Pizzonia faces stern test at Pau

The International Formula 3 race at Pau will provide another opportunity for British series leader Antonio Pizzonia to prove himself against the top talents in the junior categories

Pizzonia faces stern test at Pau

The Brazilian will face French series leader Ryo Fukuda and last year's French F3 runner-up Jonathan Cochet, whom, according to Autosport magazine, are rated as Pizzonia's chief rivals.

Eight drivers from the British series will make the trip to the one-off race, which until 1997 was part of the FIA F3000 championship. As well as Pizzonia, these include Takuma Sato and Ben Collins of Carlin Motorsport.

Promatecme team boss Serge Saulnier pointed to Fukuda and Cochet as the top contenders for the race. "They are quick in France, and they have raced four or five times at Pau," said the Frenchman.

In addition, he considers Sato in with a chance of victory. "If Sato is able to stay on the track he should be able to do a good job."

Carlin Motorsport boss Trevor Carlin agreed with Saulnier, rating Sato, Pizzonia and Collins as the best chance of toppling the locals.

"The French F3 drivers have an advantage as they've been racing at Pau for around ten years now," he said. "Also, the tyres we'll be racing on - Michelins - are very similar to the ones the French series uses. We'll be learning the track and the tyres, and they'll be able to just get on with the job.

"But Takuma's raced at Macau, and Ben has done street races in the 'States, so they should be bang on it.," he added.

Saulnier too puts a premium on experience for running at the demanding street circuit in the South West of France, but believes Pizzonia may be able to overcome this.

"There are two session of free practice, and as far as I can see Pizzonia seems to learn circuits and get on the pace very quickly," said the Frenchman, who runs teams in the British and French F3 series'.

Carlin considers running at the street race invaluable for drivers, as much needed experience for more senior categories.

"It's a golden opportunity for young drivers to learn a street circuit, as they don't really get that many chances these days - drivers can get to F1where you've got Monaco, and Champ cars where there are a lot of street circuits. Win, lose, or draw, they need as much experience as possible," he claimed.

The recent Monaco Grand Prix, where only eight cars finished out of 22 would seem to bear that out.

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