William Buller scored his maiden British Formula 3 victory this morning in Round 17 at Paul Ricard. Buller was drawn on pole position for the 2nd race of the weekend, and comfortably lead from lights to flag ahead of Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Antonio Felix Da Costa.
But it wasn’t that simple for the Ulsterman – the race was initially restarted after wide-spread confusion at the start-light procedure – with chaotic consequences. Hywel Loyd stalled his Sino Vision car on the grid before the lights went out, prompting the red lights to flash amber instead of disappearing completely.
Some drivers took it as the cue to start racing, whilst others hesitated for a few moments, which was all it took to set off a chain of accidents down the grid. Double R team-mates Pipo Derani and Scott Pye eliminated each other before the start/finish line, and T-Sport’s Bart Hylkema also received a thump in the rear forcing him to retire.
The race was quickly red flagged as debris littered the home straight, and the remaining session was restarted as a 6-lap sprint race. The grid formed up for a 2nd time, and Buller got away cleanly from Svendsen-Cook before eeking out a small gap in front. Antonio Felix Da Costa earned his 3rd consecutive podium since joining the series only 2 weeks ago, the GP3 regular already finding himself 11th in the standings after only 5 races.
Buller, who’s potential was often marred by bad luck, was elated to finally clinch his maiden win: “It's so good to get the first one. I’ve waited so longâ€¦ I've been fast but things just haven't gone our way. Finally I have it and I'm so happy about it; it's good to be on that top step and I plan to continue from here. The second start was very good for me; I pulled away and it was all good from then on.”
“I had a great start,” said Svendsen-Cook, “but Will did also and I couldn't get him into the first corner. I was really pushing him for the first three laps but after that I couldn't follow so closely. Will then pulled out a bigger gap, I think because he had fresher tyres. But it's my third podium from three weekends, so all in all it's good.”
Kevin Magnussen finished on the tail of Da Costa to claim 4th place. Carlos Huertas was a few seconds behind in 5th, whilst a fierce scrap for 6th place eventually saw Jack Harvey come out on top. Lucas Foresti tenaciously held on to his position for the early laps of the race before a bold move from the Racing Steps Foundation driver saw it slip from his grasp – the Brazilian just about held on to 7th after a charge from fellow countryman Pietro Fantin. Championship leader Felipe Nasr came home an anonymous 9th after contact, whilst Jazeman Jaafar claimed 10th and a point after starting from the back of the field.
Lone Rookie Class competitor Kotaro Sakurai ran comfortably to his class win, finishing ahead of former rookie rival Bart Hylkema for the 2nd race in a row.
Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series
Round 17, Paul Ricard FRA 17/7/2011
6 laps / 21.78 miles
Provisional results Championship class
1 William BULLER /GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 12m 25.918s / 105.14mph
2 Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +1.621s
3 Antonio Felix da COSTA / POR, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen +2.288s
4 Kevin MAGNUSSEN / DEN, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +3.289s
5 Carlos HUERTAS / COL, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +6.186s
6 Jack HARVEY / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +9.693s
7 Lucas FORESTI / BRA, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +12.409s
8 Pietro FANTIN / BRA, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen +13.009s
9 Felipe NASR / BRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +14.173s
10 Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +16.888s etc
1 Kotaro SAKURAI / JPN, Hitech Dallara-Mugen Honda +39.201s
Fastest lap Buller 2m 02.977s / 106.25mph
Full timesheets http://bit.ly/oJQaiF
Provisional championship standings
1 Nasr 219 points; 2 Foresti 127; 3 Huertas 125; 4 Jaafar 114; 5 Magnussen 113;
6 Svendsen-Cook 94 etc
1 Bart Hylkema / NED 214; 2 Sakurai 192.
Race 3 – Round 18 – Begins at 4:45pm Local Time (BST+1)