Motor Racing: Brazilian making inroads: Derick Allsop on a charge towards the top by Formula Three leader, Gil de Ferran

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The Independent Online
ONE Brazilian may be about to surrender his crown, but another shows every indication of securing his this season. While Ayrton Senna has been losing his hold on the Formula One world title, Gil de Ferran has been marching purposefully towards the British Formula Three Championship.

De Ferran intends to take a further step in this afternoon's race at the Silverstone grand prix meeting, which also serves as an opportunity to make inroads into the long-term future.

He has finished all 10 rounds so far in his Paul Stewart Racing Reynard-Mugen Honda, and only an altercation with another car denied him a 10th place on the podium last time out. Fifth position at Snetterton, however, took him to 70 points, 30 ahead of his closest challenger, Belgium's Philippe Adams.

De Ferran, 24, follows a long line of Brazilians who have plundered this land in search of success. Senna is a former British Formula Three champion and last year the title was won by his countryman, Rubens Barrichello.

'This is a massively important championship,' de Ferran said. 'It is very much an international championship. If you want to prove yourself against the best young drivers in the world you have to come here. This is where the strength lies. If you can't do it here then forget it because you are only fooling yourself.

'The Italian Formula Three championship is very strong but, being Italy, you can never be sure about it. Let's say it is apolitical here. If you get a good deal for a car and engine it is down to you and the team.

'I feel it is my year. I don't talk about my weaknesses because that could help my opponents, but I used to have a weakness in changing conditions. I have since learned to be more adaptable. Experience is two things: one, time; two, the effort you put in. I try to put in the effort all the time. Deep down, I hope that will eventually lead me to Formula One.'

Britain's best-placed driver is Kelvin Burt, fourth on 26 points, in a Fortec Motorsport Reynard- Mugen Honda.

The British Touring Car championship, not so much a sporting contest as a television soap these days, presents another episode after tomorrow's grand prix. Vauxhall's John Cleland leads from defending champion Will Hoy, now driving a Toyota. They are followed by Andy Rouse and Jeff Allam.