At Snetterton this afternoon, a somewhat processional Formula 3 race was won by Adriano Buzaid (Carlin), the Brazilian followed home by this season's champion Jean-Eric Vergne (Carlin), while James Calado was 3rd to complete a Carlin lockout of the podium. Victory in the National Class was claimed in a decisive drive from Menasheh Idafar (T-Sport), even though the Bahraini was sent to back of grid for blocking in the first race of the weekend. He beat James Cole (T-Sport) and Juan Carlos Sistos (Team West-Tec) to the top step of the podium with apparent ease.
At the start Buzaid didn't get away as well as he might have done, but it was still enough for him to hold the lead from Vergne. Behind the pair of the Calado was already up in 3rd, despite the best efforts of Felipe Nasr (R?ikk?nen Robertson Racing). The Brazilian lost momentum which meant team-mate Daisuke Nakajima snatched the place from him, dumping Nasr to 5th. At the end of the first lap the order was already settled and there were still 37 laps to go. With the track completely dry it was beginning to look as if this would be a very dull affair. At least there was Idafar's meteoric rise up the order to entertain, the National Class runner up to 16th at the end of the first lap, leaving Sistos and Cole trailing in his wake. His progress was now halted by Adderley Fong (Sino Vision Racing), the Chinese driver carrying some damage that would lead him to pit for a new nose. It seemed to have been sustained it what may well have been a jump start, which caused the more cynical to wonder how he could possibly have been going that fast...
At the front Buzaid didn't seem able to open a gap over Vergne, though Vergne seemed just as unable to catch his team mate. Nasr was taking the odd look at Nakajima for 4th but again he couldn't seem to edge that last little bit closer and nothing much was happening; at least it wasn't until Calado's chief rival for 2nd in the championship, Oli Webb (Fortec Motorsport) had a major off at Riches. He did it all on his own and it seemed possible that there was either a suspension failure or a puncture, at least according to a couple of photographers who were on the spot when it happened.
With Idafar now up to 14th overall, Alex Brundle (T-Sport) was in trouble as usual too, the youngster dropping down to 15th. Meanwhile Fong's team manager was being called to race control, which was shortly followed by the announcement of a drive through for Fong for speeding in the pit-lane. At least he was having an eventful afternoon, which was more than you could say for the rest of them. Even Cole, who had managed to get ahead of Sistos, was now going nowhere very fast.
Buzaid was still happily in the lead at half distance, with Vergne 2nd and Calado 3rd. Nakajima was still 4th from Nasr, while Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) separated Carlos Huertas (R?ikk?nen Robertson Racing) from his team-mates, while Gabriel Dias (Hitech Racing), William Buller (Hitech Racing) and Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Carlin) rounded out the top 10. Further back a frustrated looking Cole was now bottled up behind Brundle and Jay Bridger (Litespeed F3) and could only seethe as Idafar vanished into the distance ahead and he could do nothing about it. The only potential battle seemed to be for 10th with Svendsen-Cook having to keep a watching brief on Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing with Manor Motorsport) and Daniel McKenzie (Fortec Motorsport) who were both very close to the local lad and would have loved an opportunity to go through but weren't about to be offered one. They also had Idafar with them but he was presumably being cautious and wasn't about to jeopardise his potential class win with a needless nod for glory. In fact he didn't even resist when Lucas Foresti (Carlin) came through. He still had a cushion between himself and Cole and that was all he needed.
The cushion got smaller when Brundle pitted and the T-Sport team swarmed over the car, eventually making some adjustments to the rear wing and changing the tyres before sending him back out 2 laps down. Apart from that the only change before the chequered flag was when Fong flung himself off into the weeds before limping back on again dead last.
At the front Vergne would gain some ground but Buzaid would hold on and edge back out again. The lead was not going to change it seemed. Meanwhile McKenzie tried to get the drop on Lloyd at Riches but had to think better of it as he also had Foresti to think about, the Brazilian now breathing down his neck. Even in the closing stages the order remained tediously static, despite Calado reeling in Vergne during the final laps. It was too little too late and nothing could stop Buzaid from claiming victory any more than anything could dislodge Vergne from 2nd. Calado was close for 3rd, but not close enough. 4th was Nakajima, holding off Nasr all the way home, while Jaafar was 6th from Huertas, Dias, Buller and Svendsen-Cook. 11th was Lloyd, then came McKenzie, Foresti, Idafar, Max Snegirev (Fortec Motorsport), with Bridger, Cole and Sistos a lap down. Brundle was a miserable 19th 2 laps down and Fong was even further back.
Fastest laps went to Buzaid (who also set a new lap record) and Idafar.
Next Rounds: Rounds 28-30, Brands Hatch, Kent, September 25th/26th
See also: Dias wins tyre lottery at Snetterton