Double top for Vergne at Spa
Championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne claimed his second Spa-Francorchamps win of the day in round 17 of the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series, slicing through the field from seventh on the grid to second on the opening lap, and then deposing early leader Felipe Nasr on lap two. It was Carlin driver Vergne's eighth win of the season, and one of the best of an already remarkable season.
In the National class, Menasheh Idafar emulated Vergne to claim his second win of the day, but on this occasion his class rival James Cole ran him very close.
The shape of the race was established on the opening lap around the Belgian Grand Prix circuit, with Vergne -- who said afterwards "For once I made a good start" -- shooting through the field in pursuit of pole-sitter Nasr, who also made a good getaway in his Mercedes-powered Raikkonen Robertson racer. Jean-Eric took advantage of what he described as a "big mess of other cars" at Les Combes to take up second and start his pursuit of the Brazilian.
Vergne's irresistible progress carried him into the lead next time around through Les Combes. "Then I pushed really hard and he was too far back to take advantage of the tow, and I was free to go..." Jean-Eric's next target is a clean sweep of the Spa races: he starts tomorrow's 40-minute round 18 from second on the grid. "Everything is possible tomorrow," added the Parisian.
Nasr, who won his first race at Rockingham a fortnight ago, was pleased with second place, 0.6s behind Vergne. "The race in general was good for me," said Felipe. "It was difficult to stay with him because he was very quick in the second sector of the lap. If I could have got a bit closer I could have maybe got past him..."
Daniel McKenzie, another Rockingham race victor, returned to the podium after slotting into third at the start and holding off first his Fortec team-mate Oli Webb and then James Calado, who overhauled Webb for fourth on the third lap. Calado made a lunge for third at the final corner, the Bus Stop chicane, on the final lap but succeeded only in spinning. He was lucky to get going again before Webb could repass.
Mucke Motorsport's Carlos Munoz placed sixth overall and was the leading Invitation Class runner. The top 10 was completed by Rupert Svendsen-Cook, Hywel Lloyd, Daisuke Nakajima and Alexander Sims, the British F3 Euro Series driver enjoying a better second race for the ART team.
Among the dramas was a startline shunt which saw Jazeman Jaafar squeezed into the wall, and a tangle later on in the opening lap which led to the retirement of Prema team-mates Daniel Juncadella and Nicolas Marroc. A fourth-lap collision between Carlos Huertas and Adriano Buzaid accounted for both of the South Americans, while Lucas Foresti spun into retirement at the Bus Stop on the sixth lap.
There was a tense battle this time in the National class between T-Sport team-mates Idafar and Cole, with Idafar claiming the class win, by less than half a second, to increase slightly his points lead.