RICCIARDO ROCKS TO A DOUBLE VICTORY AT OULTON PARK Australia's Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a superb start to his Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series career at Oulton Park today (Mon), leading the championship's opening round from ...
RICCIARDO ROCKS TO A DOUBLE VICTORY AT OULTON PARK
Australia's Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a superb start to his Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series career at Oulton Park today (Mon), leading the championship's opening round from start to finish at the wheel of his Carlin Motorsport-prepared Dallara, and then repeating the feat in round two. Ricciardo's twin wins were also a magnificent return to the series after a 20-plus year absence for engine supplier Volkswagen.
Ricciardo's job in the first of the day's races was made all the easier by a startline gaffe from his Carlin team-mate Max Chilton, who threw away his pole position advantage by jumping the gun at the lights. So obvious was Chilton's error that race stewards were quick to hand the young Brit a one-minute penalty.
Nick Tandy and his JTR Mygale-Mercedes pressured Ricciardo all the way to the chequered flag to claim second, with Austria's Walter Grubmuller taking third for the Hitech team to collect his maiden podium finish in what has been a long British F3 career. Fortec's Daniel McKenzie took the National Class honours.
Chilton's startline gaffe left Ricciardo in no doubt that, though he was running second on the road, he was effectively the leader. "I made a good start but I noticed that Max misjudged the lights and jumped the start, so I knew he'd get a penalty," said Daniel. "So then I had to race my own race and not worry about him in front... Nick's pace was really good and mid-race it was really hard to keep him behind me. It's a great start, to win in my first race here is incredible."
Tandy made "the worst start of my F3 career" to slip behind Daisuke Nakajima's RR-prepared Dallara on the opening lap. He recovered to find a way past on lap two, however, and quickly set about reeling Ricciardo in, narrowing the gap to less than half a second at one point and shattering the circuit lap record as he went.
"I expected Max to get a penalty," said Tandy, "and that was confirmed on the radio to me, so I knew I was racing for the lead. I made a shocking start but managed to get past Nakajima when he made a little mistake going up Clay Hill. Then I had to try to bridge that gap to Daniel. I was hoping to put him under pressure so that he moved up right behind Max, but unfortunately it didn't work out for me."
Grubmuller, who started fifth, drove well to overhaul Nakajima for third place on the fourth of the 20 laps, and finished well ahead of the Japanese driver. Midlander Riki Christodoulou placed fifth for the Fortec team, ahead of T-Sport team-mates Adriano Buzaid and Wayne Boyd, whose race pace proved much stronger than their qualifying times suggested they would.
Hywel Lloyd, Oliver Oakes and Victor Garcia rounded out the top 10, with McKenzie 11th overall and a very clear National Class victor some 20 seconds ahead of his nearest class rival, T-Sport's Gabriel Dias. The only non-finisher was Brazilian Victor Correa, who damaged the nosecone of his Litespeed machine with a mid-race spin.
Ricciardo's second win was even more impressive than the first, as it required him to overhaul the car of pole-sitter Grubmuller not once, but twice in what was a restarted race. The first race had to be abandoned on the opening lap after a two-car collision left wreckage strewn across the track; unfazed by the interruption, Ricciardo caught Grubmuller out at the restart also.
"The restart was a setback," said Red Bull racer Daniel, "but fortunately I was able to beat Walter away from the line the second time also. After that, it was a case of keeping my head and trying to maintain my pace. I'm still very new to this car and I'm still learning."
The first race had to be abandoned after F3 rookie Boyd spun at Old Hall Corner. His car was then collected by that of his T-Sport team-mate, Gabriel Dias, which rolled. Neither driver was injured in the crash.
Ricciardo's lead by the end of the opening lap of the restarted race was 1.3s, with Hitech Racing pilot Grubmuller his closest pursuer and the JTR Mygale of Tandy a close third. Grubmuller posted fastest lap of the race in his pursuit, but was unable to reel Ricciardo in. Daniel was 2.6s to the good at the fall of the chequered flag.
Tandy overhauled Chilton's Carlin car for the third on the opening lap and held station to the end for the final spot on the podium. Chilton made up for his first round faux pas with fourth, ahead of Nakajima and Christodoulou.
Buzaid lifted T-Sport's spirits with seventh after nicking the place early on from Carlos Huertas. The Colombian would have taken eighth but for a mid-race spin which dropped him to 14th... Carlin team-mates Oliver Oakes and Henry Arundel placed eighth and ninth, with Victor Garcia the final point-scorer in 10th, surviving late-race pressure from Hywel Lloyd. McKenzie once again enjoyed an untroubled run to National Class victory honours.