||Round 6 Press Conference (Championship Class) - Sam Bird, Niall Breen, Stephen Jelley
CLICK HERE to listen to the National Class Press Conference
Sam Bird headed a Carlin 1-2 in Round 6 of the 2007 Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series, becoming the third different winner and the first Rookie to take a win this season. Niall Breen was second, with pole man Stephen Jelley coming home in third after dropping back following an incident with Alberto Valerio in Turn 1.
Sergio Perez scored his second win of the year in the National Class, ahead of Viktor Jensen, who stormed through from the back of the grid and 'Frankie' Cheng, who leaves Bucharest with some points after suffering in qualifying and the first race.
ROUND 6 - RACE
As in race one, the start was held behind the safety car, which led the 28 strong grid around the 3.1km Bucharest circuit before releasing them on lap 3. As the green flag was waved the field had stung out with Stephen Jelley (#1 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) pulling away from Alberto Valerio (#22 Carlin Motorsport).
Further back Michael Devaney (#15 Ultimate Motorsport) challenged Marko Asmer (#7 Hitech Racing) into the first corner, with the Irishman muscling the Mygale past the Estonian on the inside to take 10th, one place behind his teammate.
At the end of the first lap at race speed it was Jelley just ahead of the closing Valerio, who was ahead of Atte Mustonen (#26 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) and Maro Engel (#23 Carlin Motorsport). As the leaders crossed the line Valerio made a move on Jelley, braking late on the inside of Jelley. The Double R driver took the racing line into the corner and was collected by the Brazilian forcing both cars down the escape road and promoting Mustonen into the race lead. However the Finns moment of glory was short lived as he and Engel approached the chicane. Engel went down the inside of Mustonen, getting alongside the Finn as they entered the corner but Mustonen turned in, squeezing the Carlin Motorsport Dallara up against the wall and forcing both cars into retirement.
The race continued under waved yellows as the marshals snatched the two cars off the track in good order. It was now the turn of Sam Bird (#3 Carlin Motorsport) who took the lead, two seconds ahead of Niall Breen (#21 Carlin Motorsport) and Stephen Jelley, who had recovered to regain the track following the clash with Valerio.
Bird started to pull away from Breen as the laps counted down, with Jelley 1.5 seconds behind Breen. Sean Petterson (#12 Fluid Motorsport) clashed with Viktor Jenson (#37 ADR), with the South African losing half of his front wing, forcing him into the pits for a new nosecone. The two Ultimate Motorsport Mygale’s of Esteben Guerrieri and Michael Devaney were running 5th and 6th until Guerrieri came into the pits after dropping back on track. The team got to work on the problem and he regained the track 1 lap down but still running.
Marko Asmer was also having a hard time as he tried to find a way past Rodolfo Gonzalez (#9 T Sport) but the Venezuelan was defending his position aggressively. The battling pair were soon caught by John Martin (#24 ADR) and the reigning Australian Formula Ford Champion waited for a passing opportunity to present itself. He didn’t have to wait long as Asmer was squeezed by Gonzalez on lap 11 and as they ran wide Martin nipped through on the inside overtaking both cars at a stroke.
Back at the front Bird continued to pull away from Breen and by lap 13 he was over five second ahead but then this advantage was nullified when the Safety Car boards were displayed. Hamad Al Fardan (#38 Performance Racing) clipped the wall, with the unfortunate Michael Meadows (#55 Newnet Raikkonen Robertson Racing) and Albert Costa (#36 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) getting caught up in the accident. The stranded cars were removed under the Safety Car and three laps later racing resumed.
Sam Bird leapt away at the start to open up a two second gap by lap 18, with Irishman able to do the same over third placed Jelley, who had Martin just 0.4 seconds behind him.
In the National Class Sergio Perez was leading the way but had Alistair Jackson (#35 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) breathing down his neck. The Mexican found himself on the losing end of an overtaking move but by the end of the lap had regained the place from Jackson. Jackson’s race ended a lap later when an incident involving Francesco Castellacci (#8 ADR) ended both drivers races.
Bird crossed the line with just two seconds showing on the clock so the field had to complete another lap but this just delayed the delight shown by the Englishman as he crossed the line to secure his first win in British F3 and become the third different winner in six races. Niall Breen came home to secure a Carlin 1-2 and equally his best performance in the series so far. A disappointed Stephen Jelley was third but knew that the race should’ve been his but for the incident with Valerio at the start of the race. John Martin was 4th, the best finish so far for the Australian, and Marko Asmer and Michael Devaney rounding out the top six. The fastest lap of the race went to Devaney, underlining the progress Mygale and Ultimate Motorsport are making with the brand new Formula 3 chassis.
Marko Asmer (105) now holds a commanding 47 point lead over second placed Stephen Jelley (58), with Sam Bird (51) moving up to 3rd place ahead of Maro Engel (50).
In the National Class Sergio Perez took the chequered flag for the second time this year, with Viktor Jensen securing another podium finish from 26th on the grid. ‘Frankie’ Cheng ended a bad weekend with a smile as he took the final podium position, which moves him back to the top of the National Class drivers table with 76 points, 5 points ahead of Sergio Perez (71) and the non finishing Michael Meadows (68) who took the 1 point for the fastest lap of the race.
Sam Bird: "I said the weight had been lifted of my shoulders after yesterday and I think today proved it. I'm lost for words really. The people in front of me made some mistakes and I was able to capitilise. I then just pulled away; I couldn't ask for any more. For me it's been fantastic weekend and I think everybody in the Formula 3 Paddock will come away with smiles on their faces. It's been a fantastic event; the organisers have been superb, they've done such a good job and I'd like to thank everybody here for putting this event on. Hopefully, if I do British F3, I just hope this will be on the calendar."
Niall Breen: "I just took it easy for the first couple of laps, then I got Sebastian Hohenthal on the second lap into the second corner. I was up to second and I tried catching Sam (Bird) but I thought second is better than ending up in the wall; just collected the points. I put myself on the backfoot when we first practiced and I crashed on my second lap, so I've been playing catch up all weekend, so to get a podium is a good result."
Stephen Jelley: "It was a bit of a silly thing to do really, we started under the safety car for a reason because it was really slippery and he (Valerio) came from a long way back and it just wasn't there. I managed to recover and when it all kicked off at the second corner I just nipped through into 3rd place, so it was a bit of a loss but it was good to come away with some points.
Sergio Perez: "I started 8th but I just let the Championship cars through because I didn't want to fight with them and after the safety car Alistair Jackson was right behind me. In the second chicane there was a yellow flag so I slowed down a lot and I think he didn't brake and he overtook me there. But two laps from the end I overtook him and then he had an accident. The team have done a perfect job, we have been working very hard and we are going to keep working hard to win the championship.”
The Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series now moves back to the UK with Rounds 7 & 8 at Snetterton in Norfolk on 3rd June before heading off to Italy and the fast straights of Monza on June 24th.
CLICK HERE for the Results from Round 6
CLICK HERE for Championship Positions following Round 6