BREEN TAKES MORE POINTS AFTER TOUGH CHALLENGE IN SPA
Dundalk's Niall Breen continued the challenge to find the optimum set-up with his Bar One Racing Carlin Motorsport Dallara at Spa Francorchamps on Friday and Saturday but still gathered another 5 points to add to his haul in the Lloyds TSB Insurance British Formula 3 Championship.
Supporting the 24 Hours GT race at the Belgium circuit, the first qualifying session was on Thursday, in which he under-steered the Dallara to ninth place for Round 13, which was held on Friday evening. The set-up problems continued into second qualifying on Friday morning and the best Niall was able to achieve was 12th on the grid.
With a new engineer for the weekend, the team did the best it could to iron out the handling problems for the first race on Friday evening. Breen made a good start for the 12 lap race but before long there was chaos as Carlin team mate Mario Moraes spun, blocking the track and Niall headed across the grass to avoid the blockage. He made it up to sixth place until championship leader Marko Asmer slipstreamed by on the last lap, leaving Breen seventh behind winner Carlin's Sam Bird, Jonathan Kennard, Stephen Jelley, Atte Mustonen, Rudolfo Gonzales and Asmer.
Round 14 on Saturday morning started in heavy rain and under the safety car and for the first two laps. When racing got underwat, there were incidents between Gonzales and Asmer and another with Greg Mansell and Sebastian Hohenthal. The order changed around Breen and he passed Asmer but as he did so, the pair touched enough for the valve to be pulled out of the tyre on the Irishman's car.
He continued on a flat tyre, which allowed Asmer and Esteban Guerrieri to get by. Soon after the safety car was deployed again with the race finishing under the safety car after just eight laps. Jonathan Kennard won from Carlin's Maro Engel and Bird with Jelley, Moraes, Mustonen, Alberto Valerio, Asmer and Breen next home.
Breen is now sixth in the series as Asmer Leads with 198 points from Bird (138), Engel (126), Jelley (122), Kennard (114) and Breen (101).
Next weekend, Breen competes in the F3 Masters at Zolder, the 21-year old rookie saying: "I'm looking forward to it. It's a good opportunity to be measured against a wider field of drivers. We tested at Zolder early this year, but it was a public day and there were lots of road cars on track as well, so it wasn't what you would call normal track conditions! It's a great circuit with lots of gradient changes, heavy braking areas and chicanes, so I think it will be a very interesting race."