Jaime Alguersuari has set up a grandstand finish for the 2008 British F3 International Series by winning the penultimate round with a lights to flag victory. Brendon Hartley finished second with Oliver Turvey a distant third meaning his championship lead has been cut to just three points with one race to go. Henry Surtees took the win in the National Class on his British F3 debut after moving ahead of Jay Bridger at the start and holding off the new champion for the entire 29-lap race.
Jaime Alguersuari made the best of his pole position to lead the 24-car grid into the first corner with Brendon Hartley and Oliver Turvey following on behind. Dean Smith made a great start off the line to move ahead of Nick Tandy into the first corner and then set about challenging Turvey for third as the field came round to complete the first lap. In the National Class Henry Surtees had made the most of Jay Bridgers disappointing start to move ahead of the new champion, also moving ahead of Marcus Ericsson as well.
Lap 2 began with Alguersuari just ahead of Hartley, with the two Red Bull cars pulling out a gap to Turvey who was still under pressure from Smith. Sam Abay demoted Nick Tandy another place while Sergio Perez, who had made up three places on the opening lap, tried to pass Walter Grubmuller for 7th only to tangle with the Austrian at the last corner, putting Grubmuller into the wall and delaying himself in the process.
Alguersuari and Hartley continued to pull away from Turvey, the Spaniard setting the fastest lap of the race so far on lap 4, with Hartley responding by going quicker a lap later. Nick Tandy was fighting back, challenging Abay on the inside at McLeans but the Australian held the racing line and kept his place.
Alguersuari went even quicker on lap 10, breaking Marko Asmer’s lap record and then breaking it again on lap 11 as the Spanish driver started to pull away from his New Zealand teammate. Hartley tried to fight back but on lap 14 he outbraked himself going into the final corner and the gap, which had been less than a second for the first half of the race suddenly became over two seconds at the end of the lap. Oliver Turvey was now having a lonely race having shaken off the attentions of 4th placed Dean Smith he was slowly dropping back from Hartley and Alguersuari.
Henry Surtees now started to come under pressure from the recovering Jay Bridger, the British F3 debutee crossing the just 0.3 seconds ahead of the champion. However Surtees wasn’t go to give ground easily and for lap after lap soaked up the pressure to keep control of the race.
Sergio Perez came into the pits to change tyres, the Mexican rejoining for a few laps before returning to the pits to retire, the clash with Grubmuller evidently causing some problems with his T Sport Dallara.
As the race entered the final few laps the leaders started to lap backmarkers who were emboiled in their own races. This allowed Hartley to close the gap to Alguersuari and teh Spanish driver made his feelings known to some of the lapped cars who clearly hadn’t responded to the blue flags quickly enough. On the penultimate lap the Spaniard was again held up and the two Red Bull cars were nose to tail through McLeans with Hartley looking to pounce in the dying stages of the race. However Jaime Alguersuari was driving like a champion and defended his position for th enext lap and by the time the chequered flag came out he was nearly a second ahead of his teammate. Oliver Turvey crossed the line a further seven seconds up the road but well ahead of Dean Smith, who scored a creditable 4th place finish on his British F3 debut ahead of Sam Abay and Nick Tandy.
Henry Surtees was obviously delighted with his fighting debut win ahead of Jay Bridger, with Adriano Buzaid also scoring a podium on his British F3 debut, finishing well ahead of race winner Stefan Wilson.
Jaime Alguersuari had closed the points gap to Oliver Turvey to just three points with the English driver starting twelve places further back on the grid in the final race. Brendon Hartley’s championship hopes were over but he still celebrated his 11th podium finish of the season.
Race winner Alguersuari said, “I’m happy to have won the first race. I felt I had the pace to be able to win, so I was concentrating on getting into the first corner first. We had a few problems with traffic towards the end of the race, which allowed Brendon to catch me, but fortunately I was able to keep the lead and win.”
Championship leader Turvey said, “I didn’t get the best start as I had some wheel spin off the line and didn’t have quite enough pace to keep up with Jaime and Brendon in the early stages. I’m starting too far behind in the second race but I’ll give it everything I’ve got.”
Round 21: Result
1 – 4 – INT – Jaime ALGUERSUARI – ESP – 30:03.648 – 29 laps
2 – 3 – INT – Brendon HARTLEY – NZL – +0.813s
3 – 17 – INT – Oliver TURVEY – GBR – +7.544s
4 – 7 – INT – Dean SMITH – GBR – +9.439s
5 – 18 – INT – Sam ABAY – AUS – +9.859s
6 – 28 – INT – Nick TANDY – GBR – +10.610s
7 – 26 – INT – Atte MUSTONEN – FIN – +20.509s
8 – 8 – INT – Marcus ERICSSON – SWE – +21.147s
9 – 42 – NAT – Henry SURTEES – GBR – +33.340s
10 – 50 – NAT – Jay BRIDGER – GBR – +33.495s
11 – 6 – INT – Henry ARUNDEL – GBR – +34.524s
12 – 24 – INT – John MARTIN – AUS – +36.083s
13 – 85 – INV – Oliver OAKES – GBR – +36.499s
14 – 43 – NAT – Adriano BUZAID – BRA – +37.353s
15 – 51 – NAT – Stefan WILSON – GBR – +50.254s
16 – 84 – INV – Clemente FARIA Jnr – BRA – +1 lap
17 – 53 – NAT – Steven GUERRERO – COL – +1 lap
18 – 52 – NAT – Hywel LLOYD – GBR – +1 lap
19 – 57 – NAT – Callum MacLEOD – GBR – +1 lap
20 – 14 – INT – Philip MAJOR – CAN – +1 lap
21 – 1 – INT – Max CHILTON – GBR – +2 laps
22 – 61 – NAT – Jonathan LEGRIS – GBR – +6 laps
DNF – 9 – INT – Sergio PEREZ – MEX – +9laps
DNF – 2 – INT – Walter GRUBMULLER – AUT – +19 laps
4 – INT – Jamie ALGUERSUARI – ESP – 1:01.375 – 114.80mph – 184.76kph ** New Lap Record**
50 – NAT – Jay BRIDGER – GBR – 1:02.346 – 113.02mph – 181.88kph
85 – INV – Oliver OAKES – GBR – 1:02.168 – 113.34mph – 182.40kph