Carlin 1-2-3 at Snetterton
Ireland's Niall Breen took his first win in British F3 to lead a Carlin Motorsport 1-2-3 ahead of Sam Bird and Alberto Valerio. Championship leader Marko Asmer had his first non-finish of the year thanks to a puncture on lap 7, while pole sitter Atte Mustonen dropped back after a terrible start with a broken clutch to finish in last place.
Mexico's Sergio Perez took a dominant 3rd win in the National Class to leap frog Frankie Cheng into the National Class title lead. Hamad Al Fardan scored another podium ahead of Raikkonen Robertson Racings Alistair Jackson.
With Sean Petterson missing from the grid, the 30 cars lined up to take the start of Round 7 with Atte Mustonen sitting out in front in the blistering Norfolk sunshine. The lights went out and the grid shot off the line, except the pole man who limped away from the line clearly his Dallara suffering a technical problem and he was passed by car after car.
Niall Breen, starting in second took advantage to take the lead but it was his Carlin teammate Sam Bird who shot through from 5th on the grid to finish the opening lap in 2nd place, ahead of Alberto Valerio who had also gained a place at the expense of Jonathan Kennard at the start.
Championship leader Marko Asmer also gained two places to end the opening lap behind Valerio and ahead of Kennard. Further back Rodolfo Gonzalez got one of the demon starts he demonstrated last season on his way to the National Class title and from 11th on the grid finished lap 2 in 6th only lose a place a few laps later to Stephen Jelley.
ADR’s Francesco Castellacci’s race ended in the corn field on the outside of the first corner and was joined by his teammate John Martin a few laps later.
At the front Breen was controlling the race with Bird able to keep tabs on his teammate but unable to get close enough to challenge for the lead. Bird also had to watch his mirrors as he in turn came under pressure from Valerio.
On lap 6 disaster struck for Marko Asmer as he limped into the pitlane with a puncture and into retirement, his first non-finish of the 2007 season. This allowed the top three Carlin Dallara’s to pull away slightly from the rest of the field. Behind the leading trio Jonathan Kennard, now in 4th, was being caught by his Double R teammate Stephen Jelley who had set the fastest lap of the race on lap 8 and then broke it again a few laps later. On lap 11 Jelley made his move and took the position from Kennard who immediately came under fire from Gonzalez.
Meanwhile back at the head of the field reigning Formula BMW champion Niall Breen was driving like a veteran, holding onto his lead despite the constant attention of Bird and Valerio. Valerio had to start looking in his mirrors as Jelley started to gain ground on the leading threesome but once again with Formula 3, catching is one thing, passing is another.
As the race drew to a close the status quo remained at the head of the field and Niall Breen took the checkered flag just 0.4 seconds ahead of Sam Bird to become the first Irish driver to win a British F3 race for over five years and notch up his first win in the category after just seven races. Alberto Valerio was delighted with 3rd as was his Carlin Motorsport team who joined the three drivers on the podium to celebrate.
In the National Class it was a lonely drive for Sergio Perez, who took his third win of the season but the battle for the minor podium positions was greatly contested.
Alastair Jackson was the leading contender for the second spot but Hamad Al Fardan had visited the podium in Bucharest for the first time and was hungry for more success. Walter Grubmuller was making his way back up through the field and got amongst the National Class battle and on lap 18 Al Fardan saw his opportunity and pounced, taking the position from Jackson. However Jackson fought back but as the race drew to a close Leo Mansell got his championship car between the two protagonists and this effectively ended Jackson’s challenge.
At the flag is was a delighted Sergio Perez who took the win, with Hamad Al Fardan becoming the highest placed Bahraini driver in British F3 history in second ahead of Jackson in third.
AutoRacing1.com photos will be posted later.
Pos Driver Make Time
1. Niall Breen Dallara/Mercedes 29:22.610
2. Sam Bird Dallara/Mercedes + 0.417
3. Alberto Valerio Dallara/Mercedes + 1.137
4. Stephen Jelley Dallara/Mercedes + 2.729
5. Rodolfo Gonzalez Dallara/Mugen-Honda + 9.986
6. Jonathan Kennard Dallara/Mercedes + 11.403
7. Maro Engel Dallara/Mercedes + 13.647
8. S.Hohenthal Dallara/Mercedes + 14.904
9. Greg Mansell Dallara/Mercedes + 15.340
10. Michael Devaney Mygale/Mercedes + 15.943
11. Max Chilton Dallara/Mercedes + 28.594
12. Mario Moraes Dallara/Mercedes + 32.237
13. Sergio Perez Dallara/Mugen-Honda + 35.244
14. E.Guerrieri Mygale/Mercedes + 35.928
15. W.Grubmuller Dallara/Mercedes + 41.065
16. Ricardo Teixeira Dallara/Mugen-Honda + 50.267
17. Leo Mansell Dallara/Mercedes + 51.881
18. Hamed Al Fardan Dallara/Mugen-Honda + 52.687
19. Ali Jackson Dallara/Mugen-Honda + 56.494
20. Cheng Cong Fu Dallara/Mugen-Honda + 58.014
21. S.Al-Khalifa Dallara/Mugen-Honda +1:06.627
22. Alberto Costa Dallara/Mugen-Honda +1:31.446
23. Juan P.Garcia Lola-Dome/Mugen-Honda + 1 Lap
24. Michael Meadows Dallara/Mugen-Honda + 1 Lap
25. Viktor Jensen Dallara/Mugen-Honda + 1 Lap
26. Alex Waters Dallara/Mugen-Honda + 1 Lap
27. Atte Mustonen Dallara/Mercedes + 2 Laps
Driver Make laps
John Martin Dallara/Mugen-Honda 6
Marko Asmer Dallara/Mercedes 5
F.Castellacci Dallara/Mugen-Honda 1
Fastest lap: Stephen Jelley, 1:01.995 on lap 12