Schu­macher Jnr wins Euro­pean F3 ti­tle

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

has been ruled out.

Schu­macher and his man­age­ment aim to con­tinue rac­ing at ju­nior level, al­though a move into For­mula Two or the Ja­pa­nese Su­per For­mula se­ries is thought to be a pos­si­bil­ity.

‘‘In the next few weeks we will think in­ten­sively about what to drive next year,’’ Schu­macher said.

Schu­macher joins four-time For­mula One world cham­pion Alain Prost, of France, and former F1 driver Ric­cardo Pa­trese, of Italy, to have won the F3 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship.

Cur­rent F1 driv­ers Este­ban Ocon and Lance Stroll are also F3 Euro­pean cham­pi­ons.

Michael Schu­macher won the F3 Ger­man ti­tle in 1990 be­fore start­ing his For­mula One ca­reer one year later. The seven-time For­mula One cham­pion ended his ca­reer in 2012 and has not made a pub­lic ap­pear­ance since suf­fer­ing se­vere head in­juries in a ski­ing ac­ci­dent in late 2013. Former Kiwi Thomas Leu­luai says win­ning his sec­ond Su­per League grand fi­nal crown – eight years af­ter his first – caps an ‘‘emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally tough sea­son’’.

Just hours af­ter his former Ki­wis team-mates up­set Aus­tralia in Auck­land, the 33-year-old helped the Wi­gan War­riors to a 12-4 win over War­ring­ton in the grand fi­nal at Manch­ester United’s Old Traf­ford ground yes­ter­day.

Leu­luai – man of the match in Wi­gan’s 2010 grand fi­nal win – forged a fine halves com­bi­na­tion with Ge­orge Wil­liams as Wi­gan ground out a hard-earned vic­tory in the fi­nal game for coach Shaun Wane and ex-new Zealand War­riors full­back Sam Tomkins.

The vet­eran play­maker said in a post-match tele­vi­sion in­ter­view that it had been ‘‘an emo­tional cou­ple of weeks, say­ing good­bye to so many peo­ple’’.

"[I’m] just drained, re­ally, to be hon­est. It’s been, emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally, a tough sea­son but I’m re­ally happy for the peo­ple who are leav­ing – some are re­ally good friends of mine – that they got to go out on this note.’’

Leu­luai, who also won a Chal­lenge Cup fi­nal in 2011 with Wi­gan, said the War­riors ‘‘just hung in there’’ in the sec­ond spell af­ter es­tab­lish­ing a 8-4 half­time lead.

‘‘We put them to bed at the end when the class of Sam Tomkins came through. I’m so happy for him, what he’s done for this club.’’

War­ring­ton grabbed the lead in the 13th minute when wing Josh Charn­ley – who re­turned to rugby league in mid-sea­son af­ter a stint with English rugby union club Sale – scored in the cor­ner af­ter an off­load by man of the match full­back Ste­fan Ratch­ford.

Wi­gan equalised in the 26th minute through wing Do­minic Man­fredi af­ter Oliver Gil­dart darted through the War­ring­ton de­fence.

Leu­luai’s halves part­ner Wil­liams set up Wi­gan’s sec­ond try five min­utes later with a deft kick for Sam Davies to score in the cor­ner.

Tomkins could not con­vert but Wi­gan led 8-4 at the break.

Wane’s well-drilled team shut War­ring­ton out in the sec­ond spell with suf­fo­cat­ing de­fence.

Wi­gan en­sured Wane – off to a high per­for­mance role with the Scot­tish Rugby Union, Tomkins (bound for the Cata­lans Dragons) and Eng­land sec­ond row John Bate­man (Can­berra Raiders) – de­parted as cham­pi­ons when Man­fredi snared his sec­ond try in the 77th minute.

Tomkins, who had ear­lier missed a lon­grange penalty at­tempt, floated a cutout pass to give Man­fredi – play­ing only his fifth game af­ter two years on the side­lines with in­juries – space to score in the cor­ner.

Toby King seemed set to score a late con­so­la­tion for War­ring­ton, but a video re­play re­vealed he had fum­bled the ball over the line.

Wane choked back the tears as he hailed his team’s de­fen­sive ef­fort ‘‘against a cham­pion War­ring­ton team’’.

War­ring­ton coach Steve Price said Wi­gan’s de­fence was out­stand­ing.

Former NZ War­rior Bo­dene Thomp­son and Auck­land-born EX-NRL player Ben Mur­dochmasila were part of a War­ring­ton team that suf­fered its sec­ond grand fi­nal de­feat of the sea­son af­ter los­ing to the Cata­lans Dragons in the Chal­lenge Cup fi­nal at Wem­b­ley in Au­gust.

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