2014 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 Championship – Race Report, Results and Points Round 12

Cooper Tires British F3 Championship
Round 12, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, July 24th/26th 2014
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas

Weather: Warm, dry, sunny.

News: The two Motopark Academy cars of Indy Dontje and Nabil Jeffri have been excluded from the results of yesterday’s Race 2 (Round 11) for infringing technical regulations.

Race Report – Round 12 (Race 3):
At Spa this morning it was three in a row for Ed Jones (Carlin), after a titanic battle for the lead with Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), while behind the pair of them, John Bryant-Meisner (Performance Racing) ran a lonely race for 3rd, the rest of the excitement happening behind the Swede as the Fortec pair of Matt Rao and Martin Cao slugged it out for 4th in a fight that lasted most of the race.

After an early fog lifted (though there was lingering mist at Les Combes for the first part of the race), Round 12 started on schedule but without Roberto Merhi (Double R Racing), yesterday’s engine failure proving a step too far for the team at this stage of the weekend. Jones made another blinding start to hold the lead but Gelael went with him, edging ahead on the run to Les Combes to lead the race by the end of lap 1.

Bryant-Meisner took a look at further demoting Jones, but didn’t have the power to manage it, and he settled back into 3rd, where he would stay for the remainder of the race. The big loser at the start was Sam Macleod (Carlin) who ended up being pushed wide at La Source and dropped down to 8th by the time he’d sorted himself out. Ahead of him, Rao had snatched 5th but had Cao right with him, the Chinese driver who came here leading the series anxious to stop it all slipping away here in the Ardennes.

Meanwhile Jones was trying his hardest to get his lead back, his sector times in S1 again significantly quicker than anyone else, though he was losing out in the second sector. Rao was having as tough a time as Gelael, with Cao all over the rear of his car as they went through the fog at the top of the circuit for the second time this race, but the Englishman held his line and his place. Macleod was more successful passing Dontje for 7th, although Dontje promptly tried to come back at him.

At the front Jones was now so close to Gelael’s rear wing he was almost underneath it, and it seemed to be only a matter of time. In fact Jones managed to get passed but could only stay there for a few metres before the Indonesian edged back ahead again. It was time to push even harder, which the Dubai resident duly did, setting a new fastest lap as he set about trying to unsettle Gelael.

At one third distance Cao finally got ahead of Rao after they both came up behind Jeffri, and it was Cao who came out ahead, only to be followed by Rao seconds later. It was beginning to look as if everyone wanted to be 4th. That left Jeffri to drop back, where he now became an obstacle for the scrapping duo of Dontje and Macleod, which had still not resolved itself.

Further back, Li Zhi Cong (Carlin) was all over Andy Chang (Double R Racing) for 9th, scrabbling to find a way past his countryman. He couldn’t quite do it, at least not yet, but he was trying hard.

The lead battle now came to its conclusion, after Jones took to the grass to get past Gelael. The two almost tangled, Jones having made contact a lap earlier, but this time he was able to make the necessary move. A minor outbreak of wheel banging and it was all over bar the shouting. Jones would now vanish into the distance over the remaining few laps of the race. In emulation of the lead change, perhaps, Li also got past Chang at last, although he too had to take to the grass to do it.

Just because the lead was no longer in dispute didn’t mean the race was now without interest. Far from it in fact! Macleod was still glued to Dontje, and Cao and Rao were still at it as well. Rao managed to get past in the entry to Les Combes, Cao tried to take it back again, and Rao just managed to hang on to the place. This fight was nowhere near over and still had the potential to get messy. Meanwhile, Macleod finally made his move, in this case up the inside of Dontje at La Source. It’s not exactly conventional in F3 but it worked, the Dutchman went wide, and Sam was through. That left Dontje to try and hold of Li while Macleod set off after Jeffri.

A handful of laps later and as Jones opened up an ever increasing gap to Gelael, and Bryant-Meisner ran a lonely race in 3rd, Rao and Cao kept right on swapping places, Cao getting ahead again into Les Combes only for Rao to have the better line on the exit which meant he simply took the place back again. Behind them, Macleod had now caught Jeffri and powered past him in the usual place, and Dontje followed through as well, Li not far behind and almost certain to make a move if a suitable opportunity presented itself.

Even on the final lap, the changes continued, with Cao making one last throw of the dice and again passing Rao only for Rao to again come straight back at him to hold 4th all the way to the line. Just for good measure Nikita Zlobin (ADM Motorsport) passed Chang in the final stages, and Kang Ling (ADM Motorsport) passed Camren Kaminsky (Double R Racing) to drop him to last at the line.

So that was victory number 3 for Jones, again from Gelael, Byrant-Meisner, Rao (who now heads the championship points table), Cao, Macleod, Dontje, Nabil, Li and Zlobin. 11th was Chang, from Ling and Kaminsky.

The two fastest laps went to Jones (non-points scoring) and Bryant-Meisner in the points scoring category.

Next Races: Rounds 13, 14 & 15, Thruxton, Hampshire, 16th/17th August 2014.

Race 3 Results:
1stNo. 21, Ed Jones*, UAE, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 14 laps, 31:53.571
2nd – No. 20, Sean Gelael*, IDN, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 1.092
3rd – No. 12, John Bryant-Meisner, SWE, Performance Racing, Dallara F310, Volkswagen, gap 21.952
4th – No. 7, Matt Rao, GBR, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, gap 31.085
5th – No. 57, Martin Cao, CHN, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, gap 32.679
6th – No. 2, Sam MacLeod, GBR, Carlin, Dallara F308, Volkswagen, gap 36.563
7th – No. 24, Indy Dontje, NED, Motopark Academy, Dallara F308, Volkswagen, gap 40.912
8th – No. 11, Nabil Jeffri, MAL, Motopark Academy, Dallara F311, Volkswagen, gap 43.245
9th – No. 1, Li Zhi Cong, CHN, Carlin, Dallara F308, Volkswagen, gap 43.561
10th – No. 72, Nikita Zlobin, RUS, ADM Motorsport, Dallara F311, Volkswagen, gap 50.843
11th – No. 8, Andy Chang, MAC, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, gap 51.050
12th – No. 10, Ling Kang, CHN, ADM Motorsport, Dallara F311, Volkswagen, 1:05.805
13th – No. 34, Camren Kaminsky, USA, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, 1:09.535

Did Not Start:
No. 9, Roberto Merhi, ESP, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes

Fastest Laps:
No. 21, Ed Jones*, UAE, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 2:15.668, lap 4, ???mph, 185.9kph
No. 12, John Bryant-Meisner, SWE, Performance Racing, Dallara F310, Volkswagen, 2:17.267, lap 7, ???mph, 183.7kph

*non point scoring cars with 2014 spec engines

Points After Round 12

Championship Class
1st – Matt Rao, 129 points
2nd – Martin Cao, 125 points
3rd – Sam MacLeod, 121 points
4th – Andy Chang, 103 points
5th – Camren Kaminsky, 78 points
6th – Marvin Kirchhofer, 54 points
7th – John Bryant-Meisner, 53 points
8th – Peter Li, 44 points
9th – Roberto Merhi, 39 points
10th – Egor Orudzhev, 26 points
11th – Indy Dontje, 23 points
12th – Nabil Jeffri, 18 points
13th – Alice Powell, 16 points
14th – Nikita Zlobin, 6 points
15th – Ling Kang, 5 points

Non point scoring cars: Sean Gelael, Ed Jones