Oulton Park, Race 1: Sato stays cool

Takuma Sato stayed cool despite a fraught beginning to take his second British Formula 3 Championship race win of the season at Oulton Park today

Oulton Park, Race 1: Sato stays cool

The Japanese got the best start from pole position to lead Carlin Motorsport Dallara-Mugen team-mate Anthony Davidson, but the safety car was brought out after one lap because of a three-car shunt among the Scholarship Class runners just after the start at Old Hall.

Sato then picked up a left rear puncture, probably on the debris from that accident, before the race was red-flagged after two laps because one of the stricken cars was leaking fuel.

The race was restarted over a fresh 12-lap distance, with the field gridding up in the order in which they'd completed lap two. But even so the Carlin team was allowed to change Sato's tyre for an already used Avon on the grounds of safety.

Sato managed to hold on at the restart, while Gianmaria Bruni rocketed from fourth to second in his Fortec Dallara-Renault to lead Davidson. With Sato's left-rear tyre not working as well as the others, and the corners at Oulton predominantly fast right-handers, it was a tough job for the BAR test driver to hold on. But he soaked up immense pressure from Bruni over the opening laps, then put on a mid-race spurt to secure victory.

"I had big oversteer for the first two laps," explained Sato, "but I knew I could hold Bruni all the way. Then I settled down and pulled away, and once I'd done that I stayed consistent." The point for fastest lap completed a perfect score.

In a processional race, Davidson was unable to force an opening from Bruni, while in turn Matt Davies (Team Avanti Dallara-Opel) chased his fellow Englishman all the way to the flag.

Andre Lotterer was probably the unluckiest man. The German had moved from fourth to third at the first start, but his exhaust had broken on the formation lap. At the restart he dropped to fifth, then had to park at the Knicker Brook chicane when fumes filled the cockpit and it became too hot to continue.

Championship leader Derek Hayes dropped to fifth on the grid for the restart, believing that he had been passed by Bruni after the safety car board had gone out. The Irishman then fell further down the order when he was squeezed towards the pit barrier and ended up eighth behind Bruce Jouanny (who took his first points of the year for fifth), Andy Priaulx and James Courtney (who stormed from 14th on the original grid).

Predictably, on the fast but narrow Oulton circuit, there was no overtaking among the leading runners after the restart.

Robbie Kerr clung on to take a Scholarship Class win, after Mark Mayall, who had moved in to challenge in the closing stages, slid off the road at the Shell hairpin and dropped to the rear.




Takuma Sato (Carlin Motorsport Dallara-Mugen) 2 laps, then 12 laps in
18m18.690s
Gianmaria Bruni (Fortec Renault Dallara-Renault) +2.389s
Anthony Davidson (Carlin Motorsport Dallara-Mugen) +2.804s
Matt Davies (Team Avanti Dallara-Opel) +3.876s
Bruce Jouanny (Promatecme Dallara-Mugen) +5.654s
Andy Priaulx (Alan Docking Racing Dallara-Mugen) +7.671s
James Courtney (Jaguar Racing Dallara-Mugen) +8.252s
Derek Hayes (Manor Motorsport Dallara-Mugen) +8.498s
Mark Taylor (Manor Motorsport Dallara-Mugen) +9.431s
Milos Pavlovic (Team Avanti Dallara-Opel) +10.527s
Robbie Kerr (Fred Goddard Racing Dallara-Renault)
Sato 1m30.707s

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