MACAU DISAPPOINTMENT FOR MANOR AS BIRD'S WINGS ARE CLIPPED
Dinnington based Formula 3 team Manor Motorsport saw its bid for glory in the 55th staging of the Windsor Arch Macau F3 Grand Prix unfortunately come unstuck today, Sunday, 16th November, when lead driver Sam Bird was eliminated on the opening lap at Guia Street Circuit.
As the quickest of Manor's three participants during qualifying on Friday, the Surrey based racer produced the second fastest time -- missing out on pole position during the final seconds of the session. However, a three place grid penalty was subsequently handed to Bird after he missed a weigh-bridge check during morning practice.
Nonetheless, he went into Saturday's qualification race fifth on the grid and ended the outing in the same position to progress to today's 55th Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix itself with a great chance of battling for a podium result.
Bird's participation in today's race lasted only as far as the run to Mandarin Bend though when Roberto Streit collided with him, resulting in a double retirement. Streit was fined for causing the accident but that was scant consolation to Bird and Manor who truly had the pace to fight for a rostrum finish at the very least.
Yorkshire's Jon Lancaster, making his competitive Manor Motorsport debut, ended his first ever appearance at Macau with a highly creditable 11th place finish in the main Grand Prix race, just nine 10ths of a second shy of the top 10 having started in 13th position.
Lining up an un characteristic 23rd on the grid for the qualification race after not being able to get the clear lap he wanted, he drove brilliantly to achieve a 13th place result. Into the main race, Lancaster proved he had the pace to finish comfortably inside the top 10 and just ended up missing out, finishing right on the tail of 2008 British F3 Champion Jaime Alguersuari.
For Japan's Kazuya Oshima, a series of very unfortunate problems blighted his chances and the Toyota Driver Programme member concluded the Grand Prix in 16th position.
Having been forced to retire from Saturday's qualification race with a broken gearbox and thus forced to start today's headline encounter from 23rd on the grid, contact at the first corner saw the Manor racer pick-up damage to his front wing which compromised his pace.
"We're very disappointed with how the race turned out for Sam, we had the pace to be on the podium for sure and probably fight for the win too but the contact from Roberto (Streit) ruined that", commented Manor team owner John Booth.
"Jon had a decent run on his first time at Macau, he missed a lot of track time during a couple of the sessions during the build-up so to finish just outside the top 10 wasn't bad at all and he can take a lot of positives from that.
"Kazuya had to start down in 23rd for today's race after a broken gearbox ruled him out of Saturday's qualification race. Then he got a broken wing at the first corner bottle-neck today so that made things very difficult for him. It's been a disappointing visit to Macau for us in the end but as Sam proved in qualifying, we had a very quick car and the potential to do very well."