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Webb wins to take points lead

23 May 2010

Oli Webb confirmed his status as a championship after dominating round nine of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Magny-Cours.

The Fortec driver defeated local hero Jean-Eric Vergne in the race and, more importantly, claimed the championship lead from the Frenchman's clutches.

Webb made a good start from second on the grid to overhaul poleman Vergne, just as he did on Saturday, and led into the first corner. This time Vergne's getaway was not disastrously slow, but it was tardy enough to allow Webb to take a slender lead.

Vergne was ever-present in Webb's mirrors all the way to the end of the 25 laps, and though he was close enough at times to make an attempt at claiming the lead, no serious assault was forthcoming.

“It's been a bad weekend,” said Vergne. “I did not expect this. This race was quite disappointing because the rear wing was broken, we think by the heat, and there was no way that I could pass Oli.”

Webb was more than delighted by his 0.7s victory, which promotes him to the top of the championship standings, two points clear of Vergne.

“I'm ecstatic,” he said. “To do this at a track I have never seen before in my life, against someone who knows it back to front, makes it even more satisfying. I didn't make a great start, but Jean-Eric made quite a bad one, so that favoured me. After that it was just a question of putting in the laps.”

After the first-lap jostling, the third and final race of the championship's French weekend was the least eventful.

Gabriel Dias slotted into third at the start and held on in that position to the flag, unable to stay on terms with the leaders but taking a podium finish to make up for losing a possible win in race two earlier in the day.

The battle for fourth was a highlight, Daniel McKenzie hanging on to the position until eight laps from the end, at which point he was overcome by James Calado, back on form after the Carlin team put in a superhuman effort to repair his car after his morning accident. McKenzie hung on for fifth and his best-ever finish.

Rupert Svendsen-Cook finished just ahead of Felipe Nasr for sixth, with Hywel Lloyd claiming an excellent eighth for the CF Racing with Manor team, ahead of Carlin men Lucas Foresti and Adriano Buzaid.

Menasheh Idafar held the National class lead until lap 17, when he had to give best to his T-Sport team-mate James Cole, who romped on to win the class by a couple of seconds to consolidate his class points lead.

“I got him into the hairpin, around the outside,” said Cole. “I didn't pass him off the start like I thought I would and then it was difficult because other cars would come n between us. I just had to wait for the moment when I could get a run at him and do it, and when I did I pulled away…”


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