This afternoon at Silverstone Renger van der Zande (Hitech Racing), having been freed from the need to follow team orders, took a well-earned victory after fighting his way up the order. Second was Daisuke Nakajima (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) who...
This afternoon at Silverstone Renger van der Zande (Hitech Racing), having been freed from the need to follow team orders, took a well-earned victory after fighting his way up the order. Second was Daisuke Nakajima (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) who led during the early stages but then found the car losing pace, while Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin Motorsport) was 3rd after a very fine race that saw him claw his way up from 5th. The National Class went to Gabriel Dias (T-Sport) while Daniel McKenzie (Fortec Motorsport) battled Victor Correa (Litespeed F3) to claim 2nd despite a rather more exciting afternoon than he might have wished for.
Before the start Max Snegirev (Team West-Tec) pulled into the pit lane, opting to start from there instead of from his usual spot on the back of grid. At the actual start, Nakajima shot away into the lead, Max Chilton (Carlin Motorsport) proving to be awake enough to hold onto 2nd this time. Series leader Ricciardo, on the other hand, made what was a poor start for him, and ended up dropping back behind both van der Zande and Walter Grubmuller (Hitech Racing). Henry Arundel (Carlin Motorsport) was having a bad day too, plummeting down the order while in the middle of the pack Jay Bridger (Litespeed F3/Bridger Motorsport) spun and ended up last, narrowly avoiding taking out McKenzie on the way and dropping him to 3rd in class.
It didn't take long for Nakajima to start coming under pressure from Chilton, but the man really being hard pressed was Grubmuller. He had Ricciardo all over him, looking for a way past. The Australian started by attempting to go up the inside of the Austrian on the way to Copse, and he almost made it stick, but couldn't quite hold the place. Chilton, meanwhile, was also under pressure, in his case from van der Zande, the Dutchman clearly not planning on waiting around for Grubmuller this time. The top three were now starting to pull away as Ricciardo continued looking for a way up to 4th. Behind him, there was also quite a queue for 6th, with Carlos Huertas (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) holding up a fine selection of people, including Riki Christodoulou (Fortec Motorsport), a recovering Arundel, Wayne Boyd (T-Sport) and Victor Garcia (Fortec Motorsport). Dias, meanwhile, was leading the National Class from Correa while McKenzie struggled to catch back up.
In his efforts to get free of van der Zande, Chilton set the fastest lap of the race, but it didn't help and he was all over Chilton, while Ricciardo was giving Grubmuller much the same treatment. And at the front Nakajima couldn't shake off Chilton, though he was safer than he would have been had van der Zande not been there. Ricciardo, meanwhile, was maintaining a watching brief and waiting for his chance. Shortly afterwards, van der Zande was right on Chilton's tail and it didn't look as if would take long for him to find his way past. In that he was helped by Chilton when the youngster made an attempt to get past Nakajima. That dropped Chilton right into van der Zande's clutches, and it wasn't long before Nakajima fell to the Dutchman too, letting him through into the lead.
In the National Class things were hotting up too, with McKenzie now on tail of Correa and wanting to get past. The Litespeed driver didn't want to make it easy but on lap 7 McKenzie finally got a run on the red and white car and was through. If that was close, it was nothng compared to what was happening at the front. While van der Zande pulled steadily away, Ricciardo finally found a way past Grubmuller to snatch 4th. It didn't take him long before he started to catch Nakajima and Chilton. With the Japanese acting as a road-block as he often does, Chilton eventually made a bid to get through, and that was where it all went wrong for the youngster. He locked wheels with Nakajima, and ended up skittering over the grass, coming back on in 9th just behind Wayne Boyd (T-Sport). Nakajima survived but now had Ricciardo bearing down on him, the Australian a much tougher prospect than Chilton. And it wasn't long before Ricciardo was all over him like the proverbial cheap suit. The one thing saving the Japanese was that Grubmuller was staying with them both, which meant Ricciardo couldn't turn his full attention to the business of claiming 2nd from Nakajima.
Behind them there was another train, with a bunch of cars bottled up behind Huertas. Christodoulou at the head of them, followed by Arundel and Boyd, with Chilton and Garcia also joining in as they all jockeyed for position while trying not to trip over each other. At the back, Bridger was still on his recovery drive and was no longer last, having easily found a way past Snegirev for the penultimate place. He wouldn't stop there either.
Up the front Ricciardo took another look at Nakajima but it isn't ever easy to pass Nakajima, and this was proving much the case again. No matter what Ricciardo tried, it was probably going to require too risky a move to actually make it stick, and the Australian now needs to think about wrapping up the title rather than battling with people he doesn't need to battle with at the cost of a useful points score. It didn't stop him taking a look, but he was probably rather more circumspect than he might have been earlier in the year.
Less circumspect was Chilton, who finally got through on Boyd only to end up being mugged by his own team-mate, Arundel. That dropped Chilton back to 9th again after a trip through the gravel, and cost Arundel too, all of which gave Boyd his place back. As a result it freed up Christodoulou to really have a go at Huertas now that he didn't have Chilton and the rest to worry about although Chilton recovered yet again from the disaster to get back ahead of Arundel and Boyd towards the end. However, Christodoulou just knew he now had the ideal opportunity. He certainly had a good go into Copse, but ultimately couldn't get through and had to drop back again. He harried the Colombian all the way to the flag without every really finding an answer. Still, it made a change as he's usually been stuck behind Nakajima this season.
And so van der Zande came home to a well-deserved win, ahead of the very disappointed Nakajima, while Ricciardo shored up his lead in the championship with a useful 12 points for 3rd. Fourth was Grubmuller, ahead of Christodoulou, Huertas, Chilton, Boyd, Arundel, Chilton and Garcia. 11th was Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing), from Adriano Buzaid (T-Sport), Philip Major (Carlin Motorsport) in a hastily rebuilt car. Next up was National Class winner Dias, from Stephane Richelmi (Barazi Epsilon), McKenzie, Correa, Kevin Chen (Raikkonen Robertson Racing), Bridger and Michele Faccin (Team West-Tec). 21st was Adil Hermanto (Litespeed F3), with Snegirev last as usual.
Fastest laps of the race went to Chilton and Dias.
Next Rounds: Portimao, Portugal, September 12th/13th 2009.
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Ricciardo cruises to Silverstone victory