13 September 2009
Ricciardo wins British F3 title
"This is my first championship win," said McKenzie, "and it's been a long time coming. It's a great feeling. I hope very much we can sort a deal to join the International class next weekend, and then use that to launch into a full championship bid in 2010. The National class is a great stepping stone, very competitive and with some great drivers. It's been a good experience."
In all the excitement of both championships being settled, it was all too easy to overlook the feats of Jules Bianchi, whose ART Grand Prix Dallara-Mercedes took outright victory once again, and of Max Chilton, who took championship race honours for the first time in his three-year career.
The initial race leader was Fortec's invitation class runner Sam Bird, who got the drop from fourth on the grid, passing Ricciardo and pole-sitter Chilton. But Sam's grip on top spot was loosened by Bianchi on lap four, the Frenchman blasting past both Ricciardo and Bird at the restart after a two-lap safety car period initiated after a clash between Riki Christodoulou and Roberto Mehri.
Bianchi pulled into a commanding lead as Ricciardo's pace faded - Daniel believed contact with Bianchi's car had damaged his car's nosecone - with Bird, and then van der Zande, giving chase. Renger moved up to second past Bird on lap six but yet again fell victim to a rear puncture in the latter stages, limping home 12th.
That gave Bird a secure grip on second, and he was more than able to fend off Chilton's challenge, Max having recovered from his poor opening lap, which left him sixth, to take Ricciardo and then profit from van der Zande's demise. Max was under heavy pressure from Carlos Huertas for much of the race but never wavered.
Bianchi crossed the line 4.7 seconds clear of Bird, with Chilton next up and the leading championship class driver by a two-second margin.
"It's good to do it at last," said Chilton, "although it's a shame it's not an outright win. My start wasn't shocking but I got forced wide and several got past me. I knew Dan had a problem and then Renger had a puncture, and there I was."
Huertas earned himself the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend award for his chase to fourth, and championship class second.
Esteban Gutierrez claimed fifth overall for ART, ahead of the final championship class podium finisher, T-Sport's Adriano Buzaid.
Ricciardo, Henry Arundel, Hywel Lloyd and Adrian Tambay completed the top ten.
In the National class, Gabriel Dias led all the way to win for the seventh time for T-Sport, with McKenzie cruising home for second and the title, and French newcomer Mathieu Maurage third in class for Team West-Tec.
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