Marco Bonanomi took an excellent fourth place in the second leg of the inaugural Sardinia F3 Masters in Cagliari, which also earned the young Italian a similar position in the final event standings.

The Coloni Motorsport driver looked to be in good shape in the morning warm up, and set the third best time in wet conditions, proving one more time that the rare Lola-Dome chassis would be competitive around the tricky street circuit.

Come the race, and Bonanomi immediately appeared to have gained a place from fifth on the grid, passing a tardy Ernesto Viso to lie fourth on the road, until the young Venezuelan regained the place. After that, fifth place appeared to be the best he could hope for as he fended off an eager Gregory Franchi, but later inherited fourth spot when Viso, by now into third place, retired with fuel pump problems.

"I made a good start and, although, I did pass Viso, I kept my fifth place," Bonanomi reported, "During the first few laps, I closely followed the leaders, but I thought it better to hold my position so that I did not lose the opportunity to get experience and data from the street circuit.

"It was a demanding race, and Franchi was always close behind me, but I was able to control him and to pass Viso. I'm happy with my result, especially as this was my first race on a street circuit."

"I'm very happy with this result and with the performances of the car, given that this was the first time for our drivers and our car on a street circuit, not forgetting that we lacked of experience with Avon tyres," patron Enzo Coloni added.

Rookie team-mate Michele Ruggolo, who made his F3 debut in Cagliari, finished ninth on the road, after a penalty pit-stop prevented him from mixing it with the leading group.

"I'm sorry for the stop-and-go, but this was my first race in F3 and I'm satisfied," Ruggolo said afterwards, "Considering my times - I set the fourth fastest lap - my performances was at the same level as the leaders."

An unlucky week end for Italian F3 series runner-up Christian Montanari ended after only two laps of the second leg, the result of contact with a wall that damaged his Lola.

"On the second lap, I collided with a wall, damaged my car and the race finished there," the F3000 debutant sighed, "It was a pity, because yesterday the car was going really well and we could have got a good result in race two."

Despite the mixed results, team boss Paolo Coloni admitted that the weekend outing had provided him with much to think about.

"It was a very useful experience, both for technicians and drivers, who had to challenge the winner of Norisring Euroseries race, the vice-champion of Japanese F3 and other talented drivers," he said, "I think that the experience we gathered in Cagliari will allow us to better plan our future and to make the best choice for the driver line-up in 2004."

 

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