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Grubmuller closes gap with victory
19 July 2009
Walter Grubmuller has closed the gap between himself and Cooper Tires British F3 points leader Daniel Ricciardo after securing victory in the opening race of the weekend at Donington Park.
Grubmuller took the chequered flag ahead of team-mate Renger van der Zande while Ricciardo recovered from early-race dramas to take third place at the chequered flag. However, the Australian sees his title points advantage cut from 23 points to 16 following the race.
Grubmuller made the decisive move of the race away from the start, making a better getaway than van der Zande to slot ahead of his team-mate into Redgate Corner.
The only real threat to Grubmuller's second victory of the season came on the tenth lap, when the Safety Car was called into play while the stricken car of National Class runner Gabriel Dias was retrieved from a dangerous position. But Grubmuller and van der Zande handled the restart perfectly and kept well clear of their closest pursuer, Colombian Carlos Huertas who, after claiming his best grid slot, was enjoying a convincing run in the Raikkonen Robertson Dallara.
Ricciardo was meanwhile enduring a nightmare, slipping from third on the grid to seventh by the third lap. The fight back to third was impressive, as he dispatched Riki Christodoulou through the Craner Curves on lap seven, Max Chilton six laps later, then Adriano Buzaid within a further two laps and, finally, Huertas for third on the inside at McLeans nine laps from the end.
"My start wasn't perfect, too much wheelspin, and I fell back a couple of positions,” he said. “Then I tried to make them up a bit too quickly and that ended up costing me a couple more positions. The safety car helped a bit, and the car was really good and I managed to get back to third. I had the pace of the Hitech cars but Renger was doing a good job holding me off. Third was all I could do in the end."
Grubmuller crossed the line six-tenths clear of van der Zande to take victory and admitted he was delighted with the win.
"After the start it was a pretty uneventful race for me, but still difficult because it was extremely slippery,” he said. “I was struggling with that a bit but managed to get it home safe. I am still in contention for the championship; we're only half way through the season and anything can happen. We are still in the fight."
Huertas held on for fourth, equalling his best result, ahead of Buzaid, Chilton, Christodoulou and Daisuke Nakajima, with Jay Bridger and Wayne Boyd completing the top ten.
In the National Class Dias threw away a massive grid advantage on the opening lap, Fortec's Daniel McKenzie gratefully accepting the class lead. With Dias later hobbled by mechanical problems, McKenzie enjoyed a relatively easy run to his seventh class win of the season.
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