Steve Kempton earned himself a place in the motor racing history books when he became the first Briton to win the prestigious FIA European Formula Three Cup at Silverstone.
Heading a massive entry, Kempton and his Reynard 873 Alfa Romeo snatched pole position, sharing the front row with fellow Briton Perry McCarthy and his Alfa-powered Reynard. Formula Three is an intense arena at the best of times, but the battle reached epic proportions with drivers able to choose between three types of tyres.
In the past it has always been the Michelin runners who have come up with the goods, but on this occasion, Avon had produced an ultra-sticky compound. Both McCarthy and Kempton had opted for Avons, along with four other drivers, 19 had gone for Michelins while three had gone for Bridgestones.
Behind the two leading Britons sat Italian Alberto Apicella and German F3 Champion Bernd Schneider, while British Champion Johnny Herbert and his Reynard-VW took fifth ahead of Swede Thomas Danielsson.
The race, over 22 laps of the Northamptonshire Grand Prix circuit, saw Kempton get off to a blistering start followed by Apicella, Schneider and Herbert, Eugenio Visco had got off to a better start with his Reynard, but jumped the lights and was slapped down with a one-minute penalty. He later collided with McCarthy and retired.
Kempton led throughout the race, but came under strong pressure from first Apicella and then Herbert. The British Champion attempted to overtake at Copse, but was forced onto the grass and had to retire four laps later with a blown engine due to mud in his Reynard’s sidepod.
This allowed Apicella to close again along with Schneider, but behind them Philippe Favre and his R&D Reynard-Alfa Romeo were mounting a staggering charge up the field. He closed on Schneider, who had snatched second-place from Apicella on the penultimate lap, but the German driver ran into him and despite setting a new lap record, Favre had to settle for 19th place.
This gave Kempton the chance to pull away again and take the spoils, followed by Apicella and Bertrand Gachot, who had an untroubled run to third. TW