Walter Grubmüller finally prevails at Hockenheim
Walter Grubmüller, the most experienced competitor in the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series, broke his duck today (Sun) at Hockenheim, leading the championship's eighth round from pole position to checkered flag to record a popular maiden victory.
Despite treacherous damp track conditions, Austrian Grubmüller did not put a wheel wrong in his Dallara-Mercedes and crossed the line a second clear of his team-mate Renger van der Zande to score a Hitech Racing 1-2. Championship debutant Robert Wickens was a close third for the Carlin Motorsport team.
Grubmüller, who moves into second place in the championship thanks to his victory, said: "It's excellent. This was a real team effort after all the misery we went through last year. We knew we would be quick here. I'm really happy; the team really deserves it." Walter won the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend award for his efforts.
Heavy rain in the hours before the off made the German circuit an unpredictable prospect for the 20-car field, all of whom opted to race on slick Cooper tires. There were several spinners in the early laps and quite a few more who found their cars less than well suited to the conditions.
Not so the Hitech cars, Grubmüller blasting into the lead at the off ahead of Saturday race-winner Marcus Ericsson in his Raikkonen Robertson Dallara. The Swede had made a devastatingly quick get-away from fifth on the grid to overhaul van der Zande and Max Chilton, and clung to Grubmüller's tail for five laps, falling back as the track dried.
After van der Zande pushed past Ericsson for second, the Dutch driver latched on to his team-mate's tail and they circulated as one for the remaining 12 laps. "I started on the wet line, so I had a bit of a disadvantage there, but I managed to hold on to third at the first corner. I waited for three laps to see where I was quicker than Ericsson. I passed him and then I stayed behind Walter because I did not want to take a big risk in the conditions. It was a good race and I'm so happy for the team because they worked so hard."
The battle for third provided the highlight of a thrilling race, as cars fought and collided in the bid to join the Hitech boys on the podium. Chilton ran third for several laps until Wickens (who had a lap prior got the better of an entertaining duel with his Red Bull/Carlin colleague and championship leader Daniel Ricciardo) nabbed the position from Max with an audacious move up his inside through the Sachs Kurve.
Worse was to come for Max; next lap he, Wayne Boyd and Ricciardo tangled at the hairpin and all three spun down the order. Boyd, who was enjoying a good run and had held fourth at one point, was forced into retirement with a damaged rear wing, while Chilton had to pit with a broken wheel. Ricciardo lost only three places and continued to eighth at the flag.
Nick Tandy and his JTR Mygale were promoted to fourth by the Chilton/Boyd/Ricciardo incident and Nick was right on the leading trio's tail for three laps before spinning away his chances of victory. "I was trying too hard to win," said a rueful Nick, "and I spun right around." Tandy lost four places.
Thus it was Ericsson who inherited fourth, the Swede finishing well ahead of top British finisher Riki Christodoulou. Tandy picked off Ricciardo and Adriano Buzaid on the final lap to slot into sixth, with Buzaid, Ricciardo and Henry Arundel completing the top nine.
An excellent 10th overall, and the leading National Class contender, was Fortec's Daniel McKenzie. With his usual sparring partner Gabriel Dias running very worn tires as a consequence of his Saturday accident, the Brazilian was in no shape to attack Dan. "It was a great race, I think Gabriel ended up about 45s behind me. It wasn't easy, though: I needed to keep my nose clean and the conditions were extremely hard. But the car was fantastic and I was keeping well up with the International runners."
Daisuke Nakajima collected the final international class point with 11th overall.
ROUND 7 EXCLUSION FOR TANDY
Nick Tandy, who finished eighth in yesterday's Hockenheim race, was later excluded from the results for a technical infringement. It was found that some tire debris thrown up from the track had lodged in the air restrictor of his JTR Mygale-Mercedes, causing damage to the restrictor, potentially enhancing the car's performance.
Round 8 provisional result, Hockenheim, 7/6/2009
18 laps / 51.16 miles
1 INT Walter Grubmüller/AUT, Hitech Dallara-Mercedes, 30m 05.203s / 102.02mph
2 INT Renger van der Zande/NED, Hitech Dallara-Mercedes, +1.039s
3 INT Robert Wickens/CDN, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, +1.448s
4 INT Marcus Ericsson/SWE, RR Dallara-Mercedes, +1.837s
5 INT Riki Christodoulou/GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes, +8.775s
6 INT Nick Tandy/GBR, JTR Mygale-Mercedes, +13.081s
7 INT Adriano Buzaid/BRA, T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen, +14.244s
8 INT Daniel Ricciardo/AUS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, +14.546s
9 INT Henry Arundel/GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, +15.482s
10 NAT Daniel McKenzie/GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mugen Honda, +17.281s
11 INT Daisuke Nakajima/JPN, RR Dallara-Mercedes, +25.542s
12 INT Stéphane Richelmi/MON, Barazi-Epsilon Dallara-Mercedes, +34.618s
13 INT Victor Garcia/ESP, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes, +35.374s
14 INT Carlos Huertas/COL, RR Dallara-Mercedes, +35.892s
15 NAT Gabriel Dias/BRA, T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda, +1m 02.180s
16 INT Max Chilton/GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, 17 laps
17 NAT Victor Correa/BRA, Litespeed-Mugen Honda, 17 laps
INT Wayne Boyd/GBR, T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen, 12 laps
INT Hywel Lloyd/GBR, CF Racing Dallara-Mugen Honda, 9 laps
INT Jay Bridger/GBR, Litespeed Mygale-Mugen Honda, 4 laps
INT Tandy 1m 35.879s / 106.71mph
NAT McKenzie 1m 37.711s / 104.71mph
PROVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS
INT 1 Ricciardo 89 points; 2 Grubmuller 74; 3 Tandy 68; 4 Ericsson 65; 5 Nakajima 57; 6 Chilton 54; 7= van der Zande & Christodoulou 53; 9 Buzaid 45; 10 Arundel 31 etc.
NAT 1 McKenzie 136; 2 Dias 87; 3 Correa 78; 4 Max Snegirev 64.
5 July Snetterton, Norfolk