The first race of the Formula Three Euroseries weekend at the A1-Ring brought a clear lights-to-flag victory for Ryan Briscoe, allowing the Australian to overcome a recent drop in results and cement his points advantage.

The Prema Powerteam driver led the way from Alexandre Pr?mat and Bruno Spengler, while chief title rival, Austrian Christian Klien, lost two places at the start before recovering to fifth position, unable to find a way past Mucke Motorsport team-mate Markus Winkelhock.

Under the watchful eyes of former f1 champions Niki Lauda and Keke Rosberg, the start of the first-ever Euroseries race on Austrian soil saw the first three drivers - Briscoe, Pr?mat and ASM team-mate Spengler - make good getaways, while Austrian Andreas Zuber (Team Rosberg) overtook Winkelhock after an excellent start and claimed fourth place.

While Zuber's over-exuberance eventually forced him into a spin on lap nine - and a ninth place finish - series debutant Adam Carroll (Opel Team KMS) - making a guest appearance after abdicating from the British F3 Championship - and Nico Rosberg also made up a few places at the start, demoting Klien, among others.

"I didn't know what to expect from the Euroseries and what my chances would be for the race, but I am happy with sixth place," Carroll would go on to say after opening his points account.

While championship leader Briscoe was driving his laps all alone, and enjoying a six-second margin over Pr?mat, Spengler, Winkelhock and the recovering Klien were all engaged in exciting fights for position.

However, with each proving equally matched, no-one was able to make up any further ground before the chequered flag came out. Even a courageous overtaking attempt by Klien on the final lap proved unsuccessful as he was forced to follow team-mate Winkelhock across the line.

"I didn't have to fight at all," Premat reported, "Ryan was well ahead of me and I was quicker than Bruno. I hope that it will be equally good tomorrow. But nevertheless, we will try tonight to improve the car a little bit more, so that I can fight with Ryan for first place tomorrow."

Spengler enjoyed his best result of the season by heading home the two Mucke drivers, but admitted that it had been a struggle to hold on to third place.

"At the start, I had a good getaway, but then I had problems following Ryan and Alexandre," the Canadian explained, "Then Markus closed up to me all of a sudden. But I still was a little bit faster all the time. It was a good race."

Winkelhock and Klien enjoyed a hearty scrap too, with the German revealing that he had been stretched by his rookie team-mate

"At the end, it was difficult to keep Christian behind me, but it was a really good race," he said.

"The race was really exciting and great fun - even though I had a poor start," Klien agreed, "Had my start been better, I could probably even have been on the podium. But the car was great and never let me down during my overtaking manoeuvres."

ASM driver Olivier Pla, third in the championship heading into the Austrian round, made it up to eighth place in the first few laps, but retired with three laps to go as his tyres lost pressure and he struggled for grip.

Austrian Bernhard Auinger (Superfund TME) claimed nine places in the course of the race, climbing from 22nd place on the grid to 13th by the flag, while his compatriots Richard Lietz (HBR Motorsport) and Philipp Baron (Team Ghinzani) finished in 18th and 21st place in front of their home crowd.

Briscoe's victory was his fifth in the 13 races held so far, and extended his lead in the championship to 26 points over Klien and Pla.

"This is a fantastic start to the weekend," the Aussie enthused, "Winning again is great! For me, everything has been running perfectly today. I had a good start, I didn't make any mistakes and the set-up of the car and the engine were optimal. In this series, you can only win when everything is working that well, so I will try to have an equally good start tomorrow and then we will see...!"

 

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