DRIVER NEWS: Maro Engel finished the F3 season as he started it, with a fantastic win at the Rockingham Motor Speedway on Sunday. The 22 year-old German dominated proceedings; taking pole position, the race win and fastest lap in the final race of the 2007 season.
The Mercedes backed driver went to Rockingham having topped the time sheets in the official practice at the track two weeks previously. The weekend started well for Engel, who set the second fastest time in tricky conditions on Friday.
Qualifying for race one was a rather more chaotic affair, the drying track conditions meaning that the best times would be set at the very end of the session. Completing his final qualifying lap in the dying seconds of the session, Engel hit slow traffic which badly affected his time, meaning Engel could only manage the ninth fastest lap. Conditions improved for second qualifying, with Engel able to demonstrate his true pace on a dry track to take pole position for the season finale.
Engel uncharacteristically suffered a bad start in race one and was passed by Sebastian Hohenthal and Niall Breen on the first lap and dropped to 10th place. On lap two, team mate Alberto Valerio found a way past and Engel dropped to 11th place. Engel moved back to tenth when team mate Sam Bird retired with a broken drive shaft on lap six, the place he would maintain until the chequered flag.
As the lights went out for race two, it was second placed man Rodolfo Gonzalez who was first away from the line, although he was later dealt a drive through penalty for jumping the start – handing the race lead to Engel on lap six. From then on Engel dominated proceedings, pulling out a comfortable lead on team mate Sam Bird to take his third win of the season.
Reflection on the final race of the year, a delighted Engel said, “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. Obviously I’m disappointed not to have won the championship, but I think we’ve had a very strong season.
“I felt I had the pace to win the race and was surprised that Gonzalez had such a good start. I didn’t realise at first that he had jumped the start, although I suspected as much. I didn’t want to rely on him having a drive through penalty though and was pushing as hard as possible to catch him.
“I like to thank the team for all their hard work this season. The car was fantastic today, 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.”