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Vergne on top after Dias penalty
23 May 2010
Championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne made up for his disappointing result in race one with an impressive victory in the eighth round of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Magny-Cours.
The 20-year-old Frenchman took his home win for Carlin despite crossing the finish line just behind the car of Gabriel Dias - the Brazilian being handed a penalty at the finish for jumping the start that dropped him well down the order.
The race, originally scheduled for 20 minutes, had to be red-flagged and restarted after contact on the third lap between pole-sitter and early leader Jazeman Jaafar and the car of his Carlin team-mate James Calado. Calado was trying to wrest the lead from the Malaysian into the Adelaide hairpin when their Dallaras touched, Calado's reared up and over the back of Jaafar's and was fired broadside into the gravel trap, where it tipped over and trapped the driver. Calado was unhurt.
Jaafar restarted again from the pole but Hitech man Dias got an even better getaway as the lights flashed off – too good a start, as it turned out. Vergne made short of work of passing Jaafar for second and within three laps had whittled Dias' lead down to half a second.
The Frenchman pounced on his prey around the outside of the Adelaide hairpin on the sixth and penultimate lap. But Dias wasn't giving an inch and fought back so fiercely that it took Jean-Eric another couple of corners to make the move stick. Indeed it was only by cutting a corner that Vergne was able safely to secure the lead.
By this stage pit lane was aware that Dias's start was being investigated, and wisely the Carlin crew were quickly on the radio to Vergne to advise him to let Dias repass, lest the original overtake was deemed contrary to regulations. Thus Dias took the flag first, only to lose the win immediately thanks to a one-minute time penalty.
“It's great to win after yesterday's disaster,” Vergne said. “It was really hard to pass Gabriel but finally I was able to manage it. Then I cut the chicane a little bit to make sure that we didn't touch. We decided to let him repass because we knew by then that he was likely to get a time penalty.”
Round seven victor Oli Webb had few hopes of a podium finish from seventh on the original grid, but the Knutsford man was fourth for the restart and managed to pass Jaafar on the final lap. With the penalty for Dias, he ended up second ahead of Jaafar – although the Malaysian driver was then excluded for the incident with Calado.
That handed third place to Will Buller after a last lap move on Daisuke Nakajima with Hywel Lloyd and Felipe Nasr rounding out the top six.
National Class honours went to James Cole after Menasheh Idafar hit problems early on and had to pit for a new tyre.
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