DRIVER NEWS: For the second meeting running, Dundalk’s Niall Breen was on the podium after Round 20 of the Lloyds TSB Insurance British International F3 Series at Croft Circuit on Sunday and once again the leading Carlin Motorsport driver in the race.
In the earlier Round 19, it looked as if Breen was also heading for the podium, but a first corner collision with his team mate Maro Engel as Niall challenged for second ended in tears as he locked up the wheels and both cars were sidelined.
Once again testing on Friday showed the Bar One Racing sponsored driver was clearly on the pace as he was second fastest. The 21-year old rookie took the closest possible third grid position for Round 19 qualifying on Saturday morning, a scant 0.005s behind Engel as championship leader Marko Asmer snatched pole position just ahead of the pair.
During the second qualifier, Breen again had to settle for third on the grid, this time having been eclipsed by Asmer and Jonathan Kennard.
The first race on Sunday saw Breen make a great start, racing wheel-to-wheel with Engel into the first corner behind Asmer. As Engel pushed his team mate out wide, Niall’s wheels locked in a cloud of tyre smoke, the pair tangling and sending them both out of the race.
However for Round 20 later on the afternoon, Breen was determined to get a good result and as the lights flicked green, made it past Kennard at the exit of the first corner to take second in pursuit of the newly-crowned champion, Asmer.
Once in second place, Breen was hot on Asmer’s heels, the 2006 Formula BMW Champion piling the pressure on the Estonian until midway through the race. When Breen’s tyres went off, Asmer was able to pull away slightly, increasing the gap between them to two seconds with Atte Mustonen even further back in third after third place Kennard went off.
As the 24-lap race ended, Asmer took the chequered flag to take his 10th win of the season with Breen taking a well-deserved second place, 3.289s behind and 5.758s clear of Mustonen. His fifth podium place elevated the Irishman back up to fifth place in the championship with the final two rounds to go at Rockingham on September 30th.
“I made a good start and didn’t get squeezed at the start of the second race! My rear tyres began to go off later on and I was sliding around and I also had a bit of trouble going down through the gears in certain corners. It was my fifth podium and fourth second place, and all thanks to my engineer, Jimmy, who’s back with me. I had a good test at Rockingham a couple of weeks ago, so it’s all to play for there”, said Breen.
With Asmer now champion with 272 points, Engel is still second with (186). Stephen Jelley (178) has moved up to third place ahead of Sam Bird (165), Breen (137) and Kennard (130) with the placings still to be decided at Rockingham.