Though staring behind his title rivals Will Buller leapt to the lead on the opening lap of the first British F3 International Series race at Spa-Francorchamps.
Buller, starting the weekend as the points leader started from back in seventh but reaped the rewards of a clean run through a chaotic start in the first few corners. Buller led at the end of the opening lap with the Carlin trio that had started first, second and third now third, second and fourth with Jordan King leading polesitter Nicholas Latifi and Jann Mardenborough.
King had been delayed at La Source at the start by a fast starting Antonio Gioninazzi who found a path between he and Mardenborough only to outbrake himself for the hairpin pushing King wide in avoidance. King, seemingly getting the worst of the first corner bunching, was also clipped by Felipe Guimaraes who retired from the race.
The lead, and that his nearest challenger in the points was an early casualty put Buller in the best possible position which only improved as he pulled away from him into a lead of nearly five seconds. King in turn was pulling away from third place Latifi leading a close four way fight consisting of Mardenborugh, Sean Gelael and Tatiana Calderon.
The fight produced one of the few changes for position after the final lap, Galael passing Mardenborough for fourth, though the Welshman was back ahead less than a lap late. Mardenborugh went onto pressure Latifi for third at the start of the ninth lap. The two touched at the foot of Eau Rouge sparking a frightening accident. Latifi spun into the tyre barriers half way up Spa’s signature corner. Mardenborough, meanwhile was flipped upside down, spinning upside down over the crest of Radillion.
Though both drivers were able to climb from their cars uninjured the safety car was scrambled with seven minutes of the race remaining. Impressively the marshals worked to ensure the race finished under green flag conditions, producing a sprint finish which produced no further overtaking with Buller and King finishing first and second with Gelael inheriting third after the accident just ahead of him.
Though he lost the class lead in the early laps of the race Sun Zheng ended ahead in the National Class standings. The CF Racing driver had started on pole, but lost the position to Jordan Oon on lap three as he struggled in the damp, drizzly conditions that replaced the sunshine of qualifying.
Zheng was able to regain the position five laps later after a slow lap from Oon. Chris Vlok completed the National Class podium and the race finishers.