Fortec Motorsports' Will Buller (above) 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.
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.
The second 30-minute race of the weekend is due to begin at 13:30 local time (12:30 BST) later today.
Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Spa-Francorchamps
Spa-Francorchamps Circuit, 4.35-mile, 20-turn race circuit, Francorchamps, Belgium
July 25th July 27th, 2013
British F3 International Series: Round #2 of 4
Race Duration: 3 x 30 minutes
Provisional Series Standings after Round #1 of 4
1 William Buller (Fortec) 54 pts; 2 Felipe Guimaraes (Fortec) 31; 3= Antonio Giovinazzi (Double R) & Jordan King (Carlin) 30; 5 Sean Gelael (Double R) 29. National Class: 1 Ed Jones (West-Tec) 64; 2 Sun Zheng (CF Racing) 43; 3 Cameron Twynham (West-Tec) 38; 4 Roberto La Rocca (West-Tec) 33; 5 Liam Venter (West-Tec) 23.
British F3 TV Broadcast:
Motors TV: LIVE, Saturday July 27th 11:30 (Race 3)
Channel 4: Highlights, Saturday August 3rd 07:00
Motors TV: Highlights, Saturday August 3rd 21:00
More listings here: http://www.formula3.co/calendar/tv-times
British F3 Online Race Coverage:
http://www.twitter.com/britishf3 - for live text commentary
Schedule (All times CET):
Thursday July 25th 2013:
Free Practice 1: 11:25 - 12:00
Free Practice 2: 14:55 15:30
Qualifying: 17:30 18:00
Friday July 26th 2013:
Race 1: 10:10 10:40
Race 2: 13:30 14:00
Saturday, July 27, 2013:
Race 3: 11:50 12:20
For more information about WP Racing, official fuel supplier to the British GT Championship & British Formula 3 International Series and many other topline UK Motorsport series, please contact us today.
Photography courtesy of and copyright to Jakob Ebrey Photography.