While life carried on as normal in the ATS German Formel 3 Cup at the Lausitzring, the inaugural European F3 Open championship welcomed two new winners to the fold as it ventured to future British GP venue Donington Park.

The Donington event proved to be a successful homecoming for Team West-Tec, as the British team took feature race victory in both the overall and Copa Class competitions, while Jonathan Legris looked set to repeat his Spa win only to be denied by a drive-thru' penalty for a starting grid infringement.

West-Tec stalwart Thor-Christian Ebbesvik lined up on pole for the first of the weekend's two races, having set two laps faster than anybody else to secure the first point of the meeting, and then made a stunning start to head Celso Miguez into Redgate. Although the experienced Spaniard tried everything he could, he was never able to challenge the Norwegian, who dominated from start to finish to record his third win in the category.

Bruno M?ndez and Kevin Ceccon both had solitary races in third and fourth, leaving the main attraction to be the fight for fifth between Legris, Stefano Bizzarri and Adrian Campos Jr. The British driver, however, was able to defend himself from the constant attacks of his two rivals, before Campos' threat ended in a spin on lap 12, which cost the Spaniard several positions. Callum Macleod again claimed Copa honours to strengthen his hold on the points race.

A heavy shower, which started as the cars reached the grid for race two, altered everyone's plans but, in the adverse conditions, Legris appeared set to repeat his success from Spa. However, having snatched the lead from Bizzarri on the opening lap, the Briton - who had started on the front row courtesy of the reversed top six from race one - was hit by a drive-thru' penalty after it was adjudged that his team had been working on his car on the grid beyond the cut-off time.

The punishment dropped Legris - a former West-Tec driver - back to fourth place, but some feisty driving saw him recover to second position in the waning laps, overtaking both Ebbesvik and, in a risky move, M?guez, to chase Bizzarri to the line. The result was enough to confirm Legris in third place overall, behind co-leaders Miguez and Mendez, after the former took advantage of the latter's poor race two performance to tie him at the head of the championship.

Miguez completed the podium in race two, ahead of Augusto Scalbi, Campos Jr and the hapless Ebbesvik, who had been running second - from sixth - until the closing stages.

"We have been working really hard to develop our car recently, and so I was delighted to get such a great result on Saturday," Ebbesvik commented, "Sunday should have been great too, but I was fortunate to finish at all after what happened! We have made a lot of progress this weekend though, and recovered some momentum in the championship which will be great for the second half of the season."

Macleod's run of Copa Class victories was ended by a locked-up Ceccon, who removed the Briton from contention, allowing Jose Luis Abadin to take the champagne.

"The circuit really favours the newer cars, so seventh overall with the Copa win on Saturday was great," Macleod admitted, "Sunday was a shame as we were well in the class lead and gaining overall, but it wasn't to be."

"To take pole overall and in Copa and to back that up with the two wins on Saturday was very special, particularly as we had a lot of support with us here at our home
track," West-Tec co-principal John Miller said later, "This is our third season in the series and we have now had 17 wins and 38 podiums which, I think, is testament to the quality throughout the team, both engineering and mechanical."

In the German series, meanwhile, Laurens Vanthoor increased his overall lead with one victory, a second place, two pole positions and two fastest laps during the fifth meeting of the season at the Lausitzring. The Belgian is now more than 40 points ahead of his nearest rival in the championship, which is now halfway through its season.

Having secured both pole positions on Saturday morning - his sixth and seventh in ten races this season - Vanthoor claimed his fourth successive victory, having never been threatened on a drying track. Careful at the start, with the track still wet after a heavy downpour just before the start, he quickly built up a gap, aided by a mistake by van Amersfoort team mate Stef Dusseldorp that delayed the pursuit.

Rafael Suzuki and Nico Monien completed the race one podium and it was the latter who enjoyed the spoils on Sunday when he made the most of a rare Vanthoor error to claim his first win of the season. Vanthoor and Dusseldorp completed the podium, allowing the Belgian to continue building his overall advantage. After ten of the 18 races, Vanthoor now has a 42-points lead on closest rival Dusseldorp.

"I started off very cautiously [in race one] as I couldn't afford to make any mistakes," Vanthoor commented, "I then slowly but surely built up a lead, right up until Stef wasn't to be seen anywhere. I pleased with this victory, and also the way the championship is evolving as my nearest rivals didn't score at all well and I'm in an even stronger position than before at the top of the championship.

"I missed my start [in race two] and, during the race, I was playing catch up. Fortunately, Nico isn't a threat for the title, but I would have liked to have won the race. However, I didn't want to take any risks of a serious attack to grab more points for the title battle and, as it turned out, this was the best option. Now I mustn't - and won't - allow my concentration to waiver, as the main intention is to safeguard the title as soon as possible."

The next outing for the ATS F3 Cup takes places over 8-9 August at Assen in the Netherlands, while the European F3 Open series takes a mid-season break, returning at Magny-Cours in September.

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