TEAM NEWS: Carlin Motorsport began the 2007 season with a win this weekend at Oulton Park, with 21 year-old Maro Engel taking the first victory of the season. Sam Bird also put in a great performance in his first weekend in BF3, crossing the line fourth in race one and sixth in race two.
It was a perfect start for Engel, who led from pole position and looked untouchable even during a safety car restart. Behind him, team mate Bird had a lightening start from sixth on the grid to make up two places, as did Alberto Valerio who moved from 12th to 10th place.
Meanwhile the team’s other F3 rookie Niall Breen, the Formula BMW UK Champion, bogged down at the start, losing a couple of places. From his starting place of 13th, Mario Moraes tangled with another car, and took an excursion into the gravel, but managed to rejoin the race. Positions remained unchanged for the remainder of race, with Engel crossing the line first and Bird putting in a courageous race to hold off Sebastian Hohenthal and score his first ever points in British F3, in fourth. Breen similarly scored two points on his debut, finishing ninth. Moraes lost track position after being forced to make a precautionary pit stop on lap two.
Conditions deteriorated for the second race of the day, with a fine mist of rain falling across the circuit in the afternoon. Race winner Engel lined up fifth on the grid, Bird seventh, Breen ninth, Valerio 12th and Moraes 13th. With just a few corners completed, the race was red flagged due to an incident mid field, and two further accidents on the restart resulted in a second red flag, also ending Valerio’s afternoon.
It was a case of third time lucky for the final restart of the day, the field getting away cleanly, with the race now limited to just 10 laps. Having climbed to third in the two previous race starts, Engel had to be happy to maintain his fifth position into the first corner. He was closely followed by team mate Sam Bird in sixth, who made up one place at the start. Engel and Bird maintained their positions to cross the line fifth and sixth, while Breen completed a strong weekend in his first outing in British F3, taking the final points paying position in 10th.
Team Principal, Trevor Carlin commented, “Maro’s win was the perfect way to start the season, he did a fantastic job and controlled the race from start to finish. Sam had a great F3 debut, as did Niall, taking away points in both races. Race two was a little messy, there was little chance to improve on starting positions with only 10 laps of the race remaining, so I think we have to happy to have walked away with three cars in the points.”
Race winner Maro Engel said, “It feels awesome to win the first race of the season, I couldn’t have asked for a better start, the guys gave me a perfect car. In race two, I had another good start, but there wasn’t really anywhere for me to go. That’s the problem when you have two re-starts, people know what you’re going to do and there’s just so little room on the grid that I couldn’t find a way past. “I really struggled in the second race when the fire extinguisher went off a few laps from the end, it went off in my face and I couldn’t see anything! So I’m very pleased with this fifth place, because I was driving with an open visor and couldn’t see where I was going.”
Commenting on his first BF3 race, Sam Bird said, “I’m really pleased, I wasn’t really happy with how I did in qualifying, but I was able to improve on our starting position in both races, so I’m happy. Overall my starts have been strong here and the races have gone well, I think we come away sixth in the championship, so I’m really looking forward to Donington Park.”