Buzaid splashes to Spa victory
25 July 2009
Adriano Buzaid became the eighth different race winner of the 2009 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series after sweeping to his maiden category win at a rain-soaked Spa-Francorchamps.
The Brazilian's success was the second win in a week for the Volkswagen-powered T-Sport team, after fellow rookie Wayne Boyd to victory at Donington Park, but the biggest winner of the weekend was Red Bull Carlin's Daniel Ricciardo, who added a second-place finish to his race victory from Friday to extend his championship lead to 37 points - the largest advantage that the Australian has enjoyed all season.
Buzaid's win was a real battle against the elements. Rain started to fall on the warm-up lap and the pole-sitter and his rivals had to make a difficult pre-start tyre choice. All but Invitation Class runner Jake Rosenzweig opted to start on slicks - and some rued their decision when the heavens opened again on lap five.
Buzaid and Ricciardo tip-toed their way around the opening laps, with the Brazilian swiftly repulsing an early attack from the Australian to build a one-second advantage within a couple of laps. Buzaid pulled even further ahead as the rain fell and the track became more treacherous, with Ricciardo mindful of his championship lead.
"I had a sniff of victory today," the Carlin driver said, "I took the lead for a while, but Adriano outbraked me, which was a good move. Then the rain came and I had a few moments and I thought that if I can end the race second then that's good result for the championship."
Buzaid crossed the line 5.9secs ahead and was predictably overjoyed with victory, which resulted in the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend award.
"This win is very special for me, amazing," he enthused, "To take my first F3 win at such a nice track as Spa, and in such conditions, is very special. I would like to dedicate this win in memory of Henry Surtees, who was a very good friend of mine."
Renger van der Zande and Riki Christodoulou diced for third for much of the race, so closely in fact that both slithered off the track at the Bus Stop chicane on lap seven and then clashed again at the next corner, La Source. Christodoulou's car suffered enough damage to end its race, and that left van der Zande sitting pretty for third - until the penultimate lap, when he lost time and was passed for the final podium slot by Hitech team-mate and championship title aspirant Walter Grubmuller.
van der Zande scrabbled around the final corner in fourth, just ahead of Carlin's Henry Arundel and Max Chilton, with Carlos Huertas seventh, some way ahead of Daisuke Nakajima and Hywel Lloyd. The only remaining Invitation Class car, the ART Grand Prix machine of Mexico's Esteban Gutierrez, completed the top ten.
Daniel Mckenzie and Gabriel Dias enjoyed another close battle for National Class honours, the British Fortec driver leading his Brazilian counterpart from T-Sport until opting to pit for wet tyres on lap seven, not realising the race had only a further four laps to run and that making up the time lost would be an impossibility.
"There were no mechanical problems today," said Dias, who cruised home to a 27-second class victory, "It's really good to win like that in such difficult conditions, and at a track where I had a bad accident last year, it's very special for me. I was side-by-side with Daniel until he decided to go to the pits for wets, and then he couldn't recover the time he lost."
Despite his setback, McKenzie's National Class lead is now 65 points with six races remaining.