Sam Bird continued his impressive run of form in the F3 Euroseries by taking a second podium finish in as many meetings during round 17 at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit.
Having secured his maiden podium during race one of the previous event in Barcelona a fortnight ago, the British driver climbed from fourth on the grid to take second place in the first of the weekend's races, before rain interrupted his progress in the second.
Bird immediately passed third placed starter – and soon to be crowned 2008 champion – Nico Hulkenberg after the German stalled on the grid, but was then forced onto the grass by Stefano Coletti. The Manor Motorsport driver got some measure of revenge, however, passing his rival for second after Coletti spun on lap three, and was then able to comfortably hold the runners-up spot to the flag on lap 27.
“Coletti pushed me onto the grass, so I was only in third place over the first few metres," the 21-year old commented after the race, "After he spun out, however, I moved up into second, but [polesitter] Jules Bianchi was in a league of his own, and I had no chance to follow him.”
The grid for the 18th round, with the top eight finishers from Saturday reversed, saw Bird start seventh, two places behind Manor team-mate Kodai Tsukakoshi, but dark clouds were massing over Le Mans and, no sooner had the race got underway, than the rain started to fall. With all drivers on slick tyres, the ensuing conditions proved tricky but Bird soon managed to climb to fifth.
His progress was halted when he was nudged back to seventh and then he spun on his while challenging for sixth at the final corner of lap one. Rejoining all the way down in 23rd, the Briton had to bide his time, but had recovered to 14th when, on lap six, and with rain continuing to fall, red flags were shown as Jon Lancaster crashed out while duelling with Tsukakoshi.
Following a delay of around 20 minutes, the race re-started with the majority of drivers now on wet tyres, although a handful elected to gamble on slicks. The length of the break, however, meant that the restarted race would run over just eight minutes, with the field being released from behind the safety car.
With errors still being made, Bird climbed three places to eleventh by the flag but, with less than 75 per cent of the scheduled distance being covered, only half points were awarded to those ahead of him, limiting the damage to his championship position.
“I'm very happy with my performances in practice, in qualifying, and in the first race," Bird reflected. "Another eight points are very useful for me in the championship standings and it's helping me to end the year on a high. I'm very much looking forward to Hockenheim now, where I aim to go one step higher!"