Antonio Pizzonia was all but handed the British Formula Three crown before the lights went out at Spa-Francorchamps.

Although not directly involved in the championship battle, pole-sitter Takuma Sato posed enough of a threat to the Brazilian that an engine problem on the warm-up lap was greeted by a sigh of relief in the Manor Motorsport camp. Needing just a top eight finish to clinch the crown, Pizzonia was never likely to be troubled but the exit of one his race rivals removed the temptation to get involved in a costly scrap.

Instead of Sato, however, Pizzonia had to watch the tail-pipes of Portuguese interloper Tiago Monteiro, the French series runner making the most of an open circuit to take an unchallenged victory. As the ASM driver slowly disappeared, Pizzonia found himself locked in a game of cat-and-mouse with the team-mate of his closest title rival, and quickly settled into a defence of second place.

Narain Karthikeyan was never going to resort to dirty tricks in order to help Stewart team-mate Tomas Scheckter extend his chase for the championship, but did enough to keep Pizzonia on his toes throughout. With Scheckter only managing a distant fifth, however, only a retirement would prevent Pizzonia from wrapping up the title at the greatest driver's circuit of all.

Behind Karthikeyan, Italy's Gianmaria Bruni headed home Scheckter - up from eighth and ninth respectively - and RC Benetton's Nic Kiesa, after Carlin suffered a disappointing race. Sato did manage to rejoin the race, albeit two laps down, while team-mate Ben Collins was unable to sustain his top six qualifying position.

Full results will follow shortly......

Leading finishers - F3 - Spa.

1. Tiago Monteiro ASM Dallara-Renault
2. Antonio Pizzonia Manor Dallara-Mugen
3. Narain Karthikeyan Stewart Dallara-Mugen
4. Gianmaria Bruni Fortec Dallara-Mugen
5. Tomas Scheckter Stewart Dallara-Mugen
6. Nicolas Kiesa RC Benetton Dallara-Opel

 

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