LIGHTS TO FLAG VICTORY FOR ENGEL IN OPENING ROUND Pole sitter Maro Engel got his season off to a great start by taking a lights-to-flag victory in Round 1, finishing ahead of Marko Asmer and Stephen Jelley. The National Class was won by...
LIGHTS TO FLAG VICTORY FOR ENGEL IN OPENING ROUND
Pole sitter Maro Engel got his season off to a great start by taking a lights-to-flag victory in Round 1, finishing ahead of Marko Asmer and Stephen Jelley.
The National Class was won by Frankie Cheng, the Performance Racing driver passing pole position holder Sergio Perez at the start before the Mexican went off at Cascades with three other cars. Sean Petterson and Viktor Jensen filled the other two podium places.
The 31 car grid lined up two by two instead of the usual staggered formation and at the green lights Maro Engel got away cleanly as Stephen Jelley got two much wheel spin and was passed by Marko Asmer in the Hitech Dallara who had started immediately behind the Raikkonen Robertson driver. 3rd placed Sebastian Hohenthal was another loser in the firts race scramble for the first corner, ending the first lap two places further back after being passed by Asmer and Sam Bird.
British F3 National Class champion Rodolfo Gonzalez used the experience gained last season to get the best start, leaping into 5th place but losing a place to Sam Bird to end the opening lap in 6th place.
However a crash at the bottom of Craner Curves on the opening laps caused the safety car to be deployed with Sergio Perez, Francessco Castellacci and Ricardo Teixeira finishing the opening race of tehseason after just two corners. Rodolfo Avila and Mario Moraes had a separate incident that eliminated Avila and forced Moraes into the pitlane, later joining the field 1 lap down.
In the National Class, Frankie Cheng had already passed Perez into the first corner to take the lead of the class, with Juan Pablo Garcia Samano finishing the opening lap in 2nd, with Sean Petterson in 3rd as the cars circulated behind the safety car.
On lap 6 the race went green with Asmer diving to the outside of Engel as the leading pair headed into Old Hall, Engel held his line and the position as the rest of the field got back up to race speed. Petterson took advantage of the restart to overtake Samano to move into 2nd in the National Class.
Engel controlled the race from the front, giving Asmer no opportunity to get ahead of the flying German while the Estonian in turn was being pressurized by a resurgent Stephen Jelley. Further back Jonathan Kennard was putting pressure on Gonzalez but it took a further 6 laps before the Englishman could find a way past the TSport Mugen Honda powered Dallara. Once clear Kennard pulled out a gap of over 2 seconds but it was too late to catch Hohenthal to challenge for 5th.
As the race drew to a close Engel maintained a 1 second gap to Asmer, who in turn was holding off Jelley but no one gave an inch to any of their rivals. It was a similar story in the National Class with Frankie Cheng holding a gap to Petterson while Viktor Jensen had moved up to 3rd in class.