MANOR MOTORSPORT MAKES WELCOME PODIUM RETURN AT DIJON Roberto Merhi took Manor Motorsport back onto the Formula 3 Euroseries podium on Sunday, 11th October, during the penultimate race meeting of the 2009 season at Dijon-Prenois in France. The...
MANOR MOTORSPORT MAKES WELCOME PODIUM RETURN AT DIJON
Roberto Merhi took Manor Motorsport back onto the Formula 3 Euroseries podium on Sunday, 11th October, during the penultimate race meeting of the 2009 season at Dijon-Prenois in France.
The 18-year-old Spaniard, who had three other rostrum finishes under his belt prior to the weekend, raced to his -- and the Dinnington-based team's -- first points finish since the Oschersleben event at the beginning of August during Saturday morning's opening race. He then converted a fourth place grid start for the second encounter into a podium finish on Sunday.
Moving him back up the championship table into seventh place on 36 points, Merhi is now just three points away from the coveted top six in his maiden season in the world's most competitive F3 series and his weekend tally of eight points has consolidated Manor's top four placing in the team's table.
South American driver Pedro Enrique enjoyed a strong drive in the opening encounter, round 17, as he carved his way through the order from the back of the grid to a highly creditable 15th place. Sadly, his round 18 efforts were dealt a blow after being handed a time penalty for speeding in the pitlane.
"It's been a long time since we were last in the points and on the podium, a couple of months for sure, so we're absolutely delighted to be back where we should be", commented Manor Motorsport team owner John Booth, "Roberto's races this weekend have been fantastic and Pedro has produced two very good performances as well -- it's been a pleasing weekend for everyone."
Lining up in 11th place on the grid for the opening race, after posting a best lap of 1m11.023 seconds (192.664 km/h) during Friday afternoon's qualifying session, Merhi made an outstanding start and gained several places immediately as he climbed into the top six.
The Spaniard then moved into fifth when Valtteri Bottas had to serve a drive-through penalty for a jump-start, Merhi finishing almost four seconds ahead of his closest pursuer with a fastest lap of 1m11.340 seconds -- just three 10ths of a second shy of the best of all. Merhi's result marked a very welcome return to the points for Manor after a barren run over the last three events.
Team-mate Enrique also enjoyed a good race by carving his way through to an eventual finish of 15th, ahead of the aforementioned Bottas, having started the encounter from a lower than expected 22nd on the grid with a qualifying time of 1m11.741 seconds (190.736 km/h).
Sunday's 18th round began with Merhi lining up on the second row of the grid and he raced very strongly indeed to take his fourth podium of the season in an outing which began with a multi-car collision and subsequent re-start. Enrique's 30-second penalty came as a result of a pitlane speeding infringement following a spin and he was classified a lap down in 14th position.
"Hopefully at the final event in a couple of weeks we can end the championship with a win", added Booth, "We're hungry to be back on the top step of the podium, it's been a long time and the team deserves a win for all the hard work they've put in once again this year. Roberto deserves it too, his pace has been outstanding and his racecraft is equally impressive.
"Pedro had a very good drive on Saturday but in the second race he unfortunately had a 30 second penalty added to his time for speeding in the pitlane when he pitted following a spin. It was a shame for him to end an otherwise decent weekend that way. Now, we're all looking forward to the season finale which will hopefully provide us with some good results to end the championship on a high."
Hockenheim in Germany will host the season finale of the 2009 Formula 3 Euroseries, rounds 19 and 20, two weeks from now, 24th/25th October.