Junior Single Seater Race Weekend Round-Up – 10-12 May 2019

by Paul Hensby

Round two of the Formula Renault Eurocup championship took place at Silverstone last weekend, while it was also the second round for the F3 Asian Championship, which made its debut at the Thai circuit at Buriram.

Formula Renault Eurocup – Silverstone

Oscar Piastri became the first double winner of the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup championship last weekend as he took both available victories at Silverstone.

Race One

Piastri took pole position on Saturday morning for the opening race of the weekend, with the Australian being joined on the front row by R-ace GP team-mate Alexander Smolyar, but it was the Russian who led into the first turn.

Smolyar and Piastri pulled away from the rest of the field before the former was forced into retirement with a damage after just eight laps, ensuring the latter had a clear run to the chequered flag for his first victory of the season.

Such was the advantage, Piastri ended more than twelve seconds clear of second placed João Vieira of JD Motorsport, although he at least had the honour of being the leading rookie in the field ahead of Bhaitech Racing’s Petr Ptáček after a good battle between the duo.  Both Vieira and Ptáček, as well as Bhaitech Racing, all took their maiden podium finishes.

“Obviously that’s not the way I would have liked to win, but I’m really happy to bring R-ace GP a fifth consecutive win at Silverstone,” said Piastri on Saturday.  “It was very intense with Alex right from the first corner.

“We were side by side and very close in Maggotts and Becketts, but he used the tow before trying to pass on the outside at Stowe and got a better exit a few corners later! After he retired, I just had to stay on track and I want to thank the team for the great job they’ve done as our pace has been solid since the beginning of the weekend.

“I’m confident for tomorrow, but I have to improve my starts because it was far from perfect today.”

Callan O’Keeffe finished fourth on the road but the FA Racing by Drivex driver was penalised ten seconds for track limit offences, meaning the South African dropped to eighth in the final result, although it did bring him his first points of the season.

Inheriting fourth as a result of O’Keeffe’s penalty was JD Motorsport’s Ugo de Wilde, while fifth was the Renault Sport Academy-backed Caio Collet of R-ace GP despite an early trip across the grass for the young Brazilian rookie.

Lorenzo Colombo ended up sixth for MP Motorsport ahead of Leonardo Lorandi of JD Motorsport and the penalised O’Keeffe, while the points-paying positions were completed by Arden’s Patrik Pasma and MP Motorsport’s Victor Martins.

Kush Maini of M2 Competition was running third on the opening lap but with a damaged front wing, leaving him vulnerable from attack, with Ptáček the first beneficiary of this on lap two before Vieira, de Wilde, O’Keeffe and Collet worked their way ahead on lap three.  The Indian ultimately finished well outside the points in sixteenth.

Oscar Piastri became the first double winner of 2019 at Silverstone – Credit: Alexandre Guillaumot / DPPI

Race Two

Piastri once again took pole position for race two, this time in a more commanding fashion, although he was again joined on the front row by team-mate Smolyar, while Martins and Colombo filled row two.

Unlike on Saturday, Piastri’s launch away on Sunday was superb and he kept the lead into turn one, while Smolyar was able to consolidate his second place.  After his misfortune on Saturday, Smolyar was able to rebound with a podium finish, although he was unable to do anything about the pace up front of Piastri, who took a comfortable win by 3.426 seconds.

In a much better performance than was achieved on Saturday, Martins took the final spot on the podium ahead of Collet, who was forced to defend his position in the closing laps from Colombo.

Maini scored his first points of the weekend in sixth, while O’Keeffe finished seventh on the road, only to be penalised for a second consecutive day, the South African losing a place to de Wilde after being adjudged to have gained an advantage going off track to pass the Belgian at Copse.

Yves Baltas took home two points for ninth place for M2 Competition, while a day after his podium result, Vieira took only one point for tenth place on Sunday.

“No win is easy,” said Piastri after his Sunday triumph.  “My start was better than yesterday, but I couldn’t really afford myself to cruise in the opening laps.

“I had a really good pace, which allowed me to pull away and go on for the win. It is good to be at the top of the general classification although it doesn’t mean much after just four races. All I know for now is that I want more after these two victories!”

Championship Standings

After the first two rounds, Piastri now holds the advantage at the head of the championship with sixty-two points, sixteen clear of Martins, who had arrived at Silverstone with his nose in front.  Smolyar will be disappointed to be only third after showing good pace throughout the weekend, the Russian on forty-three points alongside de Wilde.

The next round of the season takes place around the streets of Monaco at the end of May, the only time across the season Eurocup plays a supporting role to the Formula 1 circus.

Oscar Piastri celebrates race two victory – Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

F3 Asian Championship – Chang International Circuit

Round two of the 2019 F3 Asian Championship took place at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, with Ukyo Sasahara taking two of the three wins available, either side of a win for Red Bull Junior Jack Doohan.

Race One

Starting from pole position, Hitech Grand Prix’s Sasahara held off an opening lap challenge from team-mate Doohan before easing away to take the victory, with Japanese racer ending 4.068 seconds clear of the Australian at the chequered flag.

Sasahara and Doohan were in a class of their own, with third placed Daniel Cao of Absolute Racing ending more than fourteen seconds adrift, although his race wasn’t helped by a slow getaway that saw him slip to seventh on lap one before moving back through the field to complete the podium.

“The start was not really perfect and I had to defend from Jack on the first couple of corners,” said Sasahara after race one. “It was really tough, but luckily I could manage in the front.

“In the first few laps I pushed for the fastest lap and managed it. After that, I tried to see how the tires would be for the end of the race. I think we managed well, so I have to thank all the Hitech GP team members.”

Eshan Pieris was Cao’s final victim, although the pace of the Chinese driver was such that he pulled away by more than three seconds over the closing laps from his Sri Lankan team-mate, while Brendon Leitch finished fifth for BlackArts Racing despite a penalty for track limit offences.

Ayrton Simmons, making his F3 Asian Championship debut with Pinnacle Motorsport, ended sixth ahead of Miki Koyama of B-Max Racing and Yu Kuai of ZEN Motorsport, although both also received penalties for track limit offences, relegating them to ninth and tenth respectively and promoting Yu Kanamaru of Super License and Akash Gowda of M-Sport Asia to seventh and eighth.

Paul Wong of 852 Challengers took the honours in the Masters category ahead of Thomas Luedi of BlackArts Racing, the duo finishing twelfth and thirteenth in the overall result behind Czech racer Tom Beckhauser, who was embroiled in a battle with Cao and Simmons when he spun off the track.

Ukyo Sasahara (centre) took two wins out of three in Thailand – Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Race Two

Sasahara again started from pole position and lead the opening lap, but unlike in race one, the Japanese racer was unable to retain his position, losing the lead to Doohan on lap two.  The Australian made the move into turn one and was never headed thereafter, pulling away to win by 9.260 seconds.

Sasahara was able to retain second, with Cao taking his second third place result of the weekend four seconds further behind after the Chinese driver passed Pieris on lap six.  The Sri Lankan then came under attack from Simmons, but the British racer could not find a way passed, with the pair finishing less than half a second apart at the chequered flag.

“Yes it was good weekend, great to get the win in Race 2,” said Doohan.  “I didn’t really get the best start and had to defend from Pieris into Turn 1. Luckily, I got a good exit and was able to try and have a go at Ukyo then. He defended well.

“I worked myself into the right position and then got him going into the hairpin. I concentrated on not overcooking it. When things settled a bit I pushed and was able to get away. I opened up a gap OK”

Beckhauser initially finished sixth but was handed a track limits penalty, promoting Yu Kuai to that position, although the Czech racer was able to retain seventh, albeit by only 0.008 from Japanese racer Koyama.

The top ten was completed by Kanamaru and Gowda, while Wong again took the honours in the Masters’ class as his only rival Luedi retired.  He was joined in retirement by Leitch thanks to a puncture that pushed him off track and into the gravel, and by Tommy Smith, who suffered a mechanical issue on his Pinnacle Motorsport machine.

Jack Doohan took victory in race two – Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Race Three

Sasahaya again defended his pole position from Doohan in race three, but the Japanese racer was able to withstand the pressure this time around to take his second win of the weekend.

Once he was clear of Doohan, Sasahaya pulled away to win by a comfortable margin of 10.566 seconds, while Leitch claimed his first podium of the weekend in third, albeit 22.494 seconds off the race winner.

“I expected more tyre degradation towards the end but tried to push on every lap to see if that would happen,” said Sasahaya.  “I didn’t know my lap time, but I felt like the tyre was degrading a little bit, but it was manageable so that means the car was perfect for the race.”

Leitch had found a way ahead of Doohan early on lap three but found the Australian attacking him again on lap eleven to reclaim the position, a position he would not relinquish again until the chequered flag.

Pieris took fourth ahead of Yu, while Simmons finished ahead of Kanamaru, Beckhauser and Cao, the quartet separated by just 2.338 seconds at the chequered flag, while Smith claimed tenth ahead of Koyama and Gowda.  Luedi secured the Masters’ win this time around ahead of Wong.

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