Weather: Warm, sunny, clear.
Race Report – Round 11 (Race 2):
At the Nurburgring this afternoon, the second race of the weekend was won by Felipe Lopes Guimaraes (Fortec Motorsport), by the narrowest of margins from Richard “Spike” Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport), while Tatiana Calderon (Double R Racing) finished third, making her the first woman to step onto a British F3 podium. The big story though was that Jordan King claimed the title for Carlin Motorsport after William Buller (Fortec) crashed (this race) and burned (this morning). It gives Carlin their 9th British F3 title, with the last 6 being scored back-to-back. The National Class was won by Chris Vlok (Team West-Tec) after a ferocious battle with Sun Zheng (CF Racing).
At the start, with Goddard on pole, Nicholas Latifi (Carlin) tried to barge his way through to the front, only to meet resistance from Calderon, who was not giving way to anyone if she could avoid it. Further back, Jann Mardenborough (Carlin) was holding up King, with the result that Buller, who had started from last, but was already on the move, was past and right on Mardenborough’s tail.
With a reverse grid there is always a likelihood of a lot of overtaking, and the end result often looks nothing like the starting grid. However, at the end of lap one Goddard still led, from Latifi (who had passed Calderon), Calderon, Guimaraes, Sean Gelael (Double R Racing), Antonio Giovinazzi (Double R Racing), Mardenborough, Buller, King, Alfonso Celis (Fortec Motorsport), Vlok, Zheng and William Barbosa (Team West-Tec).
A lap later and Mardenborough made a pass on Giovinazzi, with Buller also trying to follow through but finding himself unable to make it stick. This meant that Mardenborough now had all three of the remaining championship contenders bottled up behind him, which might not have been the most comfortable position to be in, especially when Giovinazzi tried to come back at him for 8th. The battle for 8th had the potential to get more than a bit messy.
At the front Goddard continued to lead, even pulling out a gap, while Latifi tried – and failed – to shake off Calderon, who was glued to his rear wing and waiting her chance.
On lap 3 Buller found his way past Giovinazzi, while Guimaraes had a very skittery moment when he barged past Calderon for 3rd, charging up the inside and nearly losing it. He held on but it was touch and go as to whether he’d overcooked it. Someone who really did overcook it was Gelael, the Indonesian having a run through the gravel traps that dropped him right down the order to 10th.
That meant the order now was Goddard still in the lead, from Latifi, Guimaraes, Calderon, Buller, Mardenborough, Giovinazzi, King, Celis, Gelael, Vlok, Zheng and Barbosa, after Buller squeezed past Mardenborough, the rookie having no answer to the more experienced man. Meanwhile it was all change at the front again, when Guimaraes got the drop on Latifi, who now found he had Calderon right on his tail again, and looking ever more menacing. Finally she went for it, squeezing up the inside to snatch 3rd from the Canadian, who could do very little to stop her.
Further back, the battle for the National Class was in full swing, with Zheng trying all sorts to pass Vlok, and Vlok resisting for all he was worth. Zheng briefly got ahead, but Vlok came straight back at him, and so it continued, as they slugged it out for the class lead.
At the front, Goddard was still hanging on, but Guimaraes was gaining on him rapidly, setting a new fastest lap of the race as he did so. Even so, there was an element of doubt as to whether he could catch the new, improved Spike, so much so that one or two people were heard to mutter “Where is Spike? What have they done with him?”
Behind him, things were starting to look slightly less safe. Buller was pushing hard and has passed Latifi for 3rd. King, meanwhile, was now 6th, and Celis and Gelael were having a scrap over 10th with Gelael sliding all over the place as he tried to deal with the Mexican rookie. Elsewhere Mardenborough had gone off, necessitating yellow flags in sector 2, and then Gelael had a spin at the first corner, but was at least able to continue.
It all seemed to be playing into Buller’s hands up front, but then a long shot on the circuit TV system showed a very smoky moment for a Fortec car, which looked like it could be Buller’s as he caught up to Calderon. The question was, if that was oil, were there still 7 minutes and 54 second’s worth of it still in the Mercedes engine? Maybe. Maybe not. It was all academic because seconds later Buller was gone, the Fortec deep in the gravel, and, provided he stayed ahead of Giovinazzi, King was the 2013 champion.
With Zheng’s sector times (presumably for the yellow flags earlier) under investigation, Vlok was still ahead in the National Class, while Barbosa trailed quite some distance back. Goddard, meanwhile, who is more usually back there with the National Class boys, looked as if he was about to win the race. However, he’d reckoned without Guimaraes.
On the last corner, of the last lap, Goddard got a wheel on the kerbs and that was all the invitation Guimaraes needed. He powered out of the corner faster and led Goddard over the line, beating him to the win by a whisker (or at least 0.227 seconds). Calderon came home a delighted third, the first woman to step on a British F3 podium.
Latifi finished 4th, ahead of newly-crowned champion King, who might have preferred to have beaten Buller on the road, but would take his title however it happened. 6th was Giovinazzi, who can still claim the runner up slot this year. 7th went to Gelael, from Celis, then came Vlok, Zheng and Barbosa.
Fastest laps went to Guimaraes and Zheng.