TEAM NEWS: Carlin end season on a high with a 1-2 at Rockingham
TEAM NEWS: Carlin Motorsport finished the 2007 British F3 season on a high today, with a one-two at the Rockingham Circuit in Northamptonshire. Maro Engel led the squad home, ahead of the season’s top rookie Sam Bird, who took his tenth podium of the season. Alberto Valerio was the next Carlin driver across the line in sixth, followed by fellow Brazilian Mario Moraes in seventh and Niall Breen in ninth – meaning all five cars finished inside the top ten.
Earlier on in the day, the team enjoyed a successful race one, after a difficult first qualifying session. Four Carlin cars finished in the top ten, after making up several places from their qualifying positions. As the lights went out, Mario Moraes made the most of his second row grid slot to launch into third place. Team mate Sam Bird was close behind in sixth, while Niall Breen made up one place to take 10th, Maro Engel lost one place while Alberto Valerio maintained his 12th place into the first corner. BP driver Bird continued to make progress until a driveshaft failure resulted in retirement and the loss of a probable podium position.
Further down the field, Niall Breen and Alberto Valerio were fighting their own battles, Breen passing John Martin on lap nine for sixth place, while Valerio passed Stephen Jelley for eighth place. Breen and Valerio maintained their position to the chequered flag, with Maro Engel coming home tenth. Mario Moraes equalled his best finish of the season with a fifth place.
The weather remained dry for second race of the day and final race of the season, with Maro Engel on pole ahead of team mate Sam Bird in third. As the lights went out it was second place man Rodolfo Gonzalez who was away first, relegating Engel to second place. Valerio made up two places to take seventh place, while Mario Moraes was flying having made up five places to take the tenth spot. Niall Breen rounded off the Carlin squad in 11th at the end of lap one.
Continuing the good form that had seem him take fourth place in qualifying, Mario Moraes continued to charge through the field, finding a way past Stephen Jelley and Michael Devaney on lap two to take eighth place. Three laps later, Breen followed his team mate past the Mygale of Devaney to take the final points paying position.
With Gonzalez deemed to have made a false start, he was duly served a drive-through penalty, meaning Maro Engel took the lead on lap six, which also moved Bird to second, Valerio to sixth, Moraes to seventh and Breen to ninth. The order remained unchanged to the chequered flag.
A delighted Maro Engel commented, “I’m really happy, it was the perfect race. I think I dominated the race and really showed we had the pace to win, and it was really important to me to end the season like this. The car was fantastic, Matt, my engineer did a great job, as did my two mechanics and the whole team throughout the year. They deserve this win as much as I do.”
Officially taking the title of Rookie of the Year, Sam Bird said, “I’m delighted to be back on the podium, it’s been a while and this was a great way to finish the season. It was a real shame about the first race, and I’m disappointed not to the taken third in the championship. Maybe I’ll be back next year to claim the title overall.”
Team Principal Trevor Carlin added, “This is the best possible finish to the season. The team started and finished the season with a win. Obviously I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to win the championship and Sam was very unlucky not to reclaim third in the standings after a mechanical failure in race one today. All the drivers did well today; Maro and Sam obviously did well to finish on the podium and Mario deserves a special mention after a very strong weekend from him.
“The team have been brilliant all season and I would just like to say thank you to every team member of the fantastic job they have done this year. We’re already looking forward and preparing for next season when we will back stronger than ever.”