Double R Begins British F3 Season With Target Top Six For Ilyas
Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series team Double R Racing achieved its target of a top six finish during the opening weekend of the 2012 championship at Oulton Park in Cheshire today, Saturday, 7th April, thanks to a strong drive during race one from Malaysia’s Fahmi Ilyas.
Starting the first of the day’s three encounters from 10th on the grid, having only completed less than a third of the qualifying session on Friday, 6th April, due to an unfortunate excursion at Old Hall, the 20-year-old made a good getaway on a track damp from earlier rain and climbed into seventh place.
Maintaining the position throughout the 30-minute season opener at the wheel of his Mercedes powered Dallara F312, Ilyas profited from a retirement for Hannes van Asseldonk on the final lap to claim a coveted top six.
Forced to start race two from the pitlane due to a clutch hydraulic problem, Ilyas had a lot of work to do but made good progress through the order into the top 10. Unfortunately, the promise of more points evaporated when he went out on the final lap while dicing with the slower National Class car of Spike Goddard at Island Bend.
Determined to make amends in round three, the 40-minute ‘Feature Race’, Ilyas immediately moved up from 10th into ninth due to a stall for Pipo Derani which triggered the emergence of the Safety Car. Following the re-start on lap four, Ilyas had a fairly uneventful race and after moving into eighth on lap six he remained there to the flag.
“We’re happy with Fahmi’s performance”, said team principal Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt, “He managed to equal his career best of sixth on his first weekend with us and scored more points already than he did the whole of last season. We had a clutch hydraulic problem on his car before race two, so he had to start from the pitlane, but he bagged more points in race three and that was the aim.”
International Class team-mate Geoff Uhrhane, who was only confirmed as a Double R driver last weekend, faced a massive learning curve on his British F3 debut with the practice and qualifying sessions on Friday serving as his first true competitive running in his Dallara-Mercedes.
Following a monumental effort from Double R to, first, build Uhrhane’s brand new F312 chassis and, second, repair the car in time for qualifying following an unfortunate brush with the barriers at Druids during practice, the Australian rewarded the team with a pair of points-scoring finishes.
Repeating the Druids excursion on lap five in the damp opening encounter, the 20-year-old from Queensland bounced back in round two to fight his way through from 14th place at the start into a strong top 10 result – ninth in the International Class.
For round three, Uhrhane posted the second points finish of his maiden weekend in Formula 3 after climbing into the top 10 again from the sixth row of the grid. Benefiting from the stall for Derani at the start, the former Formula Ford race winner moved into 10th place on lap six when van Asseldonk crashed out at, ironically, Druids.
“We all knew, Geoff included, this would be a very tough weekend for him but he’s enjoyed it and we know there’s so much more to come”, said Hieatt, “He just needs more experience and as much time in the car as possible. He’ll make more progress at Monza next weekend and then we should be able to get out and make up for some of the testing he’s missed.”
Duvashen Padayachee finished second in the National Class in all three races but after concluding the opening round of the championship in 12th position overall, the Sydney 21-year-old couldn’t have expected what would happen next.
For the ‘reverse grid’ second race, the number 12 was drawn out of the bag meaning the top dozen finishers of round one would be inverted to form the round two grid. Greatly enjoying the moment, the Australian wasn’t able to make the start he wanted from pole position and had to give best to the International Class cars running into Old Hall for the first time.
Eventually finishing the race in 12th overall again, second in class, Padayachee steered his Dallara Mugen-Honda to the same finish once more in round three to importantly secure vital National Class points and gain as much race mileage as possible.
Hieatt added: “It’s all about getting mileage for Duvashen, he’s on a very steep learning curve but he closed the race pace to Spike [Goddard – National Class points leader] during the weekend so we’re happy with that. It’s onwards and upwards for all three guys at Monza!”
Double R Racing now travels from Oulton Park to Monza in Italy for the next three rounds of the 2012 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series, taking place next weekend, 14th/15th April.
2012 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series Driver Standings (after Rd3):
9th Fahmi Ilyas, 9pts; 12th Geoff Uhrhane, 3pts
2012 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series ‘National Class’ Standings (after Rd3):
2nd Duvashen Padayachee, 45pts