HARTLEY DOMINATES IN ROMANIA AS BRIDGER IS CROWNED 2008 NATIONAL CLASS CHAMPION Brendon Hartley dominated the first British F3 International Series race in Bucharest to take his fifth win of 2008 and making him the driver with the most...
HARTLEY DOMINATES IN ROMANIA AS BRIDGER IS CROWNED 2008 NATIONAL CLASS CHAMPION
Brendon Hartley dominated the first British F3 International Series race in Bucharest to take his fifth win of 2008 and making him the driver with the most victories this year with three races remaining. Oliver Turvey finished second to extend his championship lead to seventeen points over third placed Jaime Alguersuari. Salman Al Khalifa became the first Bahraini driver to win in British F3 ahead of Hywel Lloyd but third was good enough for Jay Bridger to be crowned 2008 British F3 International Series National Class Champion.
Hartley made a good start to hold his lead into the first corner with all the front runners trying to find a way around their rivals but at the same time keeping away from the walls and kerbs. The status quo remained as Hartley held the top spot from Turvey, Alguersuari, Guerrieri, Abay and Chilton.
However further back their was all change in the National Class as Al Khalifa challenged Lloyd into the first corner, eventually making the move stick after the Welshman fought back into Turn 2. It was all change a few corners later when third suddenly became first after Jay Bridger and Steven Guerraro, who were fighting for the lead, suddenly locked up and both ran wide, leaving the Bahraini driver in the lead with Lloyd in second and Guerraro and Bridger back in third and fourth respectively.
Back at the front Brendon Hartley was pulling away from Oliver Turvey, the Red Bull driver lapping nearly a second quicker than the Racing Steps Foundation liveried Dallara. Further back Sergio Perez had passed John Martin on the opening lap but the Mexican was coming under immense pressure from the Australian as he seemed to be struggling with the car.
On lap 6 disaster struck for Steven Guerrero as he ran wide on the exit of Turn 12 and hit the wall hard. Behind the Columbian at the same corner Stefan Wilson and Philip Major collided, braking the rear suspension on the Canadian drivers car, and then Wilson's Dallara tagged the back of Kristjan Einar's Dallara, which ended up in the wall. Wilson dragged his car back to the pits to retire but Major and Einar's cars were stranded on the circuit and the safety car was deployed to allow them to be recovered.
Brendon Hartley saw his lead cut to nothing as the remaining drivers circulated behind the safety car. Marcus Ericsson had made his way up the field and was 13th behind Hartley after starting 22nd and dead last.
The safety car was withdrawn at the end of lap 10 and racing resumed with the leader judging the start perfectly to move well ahead of Turvey before the first corner. Jaime Alguersuari had a look at passing Turvey into Turn One but thought better of it. Sergio Perez had continued to struggle with his T Sport Dallara and on lap 11 the reason became apparent as smoke started to appear from the back of his car and a lap later the Mugen Honda engine let go and with it went the Mexican's hope of keeping in touch with his championship rivals.
Henry Arundel's race also came to an abrupt end a lap later as he hit the wall at the final corner, right next to a marshal's post which meant the stricken Dallara could be quickly removed under waved yellow. Marcus Ericsson was still trying to make progress but was finding it difficult to get past some of the back markers. However the Swede posted the fastest lap of the race on lap 15, a few hundredths quicker than the rapid Brendon Hartley.
However on lap 16 the race came to an abrupt end as Ricardo Teixeira's Mygale spun, rotating 360 degrees and came to rest in the middle of the track without hitting the wall. The Angolan's engine had stalled and Teixeira was stranded, so the red flags were deployed bringing an end to the race. The result was declared at the end of lap 15 and it was another 1-2-3 for Carlin Motorsport and the fifth for Brendon Hartley.
Salman Al Khalifa led the way home in the National Class to record his first British F3 win for himself and for Bahrain. However Jay Bridger was all smiles as he climbed out of the cockpit of his Fluid Motorsport Dallara as the 2008 National Class Champion.
Qualifying for Round 20 will take place at 10:45 on Sunday morning (8:45 UK time) with Round 20 due to start at 16:00 (14:00 UK time).