WHAT A RACE! ASMER WINS ROUND 10 THRILLER Marko Asmer ( ...
WHAT A RACE! ASMER WINS ROUND 10 THRILLER
Marko Asmer (#7 Hitech Racing) took his 6th win of the season in dramatic style which saw the Estonian battling with Round 9 winner Maro Engel (#23 Carlin Motorsport) to the flag. Engel led until lap 11 when Asmer took the lead at the first corner. However Engel fought back and briefly regained the lead on lap 14 before Asmer made the move that won him the race at the next corner. Engel didn't give up and raced Asmer to the line. Sam Bird (#3 Carlin Racing) was third after driving an excellent race to secure his 6th podium on the trot in only his 10th British F3 race.
Sergio Perez finished off a perfect weekend with another win and fastest lap to take maximum points on his first visit to Monza.
As the 33 car grid sped down the long main straight to the first corner chicane the grid was tightly bunched with Engel leading the way. But 33 cars wont fit into the first corner at Monza and chaos ensued with cars going every which way to try and avoid contact with their neighbours but not everyone succeeded. Front row starter Stephen Jelley was one of the casualties from the melee, with Alberto Valerio (#22 Carlin Motorsport) suffering from a damaged front wing after a trip across the gravel.
As the cars exited the second chicane the order became clearer, with Asmer up a place to third behind Mario Moraes (#4 Carlin Motorsport), who had shot up the order from 9th on the grid. Everyone was amazed by the Brazilians demon start but it was judged he had jumped the start and a drive through penalty was the result on Lap 5. Valerio was in 4th but had a determined Sebastian Hohenthal (#5 Fortec Motorsport) behind, with Esteban Guerrieri (#14 Ultimate Motorsport) just ahead of Sam Bird and Niall Breen (#21 Carlin). Breen was suffering from serious understeer as he approached the slower corners and it was discovered he had a piece of debris stuck under his front wing. The Irishman was able to dislodge the problem after a couple of laps.
Maro Engel crossed the line for the first time, just ahead of Moraes and Asmer, with Valerio struggling to hold off Hohenthal for 4th. Further down the field battles raged for the minor positions when Dominick Muermans' Dallara was knocked into a barrel roll at the Parabolica after clashing with another car. The Dutchman's car ended up in the gravel trap upside down but the marshal's were one the scene immediately to free the Invitation Class driver who walked away in frustration but unharmed. Viktor Jensen (#37 ADR) pitted with a punctured left rear tyre at the end of the lap as was Valerio to replace the damaged front wing after being passed by Hohethal. Walter Grubmuller (#6 Hitech Racing) retired with a recurring electrical problem that had hampered his race weekend.
Lap 3 saw Bird move up the order to get on terms with Guerrieri and Hohenthal and on lap 4 he made his move, first on the Argentinean and then he swept past the Swede into the Parabolica. However Hohenthal got into the slipstream of the Carlin Dallara and used the tow to slingshot back around Bird into the first corner. There was contact between the two cars at Turn 1 and Guerrieri was forced to take to the grass to avoid the battling duo in front. All of Bird's good work on the previous lap was undone and he finished the 5th lap behind these two once again.
Mario Moraes came in to serve his drive through penalty, promoting Asmer to second and setting the scene for the dramatic battle for the lead. Asmer quickly closed the gap to Engel but the German was able to hold off the Estonian's challenges for the next four laps.
There was more drama further back on lap 6 as Rodolfo Gonzalez was the second driver to barrel roll in the race. A recovering Stephen Jelley was racing back through the field after the first corner incident and was 9th at the end of lap 5. He quickly dispatched Niall Breen and was right behind Gonzalez at the cars started lap 6. However there was contact into the first corner and Gonzalez was tipped into the 540 degree roll which saw the Venezuelan upside down on the outside of the corner. How like Muermans, the Italian marshals were on the scene very quickly and Gonzalez was freed unharmed by the incident. Jelley was awarded a drive through penalty for his part, which dropped him back down the order.
Back at the front Asmer had closed right up on Engel and was just 0.3 seconds as the leading pair began the 11th lap. Using the tow Asmer got alongside the German as they approached turn 1 and he took the lead. Engel immediately fought back trying the same move into the second chicane but Asmer had the line and held his hard won position. Engel wasn't going to be shaken off though and it was Asmer's turn to have his rear view mirrors filled with a Dallara.
On lap 12 Engel dived to the outside as they crossed the start finish line and they were side by side as they approached the first corner. Asmer squeezed Engel to the outside of the track and there was a puff of dust as the Carlin Dallara got onto the dirty part of the circuit at Turn 1.
Behind them Sam Bird had made up the two place he had lost and was now in 3rd place and pulling away from Hohenthal as the Fortec driver came under pressure from Niall Breen and Jonathan Kennard (#2 Raikkonen Robertson Racing). Alberto Valerio, despite being a lap down after his pitstop, was the quickest driver on the circuit. He set the fastest lap of the race on lap 10 and then broke this again on the penultimate lap to break the British F3 lap record for Monza with a 1m46.073.
Engel attacked again at Turn 1 on lap 14, but couldn't make the move stick but the next time around he made his move and this time Asmer had to give ground. Engel was back in front but Asmer wasn't going to let his 6th win of the year slip past him without a fight and at the second chicane he regained the lead going wheel to wheel with his German rival.
Engel latched onto the rear wing of the lead car and as they entered the final straight into the Parabolica, Asmer jinked left and right trying to break the slipstreaming effect that could slingshot his rival back into the lead. Engel was right behind the lead car as they crossed the line to start the final lap. The Carlin Dallara went to the outside of the Hitech car and was once again in a position to challenge. Asmer squeezed the German to the outside trying to defend his lead and there was most dust thrown up as Engel was forced onto the dirty part of the track once again.
Asmer's tactic paid off and he swept through Turn 1in the lead. Engel tried to get back on terms but the best overtaking opportunity was past. As the two cars entered the final corner for the last time Engel was too far back to challenge for the lead and Marko Asmer took the chequered flag for the 6th time in ten races, just 0.6 seconds ahead of Engel.
Sam Bird was a comfortable third ahead of Breen, Kennard and Hohenthal.
Sergio Perez was an impressive 7th overall and the young Mexican took a clean sweep for the weekend with two wins, two fastest laps and two pole positions. 'Frankie' Cheng finished off a good weekend with his second podium finish in 2nd, three places adrift of Perez but well ahead of third placed Hamad Al Fardan, the Bahraini driver putting the disappointment of the first race to score his 4th podium finish of the season.
Rounds 11 and 13 with take place on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit on the 15th July. The schedule for the television coverage for the two dramatic races in Monza is available on the championship website and shouldn't be missed for any reason.