Motorsport News - F3
Double Top 10 For Double R On F3 Euroseries Debut
21st May 2012Malaysia’s Fahmi Ilyas secured a brace of well deserved top 10 finishes for Double R Racing on his and the team’s Formula 3 Euroseries debut at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 19th/20th May, to mark a highly encouraging championship debut for the Woking squad.
As the team elected to make its maiden appearance in the European series to provide additional mileage for British F3 regulars Ilyas and team-mate Geoff Uhrhane, the Australian also made the most of the extra running to post 12th place results in the first and third races.
Having finished ninth overall in race one on Saturday morning and then taking an improved eighth position in race two, third best British F3 runner on each occasion, Ilyas was on course to secure another top eight in today’s third and final race. He was forced to retire with broken suspension though after contact from F3 Euroseries points leader Daniel Juncadella.
“We’re happy with how the weekend has gone overall, it’s been very encouraging”, said Double R team principal Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt, “Fahmi took a couple of top 10 finishes in the first two races and Geoff continued his learning curve without any dramas, it all puts us in good stead for the next outing. This weekend has been very valuable, a really positive European F3 debut for us.”
In qualifying Ilyas posted a best time of 41.745 seconds to grab 12th on the grid for race three, just half a second shy of the second row, while his second best lap of the session, 41.804 seconds, also secured a sixth row start for the opening encounter. However, a penalty for F3 Euroseries regular Tom Blomqvist elevated the Double R man to 11th on the grid for race one.
Uhrhane was within just over 0.2 seconds of his team-mate with his fastest time of the session, 41.996 seconds, while his second best time was 42.308 seconds, meaning ninth row starts for races one and three in his Dallara-Mercedes.
Ilyas held onto 11th at the start of race one on Saturday morning while Uhrhane moved up into 15th at the expense of F3 Euroseries regular Andrea Roda. During the early laps, Ilyas stayed right in the wheeltracks of compatriot Jazeman Jaafar as both were held up behind the car of Harry Tincknell which had front-wing damage.
With Tincknell backing the cars behind up significantly, officials ordered him to pit and he eventually heeded this on lap 17 as Ilyas looked poised to take 10th position at the entry of Clearways. By that time, the Malaysian had already lost out significantly as Jaafar had managed to edge past Tincknell several laps before and pull away to the tune of around seven seconds.
However, the Safety Car was deployed on lap 23 due to the stalled car of European runner Lucas Wolf at the exit of Paddock Hill Bend – giving Ilyas the opportunity to make up lost ground. Uhrhane, meanwhile, had earlier passed Wolf for 14th place and gained another spot when Tincknell retired.
On lap 27, one lap after the re-start, Ilyas produced a good pass on William Buller for ninth at Paddock Hill Bend just after the European runner had been challenged by Jaafar. Ilyas remained there to the flag on lap 56 despite coming under increasing pressure during the closing stages.
The result meant the Double R man was the third highest placed British F3 driver while team-mate Uhrhane was the fourth best of the British championship contingent, profiting from a last lap error by Buller to take 12th position.
Broken suspension denies Ilyas triple top 10
Race two on Saturday afternoon, a shorter 20-minute encounter, began with Ilyas ninth on the grid and Uhrhane 12th as per the earlier result. Largely uneventful for the Double R racers, Ilyas moved into eighth straight away due to a near-stall for Juncadella in-front of him and held the place to the finish on lap 28 – again third best British F3 competitor.
Uhrhane held 12th until lap four when the recovering Juncadella passed him at Druids. Slipping to 14th on lap nine, the Australian remained there to the finish fending off Roda and Wolf during the final few laps.
Race three began with Ilyas in 12th position and Uhrhane 16th on the grid with both drivers enjoying an excellent opening lap. Holding station off the line, Ilyas profited from contact between Jaafar and Sven Muller at Graham Hill Bend to move into the top 10 while Uhrhane gained an additional place by passing Wolf so was 13th by the end of the lap.
Following a drive-through penalty for Juncadella, which he served on lap eight, Ilyas moved into ninth and Uhrhane 12th but the F3 Euroseries championship leader had a say in Double R’s fortunes during his recovery drive.
Uhrhane chose not to fight the Spaniard at Paddock Hill Bend on lap 29 but when Juncadella tried to overtake Ilyas on lap 43 at Druids, by which point the Malaysian was eighth, the late dive up the inside resulted in contact and damage to the front-right suspension on the Double R Dallara F312. It meant retirement for Ilyas, although Uhrhane rounded-out his weekend with another 12th place.
“It was one of those racing incidents really, [Daniel] Juncadella had a go at Fahmi into the corner and there was contact – it’s a shame as Fahmi had driven well all weekend”, said Hieatt, “His pass on [William] Buller in race one was fantastic, he’s renowned as one of the most difficult drivers to try and overtake so we were well pleased with that.
“Geoff did exactly what he needed to this weekend, learn as much as possible, get used to the Hankook tyres and gain as much mileage as possible without any dramas. We know where we need to improve but we’re happy with the progress made this weekend.”
While the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series doesn’t resume until 9th/10th June at Rockingham in Northamptonshire, Double R is expected to be back in action a fortnight from now, on 2nd/3rd June, with another appearance in the F3 Euroseries at Austria’s Red Bull Ring.
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