Normal service resumed today at Thruxton in the Cooper Tires British F3 International championship, with Jean-Eric Vergne winning the morning's sprint race in blistering form. The victory was his tenth of the season and he also notched up a new fastest lap in the process. In the National class, Menasheh Idafar recovered from a spin to secure his tenth win of the season, ushering out team-mate James Cole.
Starting from sixth on the reversed format grid, the Carlin driver made short work of overtaking those ahead; team-mates Rupert Svendsen-Cook and James Calado falling victim to the championship leader within the first two laps.
Calado, in the Racing Steps Foundation shod Dallara, overtook Vergne to regain fourth, and for a minute must've thought lady luck was with him. Raikkonen Robertson's Felipe Nasr and Carlin's Lucas Foresti collided on the off-camber Woodham Hill, resulting in Foresti heading into the long grass and Nasr dropping to the back numerous places, but Calado snuck past Adriano Buzaid into second.
As Foresti's car struggled back to the pits, that left young Brit, Oli Webb out in front. After a difficult day on Saturday, Webb looked in fine form. Several setup changes meant his tyres were working better and he stretched out a narrow lead.
Red Bull backed Vergne saw the opportunity for victory and made light work of his team-mates admirable challenges. Buzaid was first to go on lap five up Woodham Hill, and on lap seven a cheeky move up the inside into the Club chicane on Calado, saw Vergne take second. Next up was Webb. Further back, Svendsen-Cook passed Buzaid and settled in behind Calado.
Back at the front, Vergne reeled in Webb with ease and by the start of lap twelve; it looked like the spoils would be his. However, Webb is by no means a pushover and guarded his line through the difficult Campbell and Cobb complex. In the run up to the Club chicane, Vergne switched lines and boldly ushered his car up the inside of the Fortec. It was an uncharacteristically forceful move from Vergne, but the Milton Keynes based driver was simply able to brake later and he later added, “I braked really late, the car was really good – I don't know, maybe I had less downforce than him and he couldn't brake as well as me – but it was a really good move, maybe my best in the year.”
Having watched his team-mates move, Calado pulled the same manoeuvre on Webb two laps later and Webb saw his hopes of a first win since Magny Cours, dashed. However, it was a solid race for his Fortec team, on the penultimate lap his team-mate Daniel McKenzie overtook Brazilian Buzaid to finish fifth and just over a second adrift of Webb.
Another Brit who wasn't enjoying the same fortune as Calado and Webb was Alex Brundle. The T-Sport driver has struggled all season, and even the presence of his father, BBC Formula 1 pundit, Martin Brundle, wasn't enough to improve his form, as he crossed the line in a lowly eleventh place.
Special mention should be given to Raikkonen Robertson’s Carlos Huertas, who has become somewhat of a midfield master and finished in eighth place ahead of Hitech’s Gabriel Dias, and the Lotus coloured Litespeed of Jay Bridger.
Vergne's victory and lap record extends his lead in the championship by twelve points to 278 points, from Calado on 182 points.
Reigning Formula Ford Champion, James Cole, was unable to repeat his victory from yesterday and looked distinctly lacklustre behind the wheel. After team mate Idafar spun following contact with Adderley Fong, Cole was unable to draw out an advantage and was promptly overtaken by a determined Idafar. The win puts the nineteen year old ahead in a championship that looks like it will go down to the wire.
Cooper Tires British F3 International Series
Round 20 Thruxton 8/8/2010 17 laps = 40.05 miles
Provisional results International class
1 Jean-Eric VERGNE / FRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 19m 09.854s / 125.39mph
2 James CALADO / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +1.638s
3 Oli WEBB / GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +3.215s
4 Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +7.875s
5 Daniel McKENZIE / GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +8.988s
6 Adriano BUZAID / BRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +10.440s
7 Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +16.264s
8 Carlos HUERTAS / COL, RR Dallara-Mercedes +16.676s
9 Gabriel DIAS / BRA, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen +19.900s
10 Jay BRIDGER / GBR, Litespeed Dallara-Mercedes +24.622s etc
1 Menasheh IDAFAR / GBR, T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda +34.972s
2 James COLE / GBR, T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda +38.931s
Fastest lap: Vergne 1m 06.752s / 127.06mph Record