BIRD TOP OF THE CLASS IN MACAU

Sam Bird capped off his maiden Macau weekend in style, finishing 6th in the Grand Prix race on Sunday. In what observers called "the most competitive Macau line-up for years", the BP Ultimate Driver was this year's Top Rookie and also the leading driver from outside of Japanese F3 (the top five finishers having competed in the Far East this season).

Following an impressive performance in Saturday's Qualifying Race, Bird lined up fifth for the Grand Prix Race. Making his customary stunning start, the CJ Motorsport managed racer overtook British F3 Champion Asmer and Euroseries contender James Jakes to challenge Oshima for second place. By the time the 30 strong field reached Lisboa, Bird was third behind eventual winner Oliver Jarvis and Oshima.

However, having had to start the race on used tyres following his incident in Thursday's practice session, Sam struggled for early pace against the men on fresh rubber and, unable to carry equal speed into the straights, he had no choice but to yield to Asmer, Tsukakoshi and Streit successively. After a few laps, once the considerable performance advantage of new tyres had faded, Sam was back on level terms and was challenging Streit for 5th when the safety car was called out.

Over the five remaining racing laps, the MSA Elite driver remained in contention with some stunning lap times (personal best: 2:12.310) , but was unable to get past, and eventually took the chequered flag in sixth.

Team Principal Trevor Carlin commented, "Sam was extremely impressive; he made another fantastic start to challenge for the lead before settling into third place. Unfortunately he wasn't quite able to maintain that position but in a field a strong as this year's, it's still an incredibly impressive performance from a Macau rookie."

Sam added "I made a good start and made up some places but despite my best efforts, I just couldn't match their straight line speed. I would have loved to have got onto the podium for my team and myself but it wasn't to be. It has been an awesome experience to bring a close to my racing season and I want to take this opportunity to thank those who have supported me this year, in particular my main sponsors BP Ultimate, and my managers Serge Celebidachi and James Olivier from CJ Motorsport."

-credit: sb/cottimoreconsult.demon.co.uk