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Vergne, Dias win at Hockenheim

Jean-Eric Vergne retook the points lead and Gabriel Dias opened his account in races one and two at Hockenheim.
Carlin's Jean-Eric Vergne and Hitech driver Gabriel Dias were the winners of the first two Hockenheim rounds of the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series, the Frenchman recapturing the championship lead as his Brazilian rival netted his squad's first victory of the season in fine style.

Vergne put the disappointments of last weekend's French rounds behind him in round ten at Hockenheim, dominating the race from pole position to chequered flag, and leading home Carlin team-mate Jazeman Jaafar for a 1-2 result.

"It was a very easy, clear race from the start to the end," the French ace admitted, "I had a really good car and I want to really thank the team because it was amazing."

It took organisers three attempts to get the race underway, Hitech's Dias causing the first restart when he stalled from P2 on the grid, his car then expiring as it made its way on to the second formation and finally being forced to start from pit-lane.

Vergne's start was cautious but he still led into the Nordkurve from team-mates Adriano Buzaid and Jaafar, with Will Buller upholding Hitech honours in fourth ahead of Raikkonen Robertson's Daisuke Nakajima. Fortec's Daniel McKenzie started seventh and quickly promoted himself to sixth at the expense of James Calado.

Alas for McKenzie's team-mate, erstwhile championship leader Oli Webb, the opening laps were far less straightforward. After snatching third from Jaafar into the hairpin the Mancunian ran wide a corner later.

"It just snapped away from me," he admitted, having plummeted down the order. Two laps later, he ran off track again and lost further ground.

The main dramas of the race centred on drive-through penalties handed down by race officials for corner-cutting. Three strikes was the rule, and the first to fall foul was Buzaid, the Brazilian losing a safe second place as a result. That left Vergne some 13 seconds clear of his closest pursuer, Jaafar, who, like Vergne, kept his nose clean to claim his first podium finish in British F3.

Buller might have collected another excellent podium but for a penalty pit call which promoted McKenzie to the final step. The Fortec driver had already profited from a drive-through for Nakajima, and was delighted with his first International class British F3 podium finish after claiming last year's National title.




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