FIRST F3 WINS FOR McKENZIE AND NASR AT ROCKINGHAM The Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series welcomed two new race winners at Rockingham today (Sunday), young Briton Daniel McKenzie triumphing in the first of the championship's ...
FIRST F3 WINS FOR McKENZIE AND NASR AT ROCKINGHAM
The Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series welcomed two new race winners at Rockingham today (Sunday), young Briton Daniel McKenzie triumphing in the first of the championship's pit-stop sprint races for the Fortec team, and Brazilian talent Felipe Nasr earning the Raikkonen Robertson team its first win of the year when he claimed victory in the feature race.
Daniel McKenzie made Cooper Tires British F3 history at Rockingham this morning, not only winning the championship's first-ever pit-stop race - in some style - but also claiming his maiden outright win. The 21-year-old Fortec driver timed his stop to perfection to exit the pits just far enough ahead of early leader Daisuke Nakajima to hold on to top spot for the last three laps of the race.
Nakajima was unlucky not to claim his maiden win. The Japanese driver made an immaculate start from the pole in his Raikkonen Robertson Racing Dallara to establish a commanding early lead ahead of the Carlin car of Adriano Buzaid and Felipe Nasr's sister RR machine.
But Daisuke was called to the pits on the eighth of the 16 laps to make his stop and, though he rejoined in front of all the other runners who had stopped, McKenzie played the cannier game and stopped as late as possible. He dived for the pits on lap 13 and rejoined a gnat's whisker ahead of the pursuing Nakajima.
"I wanted to win and I had the pace to do it," said Daisuke. "But I think McKenzie had the fresher tyres. It was close between us when he came out of the pits, but not close enough for me to make a move."
McKenzie, who had had to drive around both Nasr and Buzaid before inheriting the lead when Nakajima pitted, went on to win by a 1.1s margin, was elated: "It was all planned out and worked like a charm. It was a fantastic pit stop. The first win is always the hardest to achieve, so hopefully there will be many more to come for me."
Adriano Buzaid continued to third as his countryman Nasr plummeted to 15th by the end after stalling during his pit visit. Hitech men Gabriel Dias and Will Buller were fourth and fifth, just ahead of James Calado. Championship leader and round 13 winner Jean-Eric Vergne was ninth.
Menasheh Idafar and James Cole survived an inadvertent opening lap brush with each other, and the car of Max Snegirev, to continue to the end, a lap down, with Idafar in front to reclaim the National Class points lead from his T-Sport team-mate.
Felipe Nasr broke not only his duck in the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series but also provided the Raikkonen Robertson Racing team with its first race victory of the 2010 season. The 17-year-old Brazilian's win in the 40-minute Rockingham feature race was a hard-earned one, snatched from the grasp of his countryman Adriano Buzaid on the 10th of the 31 laps.
What turned out to be an enthralling race from start to finish began with a dramatic opening lap and a multi-car pile-up at the Deene hairpin. First in trouble was Carlos Huertas, who spun his Raikkonen Robertson Dallara into the wall on the run in to Deene. Then the cars of pole man Oli Webb and championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne touched as they disputed the lead through the hairpin; both spun, triggering a pile-up which accounted for several cars, notably those of Daisuke Nakajima, Gabriel Dias and Pietro Fantin.
Through the carnage and into a two-lap safety car period Nasr picked his way, pursued by Carlin men Buzaid, Jazeman Jaafar and James Calado.
At the restart Buzaid caught the less experienced Nasr napping into Deene to grab the lead, but six laps in front was all that Adriano could manage. Nasr, his tyres in fresher shape, was able wrest control back from his countryman at Deene and then romp into an unassailable lead, aided by a string of fastest laps.
Nasr romped home to win by 15.6s, and the Brazilian was delighted: "It is a great result for the team and for me, I am very pleased. I think my tyres were better than Adriano's and, once I was back in front, he couldn't keep up with me."
The lead lost, Buzaid was determined to hang on to second if possible. Problem was, a large queue of cars was building up behind, headed by the recovering Vergne, who had disposed of his team-mates Calado and Jaafar and now had designs on second spot. Buzaid repulsed attack after attack from the Frenchman but had to give best to him six laps from home when Vergne charged around his outside through Deene to claim the inside at Yentwood.
Jaafar hoped to follow Vergne's example and find a way past Buzaid, and indeed did promote himself to third for corner before being hung out to dry by the pursuing pack. Calado was the chief beneficiary of the sort out, the Racing Steps man slipping into the final podium slot. Buzaid recovered sufficiently to hang on to fourth. Will Buller pinched fifth back from Webb two laps from home, Oli having staged a brilliant recovery drive after his first-lap calamity.
James Cole was seventh overall and the National Class victor, having led his T-Sport team-mate and class rival Menasheh Idafar from the outset. Idafar placed eighth ahead of Hywel Lloyd and Jay Bridger.
The results of Round 15 remain provisional pending the hearing of a protest from the Fortec team into the circumstances surrounding the collision between Vergne and Webb.