SPIN COSTS MERHI POTENTIAL TOP SIX FINISH IN MACAU
Manor Motorsport's Robert Merhi challenged hard for a top six finish during the 56th Windsor Arch Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix earlier today, Sunday, 22nd November, but an unfortunate spin for the Spaniard prevented him from delivering the result both he and the team deserved.
John Booth's Dinnington-based squad, which won the highly prestigious annual F3 race in 2005 with Brazilian racer Lucas di Grassi, achieved a best finish of 12th position during today's encounter on the streets of the former Portuguese enclave thanks to the sterling efforts of Columbian Carlos Huertas.
Merhi, who ended the 2009 Formula 3 Euroseries seventh overall, started ninth on the grid for the Grand Prix itself after a competitive run during the qualification race on Saturday, 21st November. Huertas would have to start from 19th position -- his efforts not aided by a grid penalty due to an engine change -- while Manor's third entry, Macanese driver Michael Ho, lined up in 26th place.
The main race was halted early on due to a multi-car collision and Ho was one of the eight drivers who were unable to complete the opening lap. At the re-start, Merhi and Huertas got away well and as the teenage Spaniard pressed on in his efforts to edge further into the top six, he posted the seventh fastest lap of the race with a time of 2m11.836 seconds.
British Formula 3 International Series front-runner Huertas also made similarly strong progress as he lapped the 6.1 kilometre Guia Circuit and eventually finished in 12th place just two 10ths of a second behind Victor Garcia. For luckless Merhi, hopes of a top result ended following an unfortunate spin at Lisboa Bend. He was classified 17th in the end, a lap down on the leaders.
Looking back on the weekend, Manor Motorsport team principal John Booth said: "It's been hard work but the team produced a great effort and Roberto was unlucky not to finish in the top four or five due to his spin. He raced strongly and was quick but, ultimately, there was no reward at the end which sums up our year in Formula 3 really.
"Carlos did a fantastic job. He was on the pace, passed people and raced very well. He wasn't helped by an unfortunate shunt at the start of second qualifying. It resulted in a broken engine, so he had to take a 10 place grid penalty when the engine had to be changed, but he fought back brilliantly. It's a shame Michael wasn't able to get further into the main race but, all in all, it's not been too bad."