A last corner shunt gave Felipe Nasr a shock British Formula 3 victory at Paul Ricard on Sunday.
The Carlin man watched calmly as 2nd place man Antonio Felix da Costa clashed with race leader Kevin Magnussen in the final turn, gifting Nasr his seventh win of the year.
It was a sad end to Magnussen’s race – to that point; the Dane had driven superbly well, leading every lap until speared by GP3 regular da Costa, who would recover to claim 2nd place – for a time.
Not believing his luck, Nasr sailed through for yet another victory, while Magnussen sat helpless trackside – his Dallara damaged beyond reason.
For a time, the battle focussed on Nasr and da Costa – the pair fought hard for the runner-up spot for much of the event, with Nasr heading his Portuguese rival for the first ten laps.
A mistake by the Brazilian through Beausset let da Costa through into 2nd; however the battle for the win continued to the flag – and the eventual crash. Soon after the chequered flag, da Costa was slapped with a 30-second penalty, dropping the Hitech runner to 9th.
It was not the only accident of the race. Like the second event of the weekend, this event opened with a smash, with the first six tours neutralised behind the safety car.
A start line bump between Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) and Pietro Fantin (Hitech) became a smash, removing both from the running.
The lower reaches of the pack closed quickly, causing further carnage, with Bart Hylkema (T-Sport), Scott Pye (Double R) and Fortec’s Harry Tincknell pinballing on the grid.
Jaafar, Fantin, Pye and Tincknell – their day done – returned to their respective garages; while Hylkema continued following a pit stop for a new front wing.
Where others crashed limply, William Buller soared. An excellent start by the Fortec man lifted him from 8th to 4th, ahead Jack Harvey. Buller maintained a narrow advantage for the duration, although 4th would soon become 2nd with the loss of Magnussen and da Costa.
Harvey – buoyed by his first F3 win at the Nurburgring two weeks ago – came to within 0.5 of Buller at the line, scoring another top-three in the process.
Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Carlos Huertas made it four Carlin entries in the top-five, albeit several seconds behind Harvey.
Behind them, Fortec’s Fahmi Ilyas registered his first points of the season with a credible 6th place finish after fending off T-Sport’s Yann Cunha and Hywel Lloyd (Sino Vision) in the early laps.
As Ilyas escaped, Cunha succumbed to Lloyd’s pressure, falling off circuit and out of the top ten. A penultimate lap crash with the other Sino Vision racer, Adderly Fong, would see both Cunha and Fong retire from the event.
Lloyd continued on to record his fifth 7th place of the year, ahead of Championship Class debutante Bart Hylkema (T-Sport), who came 8th despite his early pitstop.
Emerging at the rear of the pack, the Dutch pilot climbed into the points paying positions, gaining a further spot thanks to da Costa’s penalty. With the displaced Hitech driver taking 9th, the final points place fell to Double R Racing’s Pipo Derani (10th).
Kotaro Sakurai secured a third unchallenged Rookie Class win of the weekend, coming home 11th overall.
Only T-Sport’s Menasheh Idafar placed behind the Japanese runner. The Bahraini national clashed with Lucas Foresti on the twelfth tour, causing the Brazilian to fall out of the race with accident damage.
Coming into this weekend, Foresti was Nasr’s last remaining challenger for the British F3 title, but with the Fortec man now 110 points down on Nasr, the championship is all but over.
Unless something drastic happen in the final four rounds, Nasr only needs to go into cruise control from here on in.
The next round at the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium takes place from July 28-30.
2011 British F3 Round of Paul Ricard (Rd 6, Race 3, July 17th) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW 40m52.715s (17 laps) 2. Will Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc + 3.248s 3. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW + 3.734s 4. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin Dallara-VW + 9.626s 5. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW + 10.327s 6. Fahmi Ilyas Fortec Dallara-Merc + 17.462s 7. Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision Dallara-Merc + 24.990s 8. Bart Hylkema T-Sport Dallara-VW + 26.775s 9. Antonio Felix da Costa Hitech Dallara-VW + 31.504s 10. Pipo Derani Double R Dallara-Merc + 32.711s 11. Kotaro Sakurai Hitech Dallara-Mugen + 43.028s 12. Menasheh Idafar T-Sport Dallara-VW + 54.094s Retirements: Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW 16 laps Adderly Fong Sino Vision Dallara-Merc 16 laps Yann Cunha T-Sport Dallara-VW 16 laps Lucas Foresti Fortec Dallara-Merc 11 laps Pietro Fantin Hitech Dallara-VW 0 laps Scott Pye Double R Dallara-Merc 0 laps Harry Tincknell Fortec Dallara-Merc 0 laps Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW 0 laps 2011 British F3 Championship Standings (Rd 6, Race 3) Pos Driver Points Championship Class 1. Felipe Nasr 237 2. Carlos Huertas 133 3. Lucas Foresti 127 4. Jazeman Jaafar 115 5. Kevin Magnussen 113 6. William Buller 106 7. Rupert Svendsen-Cook 104 8. Harry Tincknell 64 9. Pietro Fantin 61 10. Riki Christodoulou 51 11. Antonio Felix da Costa 51 12. Jack Harvey 49 Rookie Class 1. Bart Hylkema 214 2. Kotaro Sakurai 213