British driver Riki Christodoulou led home a HiTech 1-2 after jumping pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen at the start of Round 5 of the 2011 British Formula 3 Championship.
Christodoulou took advantage of Magnussen’s stuttering-start and used his front row grid slot to full effect – snatching the lead before the first turn. HiTech team-mate, Pietro Fantin was even quicker off the line and challenged Christodoulou for the lead into Old Hall corner, but textbook defending meant Riki kept the lead.
It was a lead Christodoulou would never relinquish despite intimidating pace from Fantin in the latter half of the race. The Brazilian set a rhythmical series of fastest laps in the latter half of the race. In the end Fantin could only get within 2.4 seconds of his team-mate by the time the chequered flag fell.
Christodoulou was pleased with his second British F3 career victory: “It was pretty straight forward,” he said I got a good start in race one so I knew this race I had to do the same again and it made it easier with Magnussen stalling. Pietro got a really good start so I had to block him a little bit, but apart from that it was really straight forward and consistent.”
“It was always under control,” he added speaking to TCF after the podium celebrations. “I knew what he [Fantin] was doing – he was going for fastest laps – and I tried to push a bit harder at the end and made one or two mistakes on one of my best laps into the last corner so I was a bit annoyed about that because I'd done a really good first and middle sector.”
Fantin was beaming after his first F3 career podium: “It feels good, I am really happy. This is only my second weekend in the International class of British Formula 3, and already to have a podium is a big thing. I am developing as a driver and Hitech is developing the car. I think by the end of the season we will be fighting for poles and for wins.”
Harry Tincknell also celebrated his own maiden F3 podium after coming home in 3rd place. The Englishman withstood some serious pressure from championship contenders Jazeman Jaafar and Felipe Nasr, but drove sensibly and maturely to bag the final place on the podium.
“It's a big burden and it's nice to have that taken off your back to a certain degree,” Tincknell explained the importance of his maiden top three. “You know how hard the guys have been working over the winter to sort this car out and get us to the front so it's down to [the driver] then to deliver on the track. So it's a big relief in a way but it buoys the boy up a lot so I'm very happy to have got it so early on. I'm still a rookie – it's my first year in Formula 3 so there's still a lot to come.”
No Carlin cars were present in the top 3, something of a rare sight. Team-mates Jaafar, Nasr and Carlos Huertas finished 4th, 5th and 6th respectively. Race 1 winner Lucas Foresti crossed the line in 7th ahead of Rupert Svendsen-Cook who finished in the top 10 despite a scare at the downhill chicane early on. British Formula Ford champion Scott Pye led home Jack Harvey to round out the Top 10.
Menasheh Idafar’s bad luck continued to plague his weekend, the T-Sport driver lost control on the opening lap of the race, taking him out of contention for the second race in a row. He is scheduled to start in P3 for Round 6, provided the team can repair the car in time. Rookie driver Kotaru Sakurai also endured another bad race by spinning off on the final lap, allowing rival Bart Hylkema to take an even more comfortable win.
Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series
Round 5, Oulton Park 25/4/2011
13 laps / 34.996 miles
Provisional results Championship class
1 Riki CHRISTODOULOU, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen 19m 27.635s / 107.89mph
2 Pietro FANTIN, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen +2.403s
3 Harry TINCKNELL, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +9.135s
4 Jazeman JAAFAR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +10.449s
5 Felipe NASR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +11.316s
6 Carlos HUERTAS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +12.589s
7 Lucas FORESTI, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +13.172s
8 Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +17.690s
9 Scott PYE, Double R Dallara-Mercedes +18.370s
10 Jack HARVEY, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +21.904s etc
Provisional results Rookie class
1 Bart HYLKEMA, T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda +41.949s
Fastest lap Fantin 1m 28.840s
Full TSL timesheets http://bit.ly/fwgptU
Provisional championship standings
1 Nasr 72 points; 2 Jaafar 52; =3 Foresti & Huertas 42; 5 Fantin 29; 6 Christodoulou 27 etc
Rookie class: 1 Hylkema 76; 2 Kotaru Sakurai 15.
Round 6 – the last of the weekend – is scheduled to begin at 14:35 (BST)