NATO STORMS TO MAIDEN WIN
Frenchman powers to victory in feature
Frenchman powers to victory in feature
Event: 03 Pau
Session: Race 1
Track: Pau / France
Pole position: Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam)
Race winner: Ben Barnicoat (HitechGP)
Weather: rain, 13.4 °C
At a rain-soaked track in Pau, Ben Barnicoat (HitechGP) scored his second FIA Formula 3 European Championship race win. At the start, the British rookie driver took the lead and celebrated an undisputed victory after 24 laps. Behind him, Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam) beat Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam) to take the flag in second place. In the drivers’ standings, Günther extended his victory to eleven points from Cassidy. After his second win from as many races, Barnicoat moved up to fourth place in the drivers’ standings. The HitechGP driver also moved up into the lead of the rookie standings.
Pole-sitter Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam) already saw his hopes of a podium finish fade away at the start. The Canadian had a poor getaway and returned from the opening lap down in ninth place. Ben Barnicoat used the opportunity and took the lead. Maximilian Günther, Nick Cassidy, George Russell (Hitech GP) and Callum Ilott (Van Amersfoort Racing) followed suit. Especially in the first few laps, leader Barnicoat clearly was the fastest driver in the field and extended his margin from second-placed Günther lap after lap. On lap eight, with Barnicoat already over five seconds ahead of Günther, Zhi Cong Li spun into the Armco barriers and caused the only safety car intervention of the race.
After the restart, Cassidy directly mounted an attack on Günther and thus took over second place. However, the driver from New Zealand never was in a position to challenge Barnicoat’s victory. At the flag, the Brit had a margin of more than two seconds on the Prema Powerteam driver. Maximilian Günther concluded the seventh race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season in third place from Russell, Ilott, Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Ryan Tveter (Carlin), Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark), Stroll and Alessio Lorandi (Carlin). 16-year-old David Beckmann (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) finished 17th in his maiden FIA Formula 3 European Championship race.
Ben Barnicoat (HitechGP): “I am really happy with my first place. Rain had already been forecast for a long time, which suits me very well. At the start, I was able to move up into the lead and I managed to pull clear from the rest of the field during the first few laps. Unfortunately, then, the safety car came out. When Nick was behind me after the restart, things got a little more difficult, because he was quicker than Maximilian had been before. I concentrated to avoid any mistakes and I succeeded.”
Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam): “My race was good and I am very happy with my second place in my first race at Pau. Initially, I was behind Maximilian, but I had to wait until the restart after the safety car to overtake him. The move wasn’t without any risk, especially in these conditions, but it worked out.”
Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam): “My start was good and I moved up into second place. However, I wasn’t able to follow Ben, who was in front of me, and then Nick overtook me after the safety car. Then, I tried to bring the points for third place home. The fact that I am still leading the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings makes me happy, but it doesn’t really play a major role for me. The thing that counts, however, is being on top at the end of the season.”
This weekend, the young FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers will take part in a special highlight: the Grand Prix de Pau. In the event held on the 2.76-kilometre-long street circuit located in the heart of the city of Pau with its 80,000 citizens, Formula 3 has been the main attraction for many years and this year, this tradition-rich event celebrates its 75th anniversary. Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam) travels to the Southern-French circuit located at the foot of the Pyrenees as championship leader while rookie Anthoine Hubert (Van Amersfoort Racing) represents the French colours on the FIA Formula 3 European Championship grid, thus being the local hero. Meanwhile, German newcomer David Beckmann (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) will make his first appearance in the series.
The FIA Formula 3 European Championship rounds at Pau’s tight and twisty circuit are among the highlights of every season. Last year, Prema driver Jake Dennis won two of the three races, with the third win having been secured by Antonio Giovinazzi who raced for Team Jagonya Ayam with Carlin. The only driver of this year’s field who made it to the podium was Maximilian Günther. In the third race of the weekend – the official GP de Pau – the 18-year old German finished second. Meanwhile, Lance Stroll and Arjun Maini (ThreeBond with T-Sport) came close to making it to the podium in 2015 but in the end, they both had to settle for having finished fourth, in one of the races. Now, both the 18-year-old Indian and the Canadian, who is one year younger, want to up the ante by achieving the goal they didn’t last year: a top-three result in Pau.
A driver who knows how it feels to win on the streets of Pau is Anthoine Hubert. The 19-year-old who lives in Chartres, between Paris and Le Mans, won both Formula Renault Alps 2.0 rounds held at Pau last year and definitely would love to repeat this success in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, this year. In addition to his regular rivals, he also will have to take on a new opponent: German David Beckmann is going to contest his first FIA Formula 3 European Championship weekend. The now 16-year old young gun, best rookie in the 2015 ADAC Formula 4 season, celebrated his birthday just a few days ago and now has the minimum age for racing in the category. So he combines his Formula 3 debut and his first races on a street circuit at Pau.
Arjun Maini (ThreeBond with T-Sport): “Pau is a fantastic circuit. It definitely is one of my favourite racetracks. It’s such a tight circuit and nonetheless, we are racing here at speeds of 200kph and more – just incredible. Last year was my first race weekend in Pau and things ran well for me right from the start. I hope that I will be able to also secure good results this year. On the first two race weekends, at Le Castellet and in Hungary, we had problems with our car but we think we have them solved, now. Therefore, I hope that we will be more competitive, in Pau and will be able to battle it out at the front end of the field.“
Part of the Formula 1 calendar from 1980 to 2006, the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari is a counter-clockwise and very technical circuit that doesn’t allow for a moments respite with its chicanes and complex strings of corners. To get a handle on this challenge, the competitors will have three 55-minutes collective tests ahead of the weekend qualifying and races.
A four-way battle for the PRO leader spot
With just one race on the programme, the battle for the driver selection test organised by the official Super GT NISMO team promises to heat up. Lewis Williamson (Strakka Racing) comes into the weekend on point in the classification, but Kevin Korjus (R-ace GP), Markus Palttala (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) and Nicky Pastorelli (V8 Racing) will all try to wrestle the lead away from him.
Pieter Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur) will be looking to win in order to stay in contention, as will Roy Geerts (V8 Racing) and David Fumanelli (Oregon Team), who finished just off the podium in Spain. For their part, Raoul Owens (R-ace GP), Tanart Sathienthirakul (Team Marc VDS EG 0,0) and Meindert van Buuren (V8 Racing) all want to get back in the hunt.
The weekend will however already be crucial for Bruno Bonifacio (Oregon Team), Anders Fjordbach (High Class Racing) and 2015 Prestige category champion, Dario Capitanio (Oregon Team), all of whom left Spain empty-handed. Englishman Josh Webster (V8 Racing), who has titles in both the Formula Renault BARC and in the British Porsche Carrera Cup, will debut in place of Jordan Grogor, who will be in action at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix.
Success for the N°36 Alpine A460 after a breath-taking fight that went down to the wire at the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
A forceful last stint from Nicolas Lapierre rounded off the work of his team-mates Stéphane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes.
The run of the N°35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine car in the hands of Nelson Panciatici / David Cheng / Ho-Pin Tung was halted just before the finish because of damage incurred in a collision with a backmarker.
In contrast to the wintry weather encountered at Silverstone, the FIA WEC teams enjoyed summery weather at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, where the championship’s regulars kicked off the race at 2:30pm local time in front of a packed house.
The N°36 Signatech-Alpine started from second place on the LMP2 grid, while the N°35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine car lined up in 10th position after Spa rookie David Cheng’s ‘out’ lap during qualifying was spoiled by a red flag incident. By the time the green flag reappeared, his tyres had cooled down excessively for his flying lap when he was also hindered by traffic.
During the early part of the race, both Alpine A460s set a strong pace while also complying with the fuel and tyre management recommendations of the team’s engineers.
The first two hours saw the N°36 car defend third place as the N°35 prototype fought its way up the field in the hands of Nelson Panciatici, who was succeeded at the wheel by Ho-Pin Tung. By the halfway point (three hours), the N°36 Alpine was running second and the sister car was up to fourth!
Stéphane Richelmi lost a little ground in a spin after he was hit by the N°7 Audi but he was still second when he handed over to Gustavo Menezes who inherited the class lead when the leading car made a mistake.
The N°36 Alpine A460 continued at a strong pace to build up a handsome cushion over its chasers. The N°35 machine fell back, however, when it was issued with a ‘drive through’ penalty after two airguns had been used simultaneously during a pit stop.
There was a dramatic conclusion to the six-hour classic when the Safety Car was despatched shortly before the start of the final hour due to a GT car which had smashed into the guardrail at Eau Rouge.
The ensuing queue saw the leading car’s margin slashed to nothing, while the N°35 Alpine lost a lap due to its position on the track relative to the Safety Car. When racing resumed, Nicolas Lapierre succeeded in pulling clear once more but he was compelled to make one last ‘splash and dash’ refuelling stop with around 10 minutes remaining.
The Frenchman re-joined in second place behind rival Derani and the two drivers were soon battling again. The Alpine driver recovered his lead thanks to a daring passing manoeuvre with the chequered flag in sight!
While the team was celebrating the move, the N°35 car was reported to be running slowly with a puncture and broken rear suspension followinga collision with a backmarker, an incident which ended up side-lining Nelson Panciatici for good.
Meanwhile, Nicolas Lapierre kept his head to collect Alpine’s second victory at world championship level after the team’s success at the 2015 6 Hours of Shanghai. The result at in Belgium was the first win for the new Alpine A460.
Saturday’s result promoted Lapierre / Menezes / Richelmi to the top of the provisional Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers classification, equal on points with Senna / Albuquerque / Gonzalez after two rounds.
The team’s next public appearance will be the official pre-Le Mans 24 Hours Test Day on Sunday, June 5, ahead of the calendar’s showpiece itself on June 18-19.
Edoardo Mortara is the first winner of the 2016 DTM season. With his Audi RS 5 DTM, the Italian won Saturday afternoon’s opening race at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg in dominant style. Mortara already laid the foundation for his fourth DTM race win at the start, in which he moved up into the lead from second place on the grid. In an action-packed and thrilling race with many position battles, Mortara’s lead was never in jeopardy. Second place in the 40 minutes’ race went to Robert Wickens. With his Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM, the Canadian took the chequered flag 1.6 seconds after the winner. There was also huge joy for the man in third place: Nico Müller, who started from pole position, scored his first podium finish in the DTM. Bruno Spengler became the best-placed BMW driver in the first race of the season. With his BMW M4 DTM, the 2012 DTM champion finished sixth.
In temperatures around 28 degrees, the action was particularly hot in the opening stages of the race. In best touring car racing style, there were battles for every position and not always without damage. From the 24 cars that took the start, 16 made it to the finish after 25 laps. Among the most prominent drivers to retire were Timo Scheider and Timo Glock, for whom the race was over after the first (Scheider) and the second (Glock) lap respectively. For Mike Rockenfeller, who competed in his 100th DTM race, the season opener came to an early end as well.
After the first of 18 season races, winner Edoardo Mortara is in the lead with 25 points. Robert Wickens and Nico Müller are second and third with 18 and 15 points respectively. Audi is leading in the manufacturers’ standings with 43 points from Mercedes-Benz (40 points) and BMW (18 points). The second DTM race at Hockenheim starts on Sunday afternoon at 14:30 hrs. The starting grid positions will be determined in qualifying from 12:30 hrs.