Hitech Racing dominated the latest two rounds of the Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series at Donington Park as its Estonian driver Marko Asmer scored lights to flag victories, extending his championship lead to 34 points after just four rounds of the series.
In the first race he powered away from the rest of the field and pulled out a good lead over second placed Stephen Jelley before the safety car was called out on lap three. His team-mate, Walter Grubmüller was not so fortunate, losing two places off the line. He was then forced wide as the field turned into McLeans halfway round the opening lap, sending him across the gravel trap to rejoin in 25th place.
As the lights went green again, Marko had to contend with an early challenge from Jelley, before he was able to pull out a comfortable lead. At the other end of the field, Walter started to fight his way back through the pack, taking just a handful of laps to get back up to 18th place before eventually working his way up to 14th by the time the chequered flag fell.
In the closing stages Marko had his only real pressure of the weekend, when he was baulked by a back marker, allowing Jelley to close right onto the gearbox of the Dallara F307 Mercedes HWA. However, the Buckingham-based racer was able to cover his racing line as the pair charged up to McLeans and kept the lead for the remaining half lap to pick up his second race win of the season.
As the cars formed on the grid for the second race a brief rain shower made conditions tricky around various parts of the Leicestershire circuit. However, another fantastic start allowed Asmer to dive into the first corner with a good lead, which he extended to almost five seconds over the course of the 30-minute race. This time, though, he was able to scythe through the back markers in the closing stages to take yet another race win, just missing out on maximum points by failing to set fastest lap.
Grubmüller’s race started out well as he moved up to sixth place on the opening lap and he looked to be in contention for a superb points finish in only his second British F3 event. However, he was caught out by Jelley, who tried to go round the outside of the Austrian as they went through Craner Curves on lap four. The contact spun Walter onto the wet grass on the outside of the circuit and straight into the tyre wall, causing a large amount of damage to the car and ending the rookie’s weekend prematurely.
David Hayle: “It’s been almost a perfect weekend in one way. Marko took two wins from two pole positions and his driving when he came up against the back-markers showed great maturity, especially in the first race where he found himself under pressure on the last lap. We know that we need to enjoy the result now though as it’s a long season and we know it’s going to be incredibly tough.”
“Walter had an unfortunate two races, but his qualifying performance was exceptional. To be just half a second away from Marko, who is setting the pace, is fantastic and he got two great grid positions. He was unlucky to be taken out of the second race. Unfortunately, sometimes this happens. But, we’ll take the experience with us to the next round and try again.”
Marko Asmer: Car #7 “It’s been an almost perfect weekend for me! The margin of the win in both races could have been bigger, but I struggled with the back-markers. It’s a hazard of being the first to get to the lapped cars, but the car was great and I was able to get past easily enough once they were aware I was there. I pushed hard for the first few laps in the second race and once I had a lead I could relax. It’s good to score maximum points and to move further ahead in the championship. But, it’s still the start of the season and there is a long way to go.”
Walter Grubmüller: Car #6 “It’s been a frustrating weekend for me. I had two good qualifying positions and to come away from both races without any solid results is disappointing. In the second race it was really slippery after the rain had finished and Stephen Jelley tried to pass me on the outside at the Craner Curves and tagged me, putting me onto the grass and into a spin into the barriers. I’m going to take the experience of the weekend away with me to the next round at Bucharest and will see what I can achieve there.”