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Witnessing a fine success of Johnny jr. together with Johnny Cecotto...

Weekend October 10-12th 2008 at Oschersleben, Germany
The last races in the Formula 3 were at the circuit of Oschersleben in Germany and I would visit them with Carolien. Johnny Cecotto himself would come also with Jonathan. I obtained a press card through Karola Waterstraat of the ADAC and I thank her for that. Johnny Cecotto jr. could become 2nd in the championship and we hoped the best. On Friday we left home to get to Germany and although it was busy on the way we arrived there some 6 hours later at the circuit. First I had to collect the press- and parking tickets at the welcome centre. We parked the car but had to buy an entry card for Carolien. We went to the media centre and I provided a photographer vest. I met Karola Waterstraat there and she was so kind to exchange the weekend card of Carolien for a press card. Then we went to HS Technik Motorsport but didn't see either Johnny jr. or Cristina. We decided to look at some practices at the standings. We walked back afterwards and went to the pit where Cristina was standing at the box of HS Technik. We said hello to each other and had a talk with her. Johnny jr. wasn't here because he had a drivers meeting. Some time later fellow-member Saavedra came into the pit, sign that drivers meeting was over and so Johnny jr. would be there in short time now. Now Johnny jr. came in and invited us to the hospitality tent to sit and drink something. We got to hear that Johnny Cecotto indeed would come this weekend. After a nice cup of coffee and some talking it was time for Johnny jr. to get to the pit because first qualifying would begin shortly. We walked along there to wait for the start to be given. A number of important drivers were not present such as champion Vervisch and Chinosi, who participated also still for 2nd place in the championship. Shirley van der Lof, the female team-mate of Johnny jr. was there with her friend Jelmer Buurman who is also racing driver. As the HS Technik drivers prepared I shot some photographs. Qualifying already was running for a while before Shirley van der Lof got out of the pit 1st followed by Saavedra and Johnny jr. afterwards. We looked at the practice from the pit wall and after a few laps Johnny jr. got 2nd place. Saavedra came in and did some changes to his car. Also Johnny jr. came in now as Saavedra went out again. Johnny jr. stepped out though after the mechanics had inspected the car. Then practice was over and Vanthoorn was fastest in front of Saavedra and Cecotto. The exhaust from the car of Johnny jr. was damaged which resulted of a prematurely ending of his practice. As the media centre would be closed shortly from now I had to get there to pick up my gear. Johnny jr. meanwhile was in the truck and for this reason we said good bye to Cristina and would see each other tomorrow. We got to Magdeburg to eat and check in at the hotel. On Saturday we left to the circuit early and at 09.20 hours we were on the parking lot and went to the media centre first to store my material. Then we went to HS Technik where Johnny jr., Cristina and Jonathan sat at the table. Jonathan didn't remember me since it was already 2 years ago we had seen each other. He asked if I had a photograph of Johnny jr. for him. I would give them later because they were in the media centre. Johnny Cecotto wasn't here at the moment. We sat together at the table and talked a bit with Jonathan in English which went considerable good although he sometimes asked help to his brother in Italian. When I asked him if he wanted to become as good as his brother he he hoped so. Johnny jr. had to go to prepare and we got to the pit to watch practice of the Formula Master series. Whereas all the drivers of HS Technik were present in their equipment we saw Johnny and Jonathan sitting on the platform of the other side. Jonathan was waving all the time but Johnny jr. didn't see it. I pointed out to him and he laughed and waved back. Also Johnny saw me now and waved to us from the platform. The qualification would start shortly now. Like yesterday van der Lof was away first and Cecotto and Saavedra stayed in the pit for considerable time. When they got on the track I went to stand at the pit wall to take some photographs there. It seemed to me it was busy on the track and the possibility of going fast was difficult. Meanwhile Johnny and Jonathan went away to take a look at the back of the circuit. I walked up further into the pit to get another position for my pictures. Johnny jr. came by 3 times but then I missed him and it appeared he was standing in the pit. I walked back to the position of HS Technik and everyone nervously looked at the last minute of qualifying. Johnny jr. seemed to be at pole-position. Nobody could get beneath the time of Johnny jr. and he had first spot for the race on Sunday. And more important, 1 point extra for the championship. I congratulated him and he was clearly very satisfied. We went to the back of the pit box to where now Johnny jr. and Cristina stood talking to Johnny and Jonathan. With an embracement I said hello to Johnny and it was good to see him again because it almost was a year ago. He told me that he had the X-lite Cecotto replica helmet with him as present for Carolien. I had taken a miniature helmet of Johnny' s RB Formula helmet in scale of 1:3 for Jonathan. I first had to collect my stuff in the media centre. A few minutes later we all sat together in the hospitality of HS Technik and all photographs, posters etc. were signed by Johnny and Johnny jr. There was a video-shoot on the starting grid of all Formula 3 drivers which I visited to take some pictures. Back I saw Jonathan sitting enjoying a plate of spaghetti which the Italian cook of the team had prepared for him. Carolien and I went to the media centre to eat and drink a bit and to work on the site. After an hour and a half we got to the pit to watch the Formula Master race. Meanwhile Johnny jr. arrived in the box of HS Technik. Johnny jr. had gotten into his car and I talked a bit with Cristina. Then the cars drove out of the pit to the grid and I walked to go there. Carolien would look at the race from the pit as I would go on to the track to make pictures of the race. As I was standing on the grid I heard the speaker tell the well-known story concerning the "Cecotto drivers" and he also announced Johnny Cecotto himself was present here to watch his son. Everyone stood at his place and I made a lot of photographs of the most known drivers which stood in front of course. The sun was shining bright and it was considerably warm. Some drivers were protected with an umbrella among them also Cecotto. At the second signal I wished Johnny jr. success and walked back to the end of the pit. As the warm-up lap was done I hurried to the extended place of the pit to be able to make some photographs of the first passage after the start. The cars stood ready and the engines started roaring at the switch of the red lights. The sound of shrieking tires was heard and Johnny jr. didn't start very well and dropped back at the first corner to 5th position. I ran further along the track to make pictures. After the 1st lap Cecotto already was lying in 4th spot and he was just behind Eng. Every time I got further on the track and shot as much photographs as I could from this unique view. The perspective you have as photographer along the track is particular. The cars descend to get towards you and to "drive into your camera" because you are on the same altitude as the track. Some time later Johnny jr. also did catch Eng and drove in 3rd spot. Vanthoor was in front of Saavedra followed by Cecotto and that seemed to remain this way and so I walked back to the pit for the victory ceremony. I arrived in time at the HS Technik team to witness the finish and there was a lot of screaming and rejoicings. Saavedra appeared to have won in front of Cecotto because Vanthoor had crashed into a spun car. Nevertheless Johnny jr. was disappointed because of problems with the clutch at the start and for the fact Saavedra now had 2nd spot in the championship. We did look at victory ceremony where a lot of champagne went into the air. Also Johnny Cecotto himself was fed up a bit because of the clutch problems again. I would see him later but for as I was longer in the media centre as expected he was away to talk with some people. I talked to Johnny jr. a bit and then said farewell to him and Cristina for today. I went to Magdeburg with Carolien to shop a bit and to eat. Tomorrow the decision of the 2nd place in the championship was there. On Sunday the Formula 3 race would start at 12.15 hours. We arrived at the circuit at 10.00 o'clock but at that time nobody of the Cecotto' s was present. We looked at the Superkarts from the pit and I have to say they go terribly hard. Then it was the turn for the Formula Master for their 2nd race of the weekend. In the meantime Johnny jr. had arrived with Cristina in the pit. I did not see Johnny and Jonathan however. The preparations for the race had started and the camera crew of the Formula 3 was always in the neighbourhood of Johnny jr. Now the Formula Master race was done and the victory ceremony was held. In the meantime Johnny Cecotto was also there and was talking a bit with his son. Also the camera crew had found him and he was interviewed by them. Johnny jr. got in his car just like his fellow-member and the antagonist for 2nd place Saavedra. Cecotto jr. was 2 points behind and the best was simply to win. In spite of the mutual fight they had wished each other success. The tension did raise for me also because of course I hoped Johnny jr. would finish 2nd in the championship. Cecotto wished success to Johnny jr. and walked away and got from the pit box up to the platform. Jonathan I hadn't no longer seen. I spoke shortly to Cristina until the signal was given for the cars to get to the start. Whereas the drivers drove out of the pit I walked up to the pole-position to wait for the arrival of Johnny Cecotto jr. He was just arriving a little later as I saw Johnny Cecotto himself standing on the platform to look at the start. I made pictures of the starting grid and particularly of Cecotto, Saavedra and Vanthoor. With a "thumbs-up" I wished Johnny jr. success and ran to the spot where for photographers is the best view on the first turn after the start. With 10 other photographers I waited for the start. It was extremely quiet there until the engines started howling. Everyone looked in a kind of " now it's going to happen". The signal the cars were coming and the photo cameras were placed in front of the eyes, ready to shoot. I immediately saw Johnny jr. had lost his first spot to Vanthoor. I changed positions during the race in which Cecotto closed on Vanthoor all the time until the back markers. Johnny jr. was considerably stopped by Iannaccone and lost area on Vanthoor and Saavedra came close to him again. In the remainder of the race Johnny jr. returned flat behind Vanthoor and I hurried back to the pit. I was there in time to see the finish in the order Vanthoor 1st for Cecotto and Saavedra. Johnny jr. and Saavedra both had as many points. I looked on the screen at the result but I couldn’t see who had the fastest lap. I asked the mechanic of Cecotto and he said it was Vanthoor. Johnny jr. came 0.063 seconds short for the fastest lap and so 1 point which would have provided him 2nd place in the championship. The first place of Saavedra yesterday gave 1 victory more to him and with that he was vice-champion. Johnny jr. was still in the car and asked Cristina the result of the fastest lap. You could clearly see the disappointment on his face he did not succeed. Very understandable but on the other side he could be proud because he had a season behind him which was a very good one. Johnny Cecotto had also got into the pit but after the victory ceremony they all disappeared and so I went to search him. " Hey John" it was called and Jonathan stood beside me. We went to the HS Technik team but nobody was seen. Carolien made a photograph of me with Jonathan, a nice and funny boy indeed. He also didn't know where his brother and father were so we got to the media centre to consume something. Afterwards we got to the standings to look at the Touring Cars Endurance race. When we returned some time later to HS Technik Johnny Cecotto was there to eat and drink and we could sit there with him. We had a talk concerning several subjects such as sponsoring, offers for Johnny jr. and activities of Johnny himself. Hereafter Johnny firstly had to pick up Isabella and then would drive homewards. We walked along with him to the camper to pick up the helmet which Johnny had brought with him for Carolien. We would see Johnny a bit later but because we first had to get our stuff from the media centre and then to put them into the car we missed him at his departure. He is still a very fast guy. We said good bye to Johnny jr. and Cristina and left at 15.15 hours to go home. After 10 minutes driving I was stopped by 2 German cops who had apprehended them with a laser gun in a bus box and got a ticket for driving too rapidly. A nice beginning of our way back in which we also had a number of traffic-jams. We came home at 22.00 hours. In spite of Johnny jr. didn't succeed to be 2nd in the championship we still had a satisfied feeling. Hopefully we can admire Johnny Cecotto jr. on the circuits somewhere in the future.....

ATS Formula 3 Oschersleben 2008

Johnny Cecotto jr.
Johnny Cecotto & Johnny jr.
Johnny Cecotto jr.