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“The glory days of Pedro Pablo Calbimonte”

March 31, 2017

Race 3 National Class Podium (l-r) Pedro Pablo Calbimonte (BOL) T-Sport Dallara Mugen, Adderly Fong (CHN) CF Racing Dallara Mugen Honda, Spike Goddard (AUS) T-Sport Dallara Mugen Honda

In the early part of this decade, one of my first jobs in motorsport was to regularly cover the British Formula 3 International Series.

By this time the fields were thinning out and while occasionally drivers would drop in and out, the true competition at the front reflected that, although the series in this period still produced a number of high quality drivers.

For example Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz (then Jr), Kevin Magnussen, Brendon Hartley, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell amongst others all graduated from British F3 in this period, but realistically, the perceived glory days had passed.

One of the driver’s to make his way to British F3 at this time was 20-year-old Pedro Pablo Calbimonte. Hailing from Sucre, a city in the south-central region of Bolivia, it is fair to say (probably) that Calbimonte was not awful; he just rarely ever raced. In his permanent rustiness, he was just a little bit slow, a lot of the time.
After a season racing in the Master Junior Formula in Spain in 2007 – a sibling to Formula BMW – Calbimonte went back to karting for a short period, before disappearing from the racing scene for about four years.

The Bolivian returned to racing with Fortec in the dying Formula Renault UK 2.0 in 2011 and in a small field, made it his business to finish either last or toward the rear at every opportunity. This lasted for about seven rounds, when once again Calbimonte duly departed from the series.

Out of nothing, Calbimonte reappeared nearly a year later in British F3, having secured a National Class drive with T-Sport until the end of the season. He did reasonably for the most part, but then again, when your opponents consist wholly of Spike Goddard, Adderly Fong and Duvashen Padayachee {note 1}, the inconvenient factor known as “relative performance” comes into play.

While his first weekend at Spa-Francorchamps was relatively unspectacular, Calbimonte’s race craft raised eyebrows at the following meeting at Snetterton. To be fair, Calbimonte was the quickest of the National Class drivers in qualifying for Race One, although it came to naught in the race. From Friday into Saturday, it had rained overnight, but by as the racing action began, the track had dried out and the running was good for slick tyres.

The first two corners at Snetterton are made of a pair of double right-handers – not too dissimilar to the opening turns at Suzuka. Seeing an opportunity for a top result, Calbimonte got off the line well – too well in fact, and forced himself onto the grass on the right hand side of the track as he approached the first corner in far too fast a manner.
Unfortunately for Calbimonte, the grass was still very wet and where the T-Sport man was too fast beforehand to make the corner, now he was merely an out-off-control mess of carbon fibre just waiting to smash something. As the field made its way through the short chute between Riches and Montreal/Sears (turns one and two), the now sideways Calbimonte rejoined the track, taking Sainz (Jr.) and Pietro Fantin clear out in a bang and damaging the unsuspecting Tincknell and Pipo Derani.
Sainz was not best pleased. “Calbimonte tried to overtake the whole grid under braking! Fantin and me were battling, braking and then suddenly […] he banged Pietro in the side, and he [Pietro] went over me – he overtook the whole grid!” Thereafter Calbimonte kept his head low – for a time at least.

At Silverstone toward the end of the season, Calbimonte showed up with a radio crew in tow. Consisting of a commentator, a PA/note-taker and mixing engineer, they presented the Bolivian racer’s efforts from the pressroom in a most excitable and enthusiastic manner.
Words speared at a thousand miles per second and arms flailed manically, as the commentator’s buzz reached for the sky and pulled a thriller for the watching audience.

Only it wasn’t a thriller. It was one of the most boring races that I had ever seen and in what was already an overly warm pressroom, the trail of cars dutifully following each other around could have sent even the most hardened of enthusiasts to sleep.
Thankfully Lizzie Isherwood – then a press officer with Fortec – made it her gallant mission to prod me in the arm every few moments to make sure I stayed awake and alert. One can only suspect it much to keep herself entertained.

Once the race had finished, the commentary stopped and so too did British F3’s flirtation with in-house Spanish-language broadcasting.

{note 1}
I never seen a driver so scared to line-up on pole as I did Duvashen Padayachee at Oulton Park, when the rookie found himself in the top spot for Race Two, thanks to reversed grid rules. That season, the reversed grid was decided by the winner of Race One. The victor would on the podium pull a ball out of a hat to decide which finisher would start at the front.
Despite there only being fourteen full-season entrants to British F3 in 2012, the championship declared that the pole would be given to any driver that finished between 8th and 12th, as long as their Race One finishing position was pulled out of a bag. Having won the opener, Jack Harvey pulled the number “12” out of the bag, signifying 12th placed finisher Padayachee would start from pole for Race Two.
When the race started that afternoon, Padayachee got off the line and then pulled into the end of the pitlane and allowed the entire field through, before continuing on his way.

  1. Doing some catching up today. Some fantastic stories here, Leigh. Great to see you posting back here again. 🙂

    • Leigh O'Gorman permalink

      Thanks mate, been a while. Will start getting more stuff shortly, when the magazine copy is issued.


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