In an accident strewn Sunday morning at Paul Ricard, William Buller took his first British Formula 3 race.
The Fortec pilot beat Carlin’s Rupert Svendsen-Cook to the flag by only 1.6 seconds, although judging by Buller’s pace, that gap could have been longer had the event run longer than six laps…
Buller led the shortened event from lights to flag, but the County Down man had to wait for it, thanks to a start-line crash bringing out a red flag.
Following a speedy clean up, Buller led away from Svendsen-Cook, although the Carlin man kept the race winner honest all the way. The Fortec runner added some icing to the cake with the fastest lap.
Whereas Svendsen-Cook could do nothing about passing the on-fire Buller, the Englishman was also busy keeping an eye-out for Antonio Felix da Costa (Hitech) and Carlin’s Kevin Magnussen.
A staggering start by da Costa shot the Portuguese driver up the order from 6th to 3rd, with Magnussen, Jack Harvey and Carlos Huertas (both Carlin) falling behind the Hitech runner.
Once released by the gaggle of Carlin machinery, da Costa pursued Svendsen-Cook for the runner-up spot, eventually losing out by six-tenths at the flag, with Magnussen a second further back in 4th place.
Beyond the start, Huertas enjoyed a quite drive to 5th. A first lap move on Harvey gave the Colombian yet another top-five position. Yet for all his point-scoring consistency, the Colombian has yet to triumph in a British F3 car – a fact clearing holding his championship challenge back.
Harvey, on the other hand, enjoyed a rather feisty drive to 6th. A poor opening lap ensured the young Briton fell to 8th, although race long battles with Pietro Fantin (Hitech), Lucas Foresti and Harry Tincknell (both Fortec) made for an entertaining stint.
The fight lost Tincknell early on – a lunge on Harvey by Fantin, bounced the Hitech man into Tincknell’s path, sending the Fortec driver into a spin. With Tincknell off track and Fantin in recovery mode, Harvey made a fourth lap move on Foresti to assume 6th place.
For their troubles, Foresti recorded a 7th place finish, only six-tenths ahead of Fantin (8th). Tincknell’s race got worse after his spin – the Exeter man was hit with a drive through penalty for not respecting the track limits, leaving him 17th and last.
Carlin’s Felipe Nasr was also penalised for exceeding the track limits. The Brazilian had initially taken a 9th place finish, but 30-second post-race penalty would drop Nasr to 16th, bringing Jazeman Jaafar (9th, Carlin) and Hywel Lloyd (10th, Sino Vision) into the points.
The trio had had quite a fight during the race. A spin on his second lap dropped Nasr to 10th amongst Jaafar and Lloyd, although a forceful move on Lloyd brought Nasr another place.
On the penultimate lap, Jaafar passed Lloyd for what was then the final points paying place, only for their positions to improve after the event.
Kotaro Sakurai won the Rookie Class – unsurprising as he is the only competitor.
A faulty start-line procedure caused a multi-car pile-up that resulted in both Double R Racing drivers (Pipo Derani and Scott Pye) clattering into each other in a mesh of confusion.
T-Sport’s Bart Hylkema was also accident bound off the line. Hylkema came close to removing the two championship leaders, Nasr and Foresti). The Dutchman bounced off of Foresti, before being launched over the slow-starting Nasr.
Amongst the melee, Hywel Lloyd stalled, but was restarted; however Hylkema, Derani and Pye were done for the race.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Will Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc 12m25.918s (6 laps) 2. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin Dallara-VW + 1.621s 3. Antonio Felix da Costa Hitech Dallara-VW + 2.288s 4. Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW + 3.289s 5. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW + 6.186s 6. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW + 9.693s 7. Lucas Foresti Fortec Dallara-Merc + 12.409s 8. Pietro Fantin Hitech Dallara-VW + 13.009s 9. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 16.888s 10. Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision Dallara-Merc + 18.748s 11. Menasheh Idafar T-Sport Dallara-VW + 19.410s 12. Adderly Fong Sino Vision Dallara-Merc + 20.134s 13. Yann Cunha T-Sport Dallara-VW + 20.958s 14. Fahmi Ilyas Fortec Dallara-Merc + 37.466s 15. Kotaro Sakurai Hitech Dallara-Mugen + 39.201s 16. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW + 14.173s* 17. Harry Tincknell Fortec Dallara-Merc + 50.685s (*30-sec penalty) Retired: Pipo Derani Double R Dallara-Merc 0 laps Scott Pye Double R Dallara-Merc 0 laps Bart Hylkema T-Sport Dallara-VW 0 laps 2011 British Formula 3 Championship Standings (Rd 6, Race2) Pos Driver Points Championship Class 1 Nasr 217 points 2 Foresti 127 3 Huertas 125 4 Jaafar 115 5 Magnussen 113 6 Svendsen-Cook 94 Rookie class 1 Hylkema 214 2 Sakurai 192