RD5 RACE: Asmer Wins First Ever Race Held in Bucharest
Post Race Press Conference with Marko Asmer, Alberto Valerio and Sam Bird.
CLICK HERE to listen to the National Class Post Race Press Conference
With the Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series having the first race of the weekend, Marko Asmer has become the first driver ever to win a race in Bucharest. The Estonian took the chequered flag in a race dominated by safety car periods ahead of Carlin Motorsport teammates Alberto Valerio and Sam Bird.
Mike Meadows scored another victory, his second of the season, after poleman Alistair Jackson had an incident with Jonathan Kennard force the Northern Irish driver into retirement. Sergio Perez was a close second, ahead of Hamad Al Fardan, the first visit to the podium for the Bahraini driver.
The 24 lap race was started under the safety car due to the track conditions following an earlier qualifying session and for two laps the 30 car grid circulated a slow speed weaving to try and get some heat into their slick Avon tyres.
At the end of the second lap the race went green and Asmer pulled ahead of Valerio, who had Hohenthal and Bird climbing all over his rear wing as they exited the first corner at racing speed, with Bird going very wide on the exit but despite hopping over the kerbs he maintained his pace. National Class pole position holder Alistair Jackson was the first casualty of the race when he tangled with his Raikkonen Robertson teammate Jonathan Kennard and his race ended before it had even begun. Kennard was able to continue.
By the end of lap 4 Asmer had opened up a 2.8 second gap to the chasing pack, with four tenths separating the three cars fighting for second. Meanwhile further down the grid Esteban Guerrieri was moving up from his 14th position on the grid, picking off Michael Meadows on lap 5.
On lap 6 there was disaster for Hohenthal as Bird made a move on the Swede at the penultimate corner. Bird got alongside his rival and attempted to out brake the Fortec driver into the sharp left hander. Hohenthal locked up and the car stepped out. As he tried to recover the slide he was collected by the unlucky Greg Mansell who was following behind his teammate, who was in turn hit by Michael Devaney in the second Ultimate Mygale. Devaney was able to extract his car from the tangle but the two Fortec Dallara’s were locked together.
The Safety Car was deployed to allow the safe recovery of the wreckage and for six laps the cars once again circulated at medium speed.
Racing recommenced on Lap 11 and Asmer once again started to pull away from Valerio, who now had Bird challenging him at every corner. However the Safety Car board was once again shown before the lap was completed. ‘Frankie’ Cheng had been running down to the penultimate corner on the left hand side of the track with Leo Mansell and Francesco Castellacci on the right hand side when the Chinese driver brushed the concrete wall and the Performance Racing Dallara speared across the track right into the path of the unfortunate Mansell, who had no where to go. He was then collected by the equally unfortunate Castellacci and all three drivers were out of the race.
A further three laps under the Safety Car meant that the race was going to be called at 30-minutes rather than 24 laps and when the race went green for the third time Asmer led a two lap sprint to the flag.
Esteban Guerrieri used the restart to move further up the grid in the Mygale, forcing his way past on the inside of Jonathan Kennard in the first corner to secure 8th.
At the chequered flag it was Asmer who waved his finger in the air as he crossed the line, with an equally pleased Alberto Valerio taking his second podium finish in British F3 and the first at his new Carlin team. Carlin Motorpsort claimed a double podium as Sam Bird scored his first top 3 finish in British F3.
Michael Meadows, who inherited the lead of the National Class from his Raikkonen Robertson teammate Ali Jackson, drove a solid race and finished 0.3 seconds ahead of a charging Sergio Perez, who scored his third podium finish in a row. Hamad Al Fardan was equally pleased with his first British F3 podium finish and will hope for something similar in Round 6, which he starts in second place. Meadows now holds a three point advantage over Cheng at the head of the championship table.
The afternoon belonged to Mark Asmer and with four wins on the trot now holds a commanding 47 point advantage over Maro Engel who finished 5th in the race.
Marko Asmer: “The race wasn’t that fantastic, we didn’t get many racing laps, but still it was good for me. The organisers and Romania have done a fantastic job to make this circuit. I really like it and I enjoy it. I managed to pull away in the first laps and I had a good restart after the next safety car, so he (Valerio) was even close enough to try to pass, so no I wasn’t under any pressure. The championship is looking good and we will keep trying to get as many points as possible.”
Michael Meadows: “I had Gonzalez and Moraes behind me and after the Safety Car I let them go because I didn’t need that kind of pressure. I had do a bit of defending from Sergio (Perez) but nothing major, just put my car in the middle of the road and it was OK. It’s good to sign for Double R and get the weekend off to a good start with a win.”
Round 6 will take place at 10:45 local (08:45 BST) tomorrow morning.