ENGEL LEADS SECOND CARLIN 1-2-3 FINISH OF 2007 Maro Engel ( ...
ENGEL LEADS SECOND CARLIN 1-2-3 FINISH OF 2007
Maro Engel (#23 Carlin Motorsport) scored his second win of the season in an action packed first race at Monza, leading home Sam Bird (#3 Carlin Motorsport) and Alberto Valerio (#22 Carlin Motorsport) for a Carlin 1-2-3, the second of the season for the Andover based team.
Victory in the National Class went to Sergio Perez (#31 T Sport), the Mexican scoring his 4th win of the year and finishing ahead of 'Frankie' Cheng (#39 Performance Racing) and Mike Meadows (#55 Newnet Raikkonen Robertson Racing).
The 33 car grid lined up on the famous Monza grid in bright sunshine for the first race at the home of the Italian Grand Prix since 2005. Maro Engel was under immediate pressure from Stephen Jelley (#1 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) as the cars sped away from the line. The cars used all of the track on the approach to the first corner and there was a collision in the mid pack, with Sebastian Hohenthal (#5 Fortec Motorsport) spearing across the track with a damaged rear wing.
The cars filed through the first chicane and set off on the next straight. Marko Asmer (#7 Hitech Racing) had got a good start to move ahead of Sam Bird by the first corner. Second placed Jelley was side by side with Engel but had to defer to the German at Lesmo. Asmer then pounced, trying to take advantage of Jelley's abandoned attack on the lead. Jelley held the position but Asmer in turn had Bird in the tow as they approached the Parabolica for the first time. Bird jinked to the outside of Asmer and overtook the Estonian to move into 3rd. However his victory was short lived as Asmer regained the place into turn 1.
At the front Engel still had to keep his eyes on his rear view mirrors as Jelley challenged at every opportunity but the Raikkonen Robertson Racing driver fell victim to Asmer on the approach to the Parabolica. Greg Mansell's race came to an end when Esteban Guerrieri (#14 Ultimate Motorsport) touched the back of the Fortec Dallara, launching Mansell into the air and damaging the car, while Guerrieri's Mygale was able to continue the race.
On lap 3 Jelley was trying to get back at Asmer and the two cars briefly touched, causing the front wing of the Hitech Dallara to be damaged. However Asmer was able to continue in 2nd place despite the handicap. The move caused Jelley to fall into the clutches of Sam Bird, who moved ahead of Jelley before the end of the lap.
Meanwhile Alberto Valerio, who had started in 10th place and had lost another position at the start, was flying through the field. At the end of lap 2 he was up to 8th and gained a further two places by the end of lap 3. Valerio then caught and passed Jonathan Kennard (#2 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) while events at the front of the field helped his cause even further.
Stephen Jelley's race took a dramatic turn as he over did it at the first corner on lap 4. A challenge on Asmer didn't go to plan and the two cars touched, spinning Jelley off the track and dropping the championship leader to 6th behind Esteban Guerrieri. Jelley rejoined at the back of the field and the Englishman now had to fight his way back up the field.
Asmer started to work his way back up the field, picking off Guerrieri on lap 6 and Kennard two laps later, setting the fastest lap of the race at that point despite the handicap of the broken element on his front wing.
Further back Carlin teammates Mario Moraes and Niall Breen caught Michael Devaney (#15 Ultimate Motorsport) and began one of the highlights of the 16-lap race as the three drivers battled for 7th place. Each corner seemed to provide an overtaking opportunity for the following driver but at the next corner the places swap around again. At the end of lap 9 the cars crossed the line side by side as they raced down the straight towards the first chicane. Moraes held the upper hand but for only a short time.
Out in front Maro Engel was able to open and maintain a 2.5 second gap over second placed Sam Bird. Valerio had moved into third place but Asmer was catching the Brazilian. However the Avon slicks were well past their best in the Italian heat and the front of the race settled down. The Breen--Devaney--Moraes battle continued to rage, with Niall Breen eventually getting the upper hand.
Stephen Jelley was driving like a man processed and was clawing his way back up the field. He set the fastest lap of the race on lap 10 and then broke it twice more before the end of the race. However he was trying to get back into the points before the end of the race and had Max Chilton (#16 Arena Motorsport) in his sights. The 16-year-old was driving in his first Championship Class race having raced six times in the Invitation Class before getting his International B race license last week. Chilton was lying in 10th in class but only had a 1.7 second advantage over Jelley as they began the final lap of the race. Chilton was denied a points scoring finish in his first championship class race when Jelley swept past the young driver at Lesmo.
In the National Class 'Frankie' Cheng got a great start to on terms with Sergio Perez, who had started five places further up the grid than the Chinese driver. However Perez soon took control as he put some Championship Class cars between him and his rival. Cheng didn't allow Perez to get too comfortable but was unable to challenge the Mexican again before the end of the race. Third placed Hamad Al Fardan was the only retirement in the class, with Mike Meadows and Alex Waters (#34 Promatecme) having a good battle for the final podium position in the middle of the race.
At the flag an elated Maro Engel punched the air as he crossed the line to score his third British F3 victory and the second Carlin 1-2-3 of the season. Marko Asmer finished 4th and maintains a 43 point lead in the championship. Engel's victory moved the German up two places in the championship table ahead of Stephen Jelley and Niall Breen.