In a surprise result at Donington this afternoon, despite starting 9th and dropping down to 12th in the early stages, Wayne Boyd (T-Sport) took his maiden F3 win after a thriller of a race that had all sorts of drama and more excitement than...
In a surprise result at Donington this afternoon, despite starting 9th and dropping down to 12th in the early stages, Wayne Boyd (T-Sport) took his maiden F3 win after a thriller of a race that had all sorts of drama and more excitement than anyone could want. He was followed home by team- mate Adriano Buzaid, while 3rd was Walter Grubmuller. The National Class saw only two survivors in the shape of Daniel McKenzie (Fortec Motorsport), who won once again, and Gabriel Dias (T-Sport).
The race started in dry conditions, and pole man Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin Motorsport) made up for his morning's less than impeccable start by getting a blinder and screaming off into the distance. Buzaid went with him, while Grubmuller and Renger van der Zande (Hitech Racing) were scrapping over 3rd. Van der Zande resisted manfully and the Austrian had to settle in behind him. Just behind them was Carlos Huertas (Raikkonen Robertson Racing), holding off his team-mate Daisuke Nakajima. In the National Class Dias was ahead of McKenzie, thus keeping the championship battle alive. Shortly after McKenzie found himself swamped by Boyd and Philip Major (Carlin Motorsport) and sensibly didn't make an issue of it, settling for staying 2nd.
With the race a couple of laps old, the rain started up. At first it was just a brief shower, but the skies were now very dark and it seemed likely that it would pelt down again. Before it all got too soggy however, Ricciardo set a fastest lap and was beginning to pull away, but things were about to go badly wrong for the leader. The first inkling came when yellow flags were hauled out at Coppice, after Victor Garcia (Fortec Motorsport) fell off and buried himself in the gravel. Meanwhile Major and Boyd had clashed too, with the result that Major retired to the pits with broken suspension and a puncture.
With all the cars slowing dramatically as the track became increasingly wet, the Safety Car was scrambled while Garcia was hauled out of the gravel. It was probably not really necessary, and it would have a dramatic effect on the results of the race. As they settled in at a reduced pace the order was Ricciardo, from Buzaid, van der Zande, Grubmuller, Chilton, Huertas, Nakajima, Henry Arundel (Carlin Motorsport), Jay Bridger (Litespeed F3/Bridger Motorsport), Boyd and Riki Christodoulou (Fortec Motorsport).11th overall was Dias, from McKenzie, Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing), Victor Correa (Litespeed F3), Max Snegirev (Team West-Tec) and Dominic Storey (Raikkonen Robertson Racing).
Two laps later the race went live again and Buzaid promptly mounted an attack, trying to get round the outside of Ricciardo at Redgate. However, with van der Zande on his exhaust it was never going to be easy. The top three were so close together that they were almost side-by-side through Mcleans. The major loser in all of it was Ricciardo, who spun off through 720 degrees, finally managing to make an impressive save and end up still pointing the right way. He set off again down in 7th, and very, very angry. Buzaid also lost out, van der Zande barging ahead. All of this promoted Grubmuller to 3rd, but was by no means the end of the story. For one thing Boyd was on the move, charging past Arundel and towing Ricciardo with him. McKenzie, meanwhile, had made a mess of his restart and dropped to 3rd in class behind Correa, leaving Dias leading comfortably with Storey and Lloyd as a cushion between them. It's fair to say McKenzie certainly didn't look as if he was going to wrap the championship up this afternoon now. However, the main interest was again at the front, where the top 7 were running very close together despite the treacherously slippery conditions that now prevailed.
Boyd didn't seem aware of the conditions as a problem though, catching and passing Huertas at Mcleans and then setting about Chilton. Just to rub it in Ricciardo also caught the Colombian and tried to get through, running alongside him at Hollywood. However, he had to back off when Snegirev exhibited his usual revolutionary tendencies and fell off at the Old Hairpin, creating an outbreak of yellow flags. The Safety Car message flashed up on the screens, but then just as everyone had got the message, it vanished from our screens as the Russian got going again.
Once everyone was certain they weren't about to be asked to slow down, the action started up again as Boyd passed Chilton to go 4th behind Grubmuller. He didn't take long to despatch the Austrian either, squeezing by at Redgate; that meant that he was now in a podium position.
His next target was Buzaid and he was soon right behind the other T- Sport car. Whether Buzaid expected his team-mate to be gentle or not, Boyd didn't know and probably didn't care by then, blasting past at Coppice to be within sniffing distance of the leader, just as van der Zande was being shown the driving standards flag. Behind Boyd, Grubmuller made a lunge at Buzaid too, hoping to cash in, but had to back off. With yet another yellow flag zone breaking out at Mcleans where Storey had gone off, things settled down again, albeit briefly. For one thing it was now becoming incredibly slippery out on track as the rain just kept on coming. With everyone on slicks it really was a case of who could best handle the conditions. Turns out it was Boyd - it looked like all that Formula Ford lappery was really paying off. Someone who probably wished he'd got some experience was Dias, as he'd managed to go off while leading the National Class and handed the lead to McKenzie, a situation made only marginally better when Correa crashed out in the closing stages of the race and allowed Dias back up into 2nd. Nakajima was busy in the middle of the pack too, doing his usual "Japanese roadblock" routine, this time with Bridger and Christodoulou bottled up behind him - Riki wouldn't have liked that at all given his firmly stated views on the subject of Daisuke, but there was clearly nothing he could do about it. At least he was making some progress, which is more than could be said for Chilton. He'd lost out completely and was now back in 7th behind both Huertas and Ricciardo.
At the front, meanwhile, Boyd was absolutely scintillating, and had plastered himself to the back of van der Zande. His first attempt to pass the Dutchman came to nothing, but he was prepared to wait. His opportunity came at Redgate when he jinked out to the left and simply drove round the outside of the Hitech car. Van der Zande, who is a very tough competitor, could do nothing to resist and had to cede the place. To compound his misery he was handed a drive through penalty for his early lunge on Ricciardo, which he failed to serve, thus earning himself a 25-second penalty at the subsequent enquiry into his actions. Boyd didn't care. He was leading an F3 race for the first time in his life and no one was having it back from him.
And so it proved. T-Sport came home for their first 1-2, Boyd an absolutely delighted if somewhat bemused first time winner. It was certainly no use asking him about any of the overtaking moves he'd pulled, because he couldn't remember what happened where, "I overtook so many of them!" It was a fine drive, as was Buzaid's effort for 2nd. Grubmuller was 3rd once the penalty was applied to van der Zande, and Huertas finished 4th just ahead of Ricciardo, Arundel, Chilton, Bridger, Nakajima and Christodoulou. Lloyd finished 11th ahead of McKenzie, van der Zande and a deeply disappointed Dias.
Ricciardo still leads the title chase with 141 points, but Grubmuller is only 13 points behind. In the National Class it is highly likely that McKenzie will claim the title next time out at Spa as he is currently 60 points ahead of Dias with a maximum of 84 points still available.
Fastest laps of the race went to Ricciardo and Dias.
Weather: Grey, cloudy, threatening rain.
Next Rounds: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, July 24th/25th 2009.