TWIN WINS AT THRUXTON & VERGNE EDGES CLOSER TO TITLE Jean-Eric Vergne continued his relentless march towards the Cooper Tires British F3 title today (Sunday) at Thruxton, collecting twin wins at the wheel of his Carlin-prepared...
TWIN WINS AT THRUXTON & VERGNE EDGES CLOSER TO TITLE
Jean-Eric Vergne continued his relentless march towards the Cooper Tires British F3 title today (Sunday) at Thruxton, collecting twin wins at the wheel of his Carlin-prepared Dallara-Volkswagen to extend his championship advantage to 104 points.
Vergne has the opportunity next weekend (14/15 Aug) to crown himself as the first French champion of British Formula 3: if he can during the course of the three Silverstone races increase his points advantage to the 108 mark, the title will be his with two race meetings in hand.
Jean-Eric's sprint race win this morning was a vintage display of bravery and skill on what is the fastest track on the British F3 calendar, and he followed that up in the 40-minute feature race with an impressive 7.8-second victory.
In the National class, the championship title is still a very long way from being decided. James Cole leads by 10 points despite two class wins today for Menasheh Idafar.
Some masterful moves from Vergne brought the flying Frenchman a richly deserved victory at Thruxton this morning, his 10th win in 20 races. Vergne led home James Calado for a Carlin 1-2, with Oli Webb third for Fortec.
Vergne was in imperious form from the outset, determined that sixth spot on the grid would be no bar to his aspirations. His cause was aided by a second lap accident between the early leader, Brazilian Lucas Foresti, and his countryman Felipe Nasr.
Foresti's Carlin car overhauled the Raikkonen Robertson Racing machine of polesitter Nasr at the start and, as they disputed top spot on the approach to the Club chicane, they touched and spun off. That handed the lead to Webb, with Saturday winner Calado next up and Vergne fourth behind his team-mate Adriano Buzaid.
Vergne outdragged Buzaid for third up Woodham Hill on lap five, breaking the lap record as he did so, then settled on to Calado's tail. James had profited most from the lap two crash, jumping ahead of both Vergne and Buzaid in the chaos which followed, but the Racing Steps man had no answer to Vergne's subsequent pace.
Jean-Eric passed James into the chicane on lap seven and set about reeling in Webb, narrowing his 1.3s advantage to 0.4s within four laps. Then, into the chicane on lap 12, the Frenchman left his braking impossibly late as Webb hugged the inside line and drove all the way around the Englishman in what was possibly his best - and bravest - overtake of the season to date. And Vergne lowered his own lap record on the same lap.
Vergne, who went on to win by 1.6s, said of his manoeuvre on Webb: "I braked really late, the car was really good - I don't know, maybe I had less downforce than him and he couldn't brake as well as me - but it was a really good move, maybe my best in the year. It's all good news for the championship."
Webb lost second to Calado four laps from the end, James replicating Jean-Eric's late-braking adventures into Club to achieve it. Said Oli: "I just couldn't keep up the pace that we had at the beginning; they were just too quick. They caught me easily in the tow. It's always hard leading here. That was that, and there's not much else to say."
Calado was pleased with second, ahead of his rival for the championship runner-up spot, Oli Webb: "I had a good start and overtook Jean-Eric to catch up with Oli, but we made a few changes to the car yesterday and he had more pace than me. I made it easy for him to pass me because I didn't want to waste any time; it benefited me because it gave me the chance to pass Oli later on."
Rupert Svendsen-Cook enjoyed another strong showing to relieve Buzaid of fourth place on the ninth lap, with Fortec's Daniel McKenzie demoting the Brazilian to sixth two laps from the end. Jazeman Jaafar placed seventh ahead of Carlos Huertas and Gabriel Dias, with Jay Bridger 10th for Litespeed, ahead of Alex Brundle and Hywel Lloyd.
As in yesterday's race, Menasheh Idafar led the National class from the beginning for T-Sport, and again came to grief at the Club chicane. This time, however, his clash was with Adderley Fong in the Sino Vision car and, though their synchronised spin delayed both men, damage was minimal. Idafar lost the class lead to James Cole for a lap before reasserting his superiority to take the win.
For the 11th time this Cooper Tires British F3 season it was Jean-Eric Vergne who crossed the finish line ahead at Thruxton this afternoon, the Frenchman dominating after seeing off an early challenge from his Carlin team-mate James Calado. Vergne's championship advantage as the teams head for Silverstone next weekend is now extended to 104 points, and he has one hand firmly on the title.
Calado made things as difficult as he could for polesitter Vergne, slotting in behind him at the start and then outbraking him into the Club chicane at the end of the second lap. But Jean-Eric was having none of it and repaid the compliment next time around into Club to repass Calado and retake the lead.
An extended safety car period to retrieve the tangled cars of Max Snegirev and Adderley Fong from the barriers at Club bunched the pack up again but Vergne nailed the restart and sped into the middle distance over the course of the final 20 laps to claim his second win of the day.
"A few more points at Silverstone and the title is possible," said a delighted Vergne. "Today was a good race, it's always great to win like this, with a really great car."
Calado faded a little at mid-distance and found himself unable to resist a charging Webb, who passed for second place into Club on the 20th lap. Oli's result puts him back ahead of Calado - by a single point - in the championship standings.
Adriano Buzaid and Rupert Svendsen-Cook finished in line astern of third-placed Calado to make it make it four Carlin cars in the top five. Felipe Nasr got the better of Lucas Foresti for sixth, with Jay Bridger enjoying an excellent outing to claim eighth for Litespeed. Daniel McKenzie was forced to pit after getting caught in the Fong/Snegirev clash but battled back to an excellent ninth ahead of Alex Brundle, who made a long awaited return to the top 10 for T-Sport.
James Cole was another innocent to suffer damage in the Club chicane crash; he lost a wing but pitted and returned to the track to finish second in the National class behind his T-Sport team-mate Menasheh Idafar. Cole retains a 10-point class title lead.