SECOND F3 PODIUM OF SEASON FOR MANOR MOTORSPORT ACE MERHI
Dinnington-based Formula 3 Euroseries squad Manor Motorsport celebrated a double points finish for exciting young driver Roberto Merhi at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Germany over the weekend, 30th/31st May, during the third and fourth rounds of the 2009 season.
Backing up his stunning debut performance at Hockenheim a fortnight ago, the 18-year-old championship rookie was in great form once again this weekend and after securing a superb sixth place finish on Saturday, from 14th on the grid, Merhi went on to finish runner-up in this morning's encounter to leap into second position in the driver standings.
Underlining his potential as a genuine star in the making, the Spaniard is now just two points shy of experienced championship leader Jules Bianchi as the series heads into a four-week break in action. His efforts also mean Manor Motorsport is fourth in the team standings.
Scything his way through the order in round three with one of the highlight performances of the race, Merhi started further down the order than expected due to a rain-affected qualifying session. Looking all set for a top four grid slot, the Manor ace slipped down the timesheets to 14th as the track dried but before he had chance to post another lap the rain fell again.
Merhi put his full range of skills on display over the course of the weekend as he soaked up unbelievably intense pressure from British driver Sam Bird throughout round four, keeping the former Manor racer at bay with some quality racecraft.
Commenting on Merhi's performance, Manor team principal John Booth said: "From where he qualified on Saturday, Roberto was absolutely electric during the first race. It was especially pleasing for us as we managed to match Mucke Motorsport in their own back-yard. It's been a fantastic start to the season for Roberto, he's a superb driver and a pleasure to work with."
Cesar Ramos was the best of Manor's three drivers during qualifying on Saturday morning with an excellent, career-best, fifth fastest time of 1m32.336 seconds (135.600 km/h) as he benefited from being in the right place at the right time during the rain-hit session. Fellow South American Pedro Enrique was 21st on the grid for race one with a lap of 1m34.215 seconds (132.896 km/h).
In round three, Ramos ended up a disappointing 17th after stalling at the beginning while Enrique was just a second behind his team-mate in 18th place. In round four, Ramos faced more misfortune with a lap two retirement while Enrique served up a solid run to 16th place, having started 18th on the grid.
Highlights of the third and fourth rounds of the 2009 Formula 3 Euroseries will be screened in the UK over the coming week on Sky Sports -- please check listings for broadcast times.
Rounds five and six of the championship will take place four weeks from now at the Norisring in Germany over the weekend 27th/28th June. Before then, the stand-alone blue riband Masters of Formula 3 event will be held at Zandvoort in the Netherlands on 13th/14th June.