrey Racing Dallara), Burt won by an impressive 9.27s.

The well-oiled PSR machine that had delivered Gil de Ferran the title in dominant fashion in 1992 certainly helped, as did Burt’s laid-back approach. But that he could get the car so quickly into a position of superiority relative to the rest who had several races under their belt in the car Burt reckons is a credit to the F393.

“We won first time out with it straight out of the box, that’s how good they were,” he says. “You just put the set-up on that they said. I just liked driving on the limit and I found it quite easy to go straight to the limit.

"The Dallara was more on top of the road because it was tighter. It felt like a car on its toes, more nimble let’s say" Kelvin Burt

“I didn’t look at it as a big deal. I just thought, ‘okay, another car, let’s see what we can do with this’. I was much more basic in my approach in those days I suppose.”

Then came Pembrey, a race Burt describes as “depressing” and suggested he wouldn’t have things all his own way in the battle against Gavin now they had equal equipment. He’d pipped the Edenbridge driver in qualifying by 0.01s, but on the dustier side of the grid was beaten away from the line and they remained in the same order to the flag. Burt reckons he wouldn’t have been able to fend Gavin off even if he’d started on the clean side.

“We don’t know what went wrong there,” he says. “The tyres kind of melted, I ended up driving around on chewing gum. Apart from that, we were away.”

Still, he responded in fine style to clinch the title with an expertly-judged defensive drive on the Silverstone National circuit, after Gavin had to pit to replace a broken wing, then one month later on the full Grand Prix layout beat the field comfortably by six seconds.

Burt says he took a relaxed approach to his mid-season switch to the Dallara

Burt says he took a relaxed approach to his mid-season switch to the Dallara

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Only at the Thruxton finale when thwarted by traffic was Burt pipped to pole by Goossens, but he made up for it in the race. After dropping behind Gavin to third in the early laps, Burt picked his way back to the lead with a move on Goossens Autosport called “probably the passing manoeuvre of the season – clinical and clean, under braking around the outside into the chicane” to end the campaign on a high.

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His form also translated to the season-ending Macau Grand Prix invitational against the crème of the Formula 3 crop from across the world. Burt drove a cautious race to sixth in the first heat, then came alive in the second to finish second on the road behind street circuit specialist and fellow Dallara runner Jorg Muller (the 1991 Monaco F3 GP winner racing for Helmut Marko’s RSM team). It was enough to put Burt third on aggregate, joining Japanese champion Tom Kristensen with the TOM’S 033F chassis on the rostrum, to secure a 100% podium record with the car.

PLUS: The Monaco win that started another triple crown

Later an underutilised Formula 1 tester for Jordan and Arrows, as well as a British Touring Car Championship race-winner with Ford and Volvo, Burt also drove the “iconic” Williams FW15C for a day as part of his prize for winning the 1993 F3 title, but puts the Dallara above it as his favourite because the final gizmo-laden active F1 machine “wasn’t really my car”.

“That was a great day, but it was one day,” he concludes.

Burt took third on aggregate at Macau to end his time in the Dallara on a high

Burt took third on aggregate at Macau to end his time in the Dallara on a high

Photo by: Sutton Images

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