Eurobet Arrows driver, Mark Webber, returned to the podium in round eight of the FIA International Formula 3000 Championship at Hockenheim - his first such result since winning round two back in April.

The 23-year old Australian finished third in the 31-lap race which was noticeable for a couple of Safety Car periods and a remarkable charge by early race leader, Tomas Enge, who gambled to pit for slick tyres on lap 20 and stormed to a six second victory over his team-mate, Tomas Scheckter.

Although he finished 16 seconds behind Enge, Webber's third place was an outstanding achievement given the badly worn state of his wet-weather tyres at the end of the race. Troubled by a lack of downforce throughout, Webber was unable to take the challenge to Enge and Scheckter and spent most of the race trying to preserve his tyres.

Light rain was falling for the start of the race and so the Safety Car led the pack away for the first lap. When it pulled off at the end of the opening lap, Webber initially slipped to fourth but quickly regained the position and then passed Scheckter for second place on the first lap. Although he began to pull away from the South African, Webber lacked the pace to do anything about Enge and by lap 18, Scheckter had closed right up on Webber and repassed him for second.

When Enge pitted on lap 20, Webber was promoted to second place behind Scheckter and although Scheckter had a healthy lead, this was reduced to five seconds when he spun at the Ostkurve. Meanwhile, Enge was storming back and reeling in the leaders hand over fist, catching and passing Webber on lap 29.

''I was really struggling,'' admitted Webber afterwards, ''We really didn't have the right wing settings for the conditions and that caused the tyre problem. They were completely finished. Towards the end, the car was disgraceful and there were actually bits of rubber flying off all over the place! In fact, braking and traction were so bad that it actually felt like I was driving round on the brake discs! I'm disappointed that I couldn't take the fight to the two Tomases but, given the circumstances, I'm happy with the way I drove.''

''With the heavy downpour of rain before the start of the race, the decision to start the race on wets was obviously the correct one,'' commented team boss Paul Stoddart, ''Mark drove an unbelievable race given the state of his tyres, to bring it home in a solid third place. The cars, running first and second, made a brave decision to call Enge in and put him onto slicks and it
paid off for them. However, had it rained towards the end as it had been predicted, Mark could have easily won today.''



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