CF Racing’s Zheng doubles up in National Class
Honours were shared yesterday between Fortec Motorsports and Carlin as Will Buller and Jordan King took victories in race one and race two of the second round of the 2013 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series. CF Racing’s Sun Zheng was the man to beat in the National Class, taking both race wins from the pair of chasing West-Tec entries.
Buller masterful in wet first race at Spa
Fortec Motorsports’ Will Buller showed his experience in a dominant display in race one of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Spa-Francorchamps, coming from the fourth row on the grid to take his second win of the season. Sun Zheng took his maiden National Class victory after a race long battle with West-Tec’s Jordan Oon.
A heavy downpour descended upon the circuit an hour before the 30-minute race was scheduled to start and Buller seized the opportunity to increase his championship lead; pole-sitter Nicholas Latifi crashed out late-on after a collision with Carlin team-mate Jann Mardenborough at the famous Eau Rouge corner.
As is often the case at Spa, La Source, the hairpin first corner, was the scene of bunching of the ranks, and Felipe Guimaraes’s Fortec Dallara fell victim to this on the opening lap. A strong start from Double R Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Sean Gelael saw them progress from their grid positions, but the Italian went too deep at the hairpin, forcing Jordan King wide too as the Carlin man was on his outside.
Gelael nipped through the middle, following the line taken by Latifi, Buller and a pacey Mardenborough, but it was Latifi who lead into Eau Rouge, before a bold more off the racing line in the middle of the left-right-left corner, saw the driver from County Down take the lead of the race, a position that was never really challenged.
King, making his way through the field after a less than ideal start to his first lap was soon past Latifi and try as he might, King couldn’t achieve the same pace as Buller; the wet conditions not helping his cause, and the gap extended to over four seconds.
NISMO athlete Mardenborough continued to impress in his maiden year of single-seaters, a good battle emerging between he, Gelael and Latifi in the middle of the race. Gelael was hot on the heels of the young Brit and after overtaking him for fourth, the Nissan GT Academy star was back past two thirds of a lap later.
On what would be the penultimate racing lap of the race, Latifi lost ground to Mardenborough and Gelael after a poor exit of the Bus Stop chicane. The two Carlin team-mates fought hard, with the British driver narrowly getting ahead on the run dow to Eau Rouge. The pair then collided in the middle of the high-speed corner, with Mardenborough taking off over Latifi’s rear wheel, landing upside down and sliding into the barriers at Raidillon. Both drivers emerged unhurt, quite unlike their cars. Mardenborough’s car was deemed fixable for race two, Latifi’s not.
A safety car period followed and the final racing lap was a procession to the flag, with Buller exerting the experience amassed in F3 over his rivals with aplomb.
CF Racing’s Sun Zheng led the three-car National class battle from start to finish, the Chinese driver taking his first class win of the year ahead of Team West-Tec duo Jordan Oon and Chris Vlok. Oon did take the class lead briefly, but Zheng who admitted struggling with tyres temperatures throughout the race, re-took his lead shortly after.
Vlok had a brief battle with Giovinazzi after the Italian pitted to fix a faulty rear light, but spent the majority of his race chasing his team-mate as he learnt the circuit on this his first visit to Spa-Francorchamps.
Will Buller #3 Fortec Motorsports (Race Winner)
“We had a difficult day yesterday with suspension issues. The race was good, I like the wet here and I’ve won here before, so I was feeling confident. I got into the lead and pulled out a nice gap. The car was great and I’m really looking forward to the race later, I think we’ll be strong now whatever the weather. I’ll start eighth in the next race, but I came from seventh in this one, so I’m pretty use to it!”
King victorious in Spa second race, as Zheng doubles up in the national class
The day’s earlier race was a similarly wet affair and Jordan King had to work hard for his second win of the Cooper Tires British F3 Inernational Series at Spa-Francorchamps. The Carlin racer battled from seventh on the grid to win and was engaged in a fascinating fight for the race lead until the flag. Sun Zheng asserted his authority in the National Class taking yet another convincing win from West-Tec’s Jordan Oon.
After making a rapid start in wet conditions off the reverse grid, King overtook a number of his rivals before La Source, but it was Double R Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi that took the lead from fourth on the grid, followed by a rejuvenated Tatiana Calderon, also a fellow Double R driver, with King third.
Race one victor and championship leader Will Buller started eighth on the grid, but was up to fifth by the end of lap one, tucked inside the third Double R Racing car of Indonesian, Sean Gelael.
When the rain clouds moved on, race leader Giovinazzi’s tyres began to overheat and he was quickly picked off by first King, then Buller as they went on to battle closely over the final half of the race, with King narrowly holding off the Fortec man’s challenge, crossing the line just 0.5s ahead.
Behind them Giovinazzi held on to take his second podium of the season, ahead of team-mates Calderon and Gelael. Jann Mardenborough struggled in his Volkswagen-powered Carlin-Dallara after his earlier incident in race one, the Nissan GT Academy star is confident the car will be back to it’s best for tomorrow’s third and final race of the weekend.
Felipe Guimaraes had a lonely race after starting from the back of the grid. Having battled through the National Class entrants, the Brazilian set about chasing after Mardenborough’s Carlin machine, but he didn’t make the inroads he would’ve liked into his International Class rival.
For the second time today CF Racing’s Sun Zheng won the National Class with a storming drive after an early off at Poulon. The Chinese driver first got past pole-sitter Chris Vlok, before a more taxing scrap with Vlok’s West-Tec team-mate Jordan Oon. Once past Oon, Zheng marched into the distance, taking the flag eleven seconds ahead of the West-Tec pair.
Jordan King – Carlin (International Class Winner)
“Starting seventh it was a bit crazy at the first corner. I got through the field and got into field, then second not as soon as I’d like, and then got an opportunity for the lead which I took. I don’t know if Will and I had different downforce, but it was so hard to pull away from him, so on a few ocassions I had to just park it on the apex. I’d pull away and he was straight back onto me. I knew he’d have a go on the last lap and I think we did touch, I had to go defensive, but it was fine and off we went. A second win, we’re moving forward.”
Sun Zheng – CF Racing (National Class Winner)
“The start was okay, but I struggled with the International class cars, I couldn’t see and I went off at Poulon. I rejoined last, but my speed was good. I had a few fights, but it was nice to get back ahead and take another win. Hopefully tomorrow holds another win!”
The final race of the weekend gets underway today (Saturday) at 11:50 CET and will be shown live across the Motors TV network in Europe.
Third-race grid: Latifi – King – Mardenborough – Guimaraes – Giovinazzi – Buller – Gelael – Calderon – Zheng – Oon – Vlok