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It's Yawn Wirdheim at single-file Silverstone
21 July 2003
Bjorn Wirdheim extended his FIA F3000 Championship lead with a comfortable lights to flag victory in a Silverstone that featured very little overtaking.
The Swede got the jump on fellow front row starter Giorgio Pantano when the lights went out and, after a close couple of early laps, proceeded to pull away at a consistent rate before crossing the line some seven seconds ahead of the Italian, his nearest rival in the point race.
With the top two remaining unchanged throughout, Wirdheim added a further two points to his championship lead, opening out an 18-mark advantage with just three races to run.
Pantano enjoyed a similarly comfortable margin back to his nearest pursuer, but Vitantonio Liuzzi had other things on his mind and was not in a position to close the gap. The younger of the two Italians managed to squeeze ahead of Ricardo Sperafico at the start, but had to endure constant pressure from the Brazilian for the entire 30 laps. Sperafico would close up by braking later into Stowe, but Liuzzi would open out his advantage again over the rest of the lap.
Sperafico did not have it easy, mind you, as the second Red Bull car of Patrick Friesacher was all but glued to his tail as the trio contested the final podium place. This was clearly the Austrian's best race since returning from his arm injury, but Silverstone's nature did not make it easy for him to pass.
The bottleneck choked up by Liuzzi allowed, first, Enrico Toccacelo to close in on the trio, and then Townsend Bell to reel in the Italian but, all the time the order remained the same.
If the racing for third was close enough to reman interesting, there was at least overtaking further down the field - and most of it was being done by Nicolas Kiesa. The Dane started lower than he would have expected, having had to swap between the Den Bla Avis and Super Nova teams on the eve of the event, but made good progress throughout the race, passing ISR Charouz duo Yannick Schroeder and Jaroslav Janis to cement the final point.
Kiesa's cause was helped by the retirement of Tony Schmidt, whose Astromega car pulled off at two-thirds distance. The German's team-mate Michael Keohane also allowed the order to change, but only by attempting to resist a charging Raffaele Giammaria into Abbey, in a move that saw the Italian spin out and the Irish debutant concede ground to Zsolt Baumgartner.
There was even passing right at the back, as the two relatively inexperienced BCN drivers swapped places on two occasions. Marc Hynes, back in F3000 after a gap of three years, got the better of American Will Langhorne off the line, but quickly ceded the place on the run to Stowe. Langhorne then threw away his growing advantage by running out of road at Abbey, but clawed back what had become an eight-second deficit to pass the HANS-hindered Hynes with a couple of laps to go.
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