TANDY & ERICSSON ROCK TO THE TOP IN BRITISH F3
The Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series welcomed two new race winners this afternoon (Sun) at Rockingham, Nick Tandy claiming an emotional maiden victory in the day's first race and Marcus Ericsson finally making it to the top step in race two. It was a day to forget for championship leader Daniel Ricciardo - he exited race one on the opening lap and could salvage only fifth place from race two.
Nick Tandy's win, coming a matter of days after the death of his elder brother and JTR team chief Joe, left barely a dry eye in the house. Mygale pilot Tandy, the first British winner in the championship so far this season, also brought to an end a 16-race victory streak for the Dallara chassis.
An even bigger boost for Tandy was that the runaway championship leader Ricciardo failed to score a single point. After starting from the pole, the Carlin Motorsport man collided with Renger van der Zande's fast-starting Hitech car at the Deene hairpin on the opening lap as Dan tried to regain the lead. Ricciardo's Dallara was too badly damaged to continue while van der Zande was forced to the pits for repairs to his rear wing.
"I couldn't believe my luck when I saw van der Zande and Ricciardo," said Nick, who drove around the carnage, and Marcus Ericsson, to take the lead. "I didn't make a particularly good start, so to see Daniel riding over the back of Renger... my God, did I smile. So far as the championship is concerned it just doesn't get any better than this. To score 20 championship points when our main title rival scores zero, it's fantastic."
Tandy pulled clear of his closest pursuer, Swedish returnee Ericsson, by nearly a second-and-half on the opening lap and proceeded to build his advantage with every lap, taking the flag 8.6s clear. There was drama right on the line as Nick braked and swerved by his pit crew to acknowledge their cheers - he braked so hard it broke his suspension and a front wheel fell off, preventing him from completing a victory lap.
Ericsson had no hope of catching Tandy, he said: "I made a good start but I was delayed when Daniel and Renger had their accident, and Nick went past. From then on Nick had much better pace that we couldn't really match." It was a good championship return nonetheless for Marcus, and an excellent debut for him with the Raikkonen Robertson team.
Daisuke Nakajima moved into third at the start and held on for the final podium slot despite strong pressure throughout from his Raikkonen Robertson team-mate Carlos Huertas. It was the Japanese driver's maiden British F3 podium. Huertas's fourth place was his best result of the season also. Max Chilton came home fifth, the leading Volkswagen runner, with Riki Christodoulou's Fortec car completing the top six.
National Class honours went for the third time this season to Fortec's Daniel McKenzie; Brazilian T-Sport driver Gabriel Dias led the class for much of the race but collected a penalty for overtaking under the yellow warning flags. He recovered from his drive-through penalty to take second in class.
In the day's second race, Ericsson broke his duck finally after four second-place finishes last season and a further runner-up spot earlier today. The 18-year-old, guesting with the Raikkonen Robertson team during a break in his Japanese F3 schedule, always had the pace to win but the pole-sitter was beaten to the front in the first hairpin by Christodoulou, who went on to lead for 12 of the 22 laps until he was penalised for being out of position on the startline.
"I had some problems with the clutch slipping at the start," said Marcus, "but I got away OK. Then Riki was very brave into the first corner and took the lead. I had the pace to attack him in the race but when I saw the penalty sign I was able to settle down and relax.
"Last year was very tough: we were so close so many times, it was frustrating. But I got my first F3 win in Japan earlier this year and it was good for my confidence, such a relief. Now I am driving with confidence, and it shows. This weekend has been a dream."
The first lap of the race was hugely messy, with several separate incidents leading to four retirements and a dire race for round five victor Tandy and his JTR Mygale. Nick's car was shoved by another into the Dallara of van der Zande; the Dutch driver was out on the spot while Nick limped to the pits for repairs. He made it back on track and though he finished down in 14th he was able at least to score the point for fastest lap.
Out of the chaos of the opening lap emerged Henry Arundel in third place behind Christo and Ericsson, with Adriano Buzaid close behind and Nakajima just ahead of Ricciardo. Christodoulou's exit from the race - he was first ordered to the pits for a drive-through penalty and then black-flagged after the punishment was taken late - bumped everybody following him up one place.
Thus Arundel finished an excellent second in his Volkswagen-powered Carlin Dallara and made his maiden visit to the British F3 podium. "It's been a long time coming," said Henry. "I've always known that I had the potential. It's been a tough start to the year, so this is exactly what I need and we can move forward from here."
Buzaid was pleased also for his T-Sport team with third spot - his second podium of the year - and Nakajima consolidated his improving championship pace with fourth. Ricciardo, his first-race mishaps forgotten, enjoyed an uneventful run to fifth ahead of Walter Grubmuller and Victor Garcia, the Spanish racer seventh for his best finish of the season.
Gabriel Dias was a first-lap casualty, as was Victor Correa, which left Daniel McKenzie with a clear run at National Class honours. "It was absolutely manic on the first lap, the worst I have seen," said Dan. "The main thing was to keep your nose clean, which I managed to do by taking to the grass. Gabriel didn't and it's cost him. I had a good race, we've improved the car a lot and I'm looking forward to Hockenheim next weekend." Team West-Tec's Max Snegirev took class second.
Tribute to Joe Tandy
The Rockingham pit lane fell silent today as the cast and crew of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series, the MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain and associated series observed a one-minute tribute to Joe Tandy, the JTR team chief who was killed in a road accident two weeks ago.
More than 100 people surrounded the JTR pit garages to show their support and respect for the Tandy family, Joe's friends and JTR team members.
Joe's family said: "Joe, Marilyn and Nick would like to thank everyone for the overwhelming kindness and support we have received. It is comforting to know that Joe was so highly thought of."