Scott Pye continued Rockingham’s maiden winners streak in Round 23 of the Cooper Tyres British Formula 3 International Series on Sunday morning, by dominating the sodden 20 minute sprint race from lights to flag.
An 8th place finish in Round 22 for the Double R driver meant the young Australian was placed on pole position for the 2nd race of the weekend, and the reigning British Formula Ford champion took full advantage – commanding the field for all 13 laps. Championship leader Felipe Nasr crossed the line in 2nd place, over 10 seconds behind Pye, with William Buller taking an exceptional podium after starting down in 15th.
“It was all about the start,” Pye said afterwards. “With the spray and the rain it was going to be difficult to overtake. Kevin and I made very similar starts but I led into turn one and commanded the race from there. After that it was just a case of keeping my head down. I knew that we were quick in the wet and though there was a lot of pressure with Kevin and Felipe behind me I kept my head down and drove away.”
“I thought going in, the race was going to be all about the start,” the Australian told The Checkered Flag. “I'm confident in the wet and I knew I would have good pace. I put quite a lot of pressure on myself at the start but thankfully I pulled it off and made it into turn one and really from then on I tried not to look in my mirrors. Obviously I had Kevin behind me but once I could see he was really struggling to keep up I just kept my head down, tried to be consistent and push hard at the start of race.”
“Thankfully I was able to ease off quite early and I was in command from then on. It's a good, I was feeling on top of my game at that point.”
he continued explaining his radio wasn’t working during the race; “I was just watching the pitboard and once it went to six seconds I thought I could relax a bit but once I saw it grow out to 9.6 and knew it was Felipe Nasr behind me it was definitely a good feeling. You keep pushing of course but I knew I was fairly comfortable at that point and didn't want to make any mistakes.”
Championship leader Nasr edged even closer to securing the 2011 British F3 title with a solid 2nd place, and was content with scoring more points. “Scott was way too far ahead of me to catch. I was happy to maintain my pace and get the points. I was struggling to find grip early on; once I had some heat in them it was not so bad.”
On the starting grid, Pye and Kevin Magnussen occupied the front row. Pye managed to hold off the Dane into the 1st sweeping left hander and quickly set about finding his feet in the slippery conditions. Magnussen held 2nd place until lap 4, when the tricky conditions caught him out as he slid wide at Yentwood, dropping him down to 4th place to join the duelling Carlin team-mates Nasr and Jazeman Jaafar. As Nasr pulled ahead to consolidate 2nd place, Jazeman and Magnussen’s scrap for 3rd became more heated as the race quickly entered the final stages.
On the final lap, Magnussen sought passing opportunities at every corner, whilst the charging Buller stalked the pair from a few seconds behind. Magnussen made a last gasp lunge into the final chicane – Jaafar refusing to conceed – and as the team-mates stumbled over one another, Fortec’s Buller nipped past Jaafar. Magnussen stayed ahead of them both, and while he crossed the line in 3rd, a post-race penalty for gaining an advantage by cutting the chicane added 3 seconds to his overall time – promoting Buller to 3rd and Jaafar to 4th. Magnussen was officially classified 5th.
So strong was Buller’s charge that he was up to 7th place by the of the opening lap, the Ulsterman revelling in the wet conditions. He dispatched Carlos Huertas, who would finish in 6th, on lap 2, and set about chasing down the front-runners. Menasheh Idafar claimed 7th place thanks to a strong opening lap, with Pipo Derani coming home 8th. Hywel Lloyd scored points for SinoVision by finishing 9th, with Rupert Svendsen-Cook only able to claim 10th place.
Kotaro Sakurai claimed his tenth Rookie Class victory of the season, though a last-lap spin made it more difficult than it needed to be.