Pietro Fantin picked up his first British Formula 3 victory at Rockingham Motor Speedway today.
The 19-year-old picked up the lead on the fourteenth lap when the initial point man, Felipe Nasr, received a drive through penalty for exceeding the track limits at the turn three.
Fantin had started on pole, but bogged down off the line, offering the lead to grateful Nasr.
An early safety car would ensure Nasr did not pull away. While much of the field pulled away safely, T-Sport’s Yann Cunha collided with Fahmi Ilyas (Fortec) in the second turn – an accident that claimed the innocent Kotaro Sakurai (Hitech) – leaving a trio of Dallara’s stranded trackside.
Despite the neutralised field, Carlin’s Kevin Magnussen still managed a brief spin from 4th, dropping the Dane down to 11th as he regained his Volkswagen-powered machine.
When the race restarted on lap 8, Fantin kept the pressure on Nasr until a mistake shortly thereafter, leading to the Brazilian’s penalty.
Once in clear air, Fantin held the lead, despite the best intentions of Rupert Svendsen-Cook (2nd) and Jack Harvey (3rd), with the trio separated by 2.5 seconds to the flag. Post-race, it would be impossible to deny Fantin a smile:
“It is amazing, I’m really happy. At this track since the beginning of the year, we knew we would be quick when we put in some times in pre-season testing, so I knew this was my best chance and I got it.
My start was really good, but as the lights went off, [the clutch] slipped a bit. There was no traction, no revs and I couldn’t get 2nd gear. It’s really hard here to overtake, Rockingham is hard to follow, so you need a good start and for others to make mistakes.”
Svendsen-Cook, too, was pleased:
“I had a really great start and could, but it was very difficult to make progress to the guys in front because of the wind. On a high downforce track like this, it’s difficult to follow closely enough to make an overtake, unless the others make a mistake. That’s four 2nd places in a row and five podiums on the bounce, so we have a really good run of form.”
Harvey, however, had a slightly more straight forward race:
“I started 6th and managed to get quite a good start, moved to 5th straight off the line. Then [Kevin] Magnussen went off, so I gained a place there and then Felipe [Nasr] got a drive through, so the only person I overtook was off the start line. That was how my race went.
It’s been a tough week after Martin [Hines] died. I think things like that do take their toll, so to get a good result like this was the best way to remember him.”
Jazeman Jaafar had a relatively quiet race to 4th. After being passed by Harvey off the line, the Malaysian gained from Nasr’s and Magnussen’s errors.
Carlos Huertas had a slightly more adventurous race. The Colombian swapped positions twice with Double R runner Scott Pye in the opening tours, before settling into a quiet second half of the race.
Next up was Nasr who recovered to 6th after dropping to 8th. The Brazilian fell into a battle with Pye and Fortec pilot William Buller as he exited the pitlane, taking the pair on laps 16 and 19 respectively.
Pye could not hold onto 7th for long, with both Buller and Magnussen taking spots off of the Australian; however Buller, too, would go on to garner a drive through penalty for not respecting the track limits. After not taking the penalty, the County Down man would cross the line 8th, only to lose it later as the stewards added 60 seconds to his race time.
Menasheh Idafar (T-Sport) and Hywel Lloyd (Sino Vision) brought their machinery home 9th and 10th respectively at the flag. Lloyd was especially happy to see the chequered flag, having held Fortec’s Lucas Foresti at the bay for the duration.
Luca Orlandi won the Rookie Class at his first attempt, aided by the retired Sakurai.
2011 British F3 Rnd of Rockingham (Rd 8, Race 1) Pos Driver Team Car Time/Gap 1. Pietro Fantin Hitech Dallara-VW 30m37.904s (23 laps) 2. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin Dallara-VW + 1.219s 3. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW + 2.412s 4. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 3.240s 5. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW + 13.216s 6. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW + 15.995s 7. Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW + 22.660s 8. Scott Pye Double R Dallara-Merc + 23.390s 9. Menasheh Idafar T-Sport Dallara-VW + 25.025s 10. Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision Dallara-Merc + 25.938s 11. Lucas Foresti Fortec Dallara-Merc + 26.495s 12. Bart Hylkema T-Sport Dallara-VW + 30.815s 13. Pipo Derani Double R Dallara-Merc + 30.961s 14. Adderly Fong Sino Vision Dallara-Merc + 42.438s 15. William Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc + 1m22.175s * 16. Luca Orlandi West-Tec Dallara-Mugen + 1 lap Retirements: Harry Tincknell Fortec Dallara-Merc 4 laps Yann Cunha T-Sport Dallara-VW 0 laps Fahmi Ilyas Fortec Dallara-Merc 0 laps Kotaro Sakurai Hitech Dallara-Mugen 0 laps * 60 second penalty. 2011 British F3 Standings (Rd 8, Race 1) Pos Driver Points Championship Class 1. Felipe Nasr 274 2. Carlos Huertas 161 3. William Buller 153 4. Kevin Magnussen 148 5. Jazeman Jaafar 144 6. Rupert Svendsen-Cook 143 Rookie Class 1. Kotaro Sakurai 267 2. Bart Hylkema 214