Liam Venter shone in the European Formula 3 Open championship during round two of the Winter Series at Jerez in Spain last weekend, but was robbed of his first podium finish with just a few laps to go.
Liam, who has made the step up to F3 this season, went into the event - his first race at this level - eager to build on the potential shown last month during testing at Paul Ricard and the Team West-Tec youngster didn't disappoint.
Indeed in practice on Friday, after using the opening two sessions to learn the track and bed in his F308 Dallara, he upped the pace in sessions three and four, eventually finishing P4 third in the highly competitive Copa class.
The South African teenager then continued to progress in final practice on the Saturday and was second in class on a 1 minute 38.934 seconds, just 0.054 seconds off the top time.
Unfortunately, qualifying didn't go so well and Liam had to settle for sixth, but he bounced back in the race and made an amazing start moving up to second in class on the opening lap.
The 18-year-old then ran in that position until just four laps from the end, when one of his rivals ran into him at turn 1 and punctured his right rear tyre, cruelly denying him his maiden F3 rostrum result. Despite that disappointment, however, Liam was still happy with the weekend.
“It is a shame how things finished, but I am still pleased,” he said. “We looked good and were on it from the off. To finish third in class on the first day was very encouraging and practice on Saturday morning was great too. We were really confident going into qualifying but it didn't go to plan. I just wasn't in the same mode as I was in practice. I used the race to make up for it though, and I made a great start and on the first lap gained seven or eight places in total.
“Then there was a safety car on lap 3 and I was behind a massive group of twelve cars. They were all fighting amongst themselves. I thought it wasn't really worth taking any risks and ruining my race, so I tried to restrain myself a bit, but still maintained the gap to the person behind me in third. Unfortunately I then had a surge issue with the engine and fell back a bit and had to defend.
“It was all going well. It is quite a tricky place to overtake. So I just needed to make sure my car placing was okay and keep my feet on the ground and not get too stressed. But with about three laps to go, as I descended into the first corner and as I got to my apex, the driver behind me made contact and pushed me straight on. His front wing sliced quite a massive hole in my rear right tyre and cracked the rim. So that was the end of my race.”