The Nuburgring played host to a thrilling day of Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series action today, with the results of the second race seeing Carlin's Jordan King become the 2013 British F3 Champion with one race remaining.
King took a dominant lights-to-flag victory in race one after title rival Will Buller suffered engine dramas on the grid. Newly crowned National Class champion Sun Zheng took class honours ahead of the two battling West-Tec entries.
It was Fortec driver Felipe Guimarães who won the exhilerating second race, the Brazilian made a perfectly-timed last corner move on Spike Goddard to seal his second British F3 win of the season, and Chris Vlok stepped up to take a maiden win in the National Class.
Race One - King dominates in first race, as Buller lucks out
A crisp, bright autumnal day welcomed Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series competitors this morning and the race delivered high drama before the lights had even gone out.
After Buller's Dallara was pushed into the pit lane, a second formation lap took place and the race length was cut to 27 minutes. On the restart King got a solid start and led fellow title rival Antonio Giovinazzi by over a second after the first lap. As the race progressed Giovinazzi struggled with oversteer caused by rubber pick up from the earlier GT session and finished a distant 10.3 seconds back.
Behind the leading pair it was Buller's team-mate Felipe Guimaraes who made the most of the unusual situation and the Brazilian jumped from sixth to third, a position he would hold until the flag, holding off a race-long challenge from Carlin's Jann Mardenborough who led home team-mate Nicholas Latifi.
Double R Racing's Tatiana Calderon pulled the move of the race with a stunning overtake around the outside of team-mate Sean Gelael in the first corner to take sixth, she then pulled out a three and a half second gap over the Indonesian who was struggling with oversteer and Former British F3 National Champion, Spike Goddard. Formula 3 debutant, Alfonso Celis in the third Fortec Dallara-Mercedes had a tough first race, but the Mexican should be encouraged by his best lap, a 1:51.933, far quicker than those around him.
Buller did make an appearance after three laps, and the Northern Irishman got close to taking the fastest lap of the race, only for King to pip him to the point awarded for the achievement by 0.05s. It was an unfortunate race for Buller, and he now needs some luck to overcome the 28 point deficit to the Carlin driver. Giovinazzi remains third in the points, albeit one point off Buller.
The 2013 National Class champion, Sun Zheng further showed his title victory was deserving with yet another accomplished performance in the Mugen Honda powered CF Racing Dallara. The Chinese driver finished almost a lap ahead of New Zealander Vlok, although some of this time was accumulated when the West-Tec driver spun on the last lap just before the NGK chicane.
Race two - Guimarães wins a thrilling second race, as King is crowned 2013 British F3 Champion
The second race of the day was a classic. Australian Spike Goddard started the reverse grid Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series race from pole-position and the Threebond with T-sport driver made the most of his front-row start, easing into turn one as fellow front row starter Double R Racing's Sean Gelael was overcome by the cars behind him.
Championship contenders Will Buller and Jordan King had their work cut out to make a mark in the second race of the day. Buller started thirteenth and last, King was eighth, and it was the Northern Irishman who made his way up the order quickest. The pair did fight for position briefly, exchanging places twice on the opening lap, but King sensibly let his eager rival through and set about following him through the traffic; it proved to be a wise decision by King.
Buller was wasting precious little time and once released from behind King over took first Giovinazzi, then Carlin duo Jann Mardenborough and Nicholas Latifi, placing the Fortec man fourth behind the in-form Tatian Calderon.
King made his way up the order, but as Championship leader was understandably more cautious in his approach to overtaking. After inheriting seventh on lap seven following a spin by Indonesian racer Sean Gelael (Double R Racing), King was soon up to sixth on lap ten when Mardenborough went off and broke his right front suspension.
It was just fellow Carlin racer, Latifi that separated King from Buller, but the young Englishman needn't have worried as Buller crashed out at the final corner on lap thirteen while chasing the impressive Calderon. The crash proved to be a frustrating end to a season that promised so much only six weeks ago for Buller, but the Fortec driver was strong in defeat and flashed a smile after the race saying he'd be going all out for a win tomorrow in the final race of the season.
The #2 Carlin of King whipped past the stricken Fortec Dallara and King knew he had the title won, but continued to close on Latifi and the nineteen year-old crossed the line fifth, taking his first major single-seater Championship title in Europe in the process.
Up front Goddard was putting in the drive of his life. The 2012 British F3 National Champion relished the opportunity to start from the front row, the second time in his British F3 career but first in the International class, and looked on course to take a stunning and highly popular victory. However Guimarães had other ideas and the Brazilian driver was closing at a rapid rate. Goddard held off a strong challenge three laps before the end, and Guimaraes set about a last lap rally. The move itself was clinical and precise, leaving Goddard with no opportunity to defend. The Australian driver crossed the line a dejected second, Guimarães was estatic. Finishing off the podium places was Calderon, and in doing so she became the first female British F3 racer to step onto an International Class podium.
Latifi finished fourth on scrub tyres, the Canadian teenager will be a force in the third race of the weekend when he has new rubber, King was fifth and Giovinazzi held onto sixth despite mounting pressure from team-mate Gelael who recovered to finish 1.4s behind the Italian. Giovinazzi now jumps up to second in the standings, four points clear of Buller. Nine seconds back from Gelael was Alfonso Celis in the #24 Fortec Motorsport Dallara, the Mexican continuing his education at a good rate, progressing with every session and recording a second points finish from two starts.
Team West-Tec's Chris Vlok got the jump on rival Sun Zheng at turn one, the pair almost collided but gave each other just enough room to see out a second lap. The CF Racing driver proved he is no pushover and worked Vlok hard throughout the sixteen lap race but the West-Tec driver held on for a maiden Formula 3 win.
Rounding out the National Class was William Barbosa who finished 27 seconds adrift of the newly crowned National Class Champion, Zheng.
The final race of the 2013 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series begins tomorrow morning at 07:30 BST / 08:30 CET and it promises to be a fascinating encounter as drivers have one last chance to make good their championship positions.
Felipe Guimarães, Fortec Motorsports Dallara - Mercedes (Race 2 - Winner): "It was a fantastic race. From the start I had a good car and I got up to fourth. I took Tatiana and then I saw Latifi and Spike (Goddard) fighting not far in front and said to myself, 'I've got to get those guys'. I saw Latifi was pushing hard and so I kept pushing, pushing really hard. My car was sideways a few times, and I got past Latifi with a couple of laps to go, then I could see Spike and I thought I'd get him on the last corner, and then that is what happened. I asked God to help me and he listened and helped me - a big thanks to the team for helping me achieve this."
Spike Goddard, Threebond with T-Sport Dallara - Nissan (Race 2 - Second): "I had a really good start and drove away, but he just kept catching up and catching up. I thought I had another lap left so I just kept on the racing line and he came past me. It was incredibly stressful being in front, but I enjoyed it and I'd like to do it again but with a different result. The Threebond engine was fantastic today and I'd like to thank the guys at T-sport for all their help."
Tatiana Calderon, Double R Racing Dallara Mercedes (Race 2 - Third): "It was great from start to finish. When you get a chance to start from the front it makes things a lot easier. It's just a case of putting everything together in qualifying and then I think we had a good race pace and stayed consistent. I had some good first laps and I'm really happy with this result. I've worked really hard to be here and to get on the podium is just… I can't describe how happy I am right now."
Chris Vlok, Team West-Tec Dallara - Toyota (Race 2 - National Class Winner): "My start was pretty good, I got into the lead after the first corner. We weren't the quickest car on the grid, but we managed to hold onto it and it was really good to dice with Sun for as long as we did. First win, I'm happy with that. It's been a long time coming!"
Jordan King, Carlin Dallara - Volkswagen (British F3 2013 Champion): "There were loads of gaps in the opening lap, but I thought I'd be sensible and back out. If I finished the race and Will had taken six points off me I'd still have been in the lead come tomorrow and I would've just sat behind him. I saw a puff of smoke and saw his sponsor logo on the car in the gravel and thought, 'that'll do for me'. When you're in karting you look at British F3 and see the likes of Algesuari and Vergne in British F3 and it seems unimaginable to be there in that position, but I did it and I'm chuffed for the team as it is the sixth in a row and ninth of all time."