TEAM NEWS: Carlin’s Sam Bird led a Carlin one two in the Romanian round of British F3 today, ahead of team mate Niall Breen. The Carlin rookies concluded a successful outing for the team, which saw the Hampshire based squad take home five trophies. Headed up by Alberto Valerio, Carlin also dominated Saturday’s standings, finishing second, third, fourth and fifth in race one.
Saturday’s race was incident packed, the race starting under the safety car due to difficult track conditions. As the safety car came in at the end of lap one, Valerio maintained his second position while Bird began pressurising third place man Sebastian Hohenthal. The young Brit put in an impressive overtaking maneuver on lap six to take third place and join Carlin team mate Valerio on the podium. With mayhem unfolding behind, Niall Breen picked his way through various incidents to cross the line fourth ahead of Maro Engel in fifth. Mario Moraes finished just out of the points in 11th.
Having looked strong all weekend, Brazilian Alberto Valerio again lined up second for race two, ahead of Maro Engel in fourth, Sam Bird in fifth, Niall Breen in seventh and Mario Moraes in 30th. The 2005 South American F3 champion was hopeful of going one better and taking his first BF3 win, but an incident with Stephen Jelly on lap three ended any hopes of victory.
Maro Engel also suffered a disappointing race, having come to Romania second in the standings. The 21 year-old German’s race was over early on, after an attempt to pass Mustonen resulted in the two drivers locking wheels and crashing out.
With Valerio and Engel now relegated to the back of the field, it was left to Carlin’s rookies to bring home the silver ware. 20 year-old Bird put in a stunning performance to take the lead and control the race, followed by team mate Breen who was busy holding off the attempts of pole sitter Stephen Jelley.
The only other remaining Carlin driver with a shot at the points was Mario Moraes, who was impressively making his way up the field. From 30th on the grid, the 18 year-old Brazilian had picked his way through the unfolding melee and was up to 10th by lap 12, the position he would maintain for the remainder of the race. Moraes consequently takes one point, some consolation for a challenging weekend.
Negotiating the twisting circuit and passing backmarkers, Bird and Breen demonstrated great race craft to cross the line first and second at the end of an eventful weekend, the race running to time rather than completing the full 24 laps.
Commenting on his first win in British F3, Bird said, “It’s just fantastic, I feel like all my Christmases have come at once! I saw people making mistakes ahead of me and was able to capitalise on that and make no mistakes myself. I’m delighted not only for myself, but also for the entire team who made this possible.”
Team Principal Trevor Carlin added, “Another fantastic result from the team. This was a great race for Sam and Niall, for two rookies to come to a brand new street circuit and perform so well is exceptional. Mario also put in a sterling drive from the back of the grid to take home a point. It’s very disappointing for Alberto and Maro who were also great this weekend. Pace wise, I think we could have been looking at a podium lock-out, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.
“The team have done a fantastic job here; to prepare for a new circuit, with no data and be on the pace right from the first lap on Friday is very impressive. Not only were we quick to begin with, but every car and driver has improved throughout the weekend, demonstrating how well the engineers and drivers work together. It’s a top class effort from the whole team.”