Rossiter Closes On F3 Championship Lead

James Rossiter has moved to within two points of the lead of the British Formula Three Championship -- despite an error from a rival driver that eliminated him from the second of yesterday's two races at the Croft circuit.

James was knocked off the track at the first corner when rival Will Power got out of shape on the inside line and dove into the Celerant/BRDC-backed driver's car. Had he finished the race, James would almost certainly yet again have been on the podium and leading the title race.

He had already finished second in the day's first race to slash the gap to championship leader Nelson Piquet Junior to just two points. His retirement, however, plus failure by Piquet to finish the second race meant the gap remained the same, although Danilo Dirani has moved into equal first position after winning twice.

James, in only his third season of car racing, finds himself chasing Piquet and Dirani for the lead of the British F3 championship as it now moves on to the tough Knockhill circuit in Scotland in a fortnight's time. That is a remarkable achievement for a driver in his first season of F3, particularly against much more experienced rivals all fighting to be noticed by Formula One. He is also the only British driver in the field to effectively be fighting for Britain's most important single-seater motor racing crown.

"It was like my Croft jinx struck again," said 20-year-old James. "Each year I've been here something has gone wrong that has prevented me from finishing one of the two races."

James qualified his Fortec Motorsport team's car third on the grid. It was his trademark lightning start that enabled him to achieve second position in the first race when he passed Adam Carroll through the first set of corners. Carroll attempted to block James but instead flew off the road when their cars touched. James continued in second, but he said: "It was a shame because that allowed Dirani to get away in front. The impact also affected my car's handling. Without that, I am sure I could have pushed Dirani hard for the lead."

At the start of the second race, James was again the fastest driver off the grid and appeared to have got ahead of Power as they entered the first bend. Instead, though, Power's car caught the inside kerb and crunched into the side of James's car while still in mid-air. James was sent into the gravel trap and out of the race.

James added: "I don't blame Power for what he did. He perhaps saw half a gap and went for it. It's just a shame he lost control of his car and took me out. It's frustrating because I should have been leading this championship, but at least Piquet didn't finish which has helped. That sort of evens things out.

"Yet again, I was faster than Piquet all weekend. We have an excellent car and we are getting stronger every time. Knockhill is next and it's a circuit I've always enjoyed racing on, particularly when it rains which happens often there. This championship is not over by a long way."

British Formula Three Championship Points (after five rounds):

1st, Nelson Piquet Jnr (BRA) & Danilo Dirani (BRA), 52 points; 3, JAMES ROSSITER (GBR), 50; 4, Will Davison (AUS), 40 etc.

-www.jamesrossiter.com