DA COSTA TAKES SEC­OND MA­CAU GP VIC­TORY

Motor Sport News - - Racing Reports - Pho­tos: LAT

An­to­nio Felix da Costa held off a late at­tack from Felix Rosen­qvist as the old guard of the Ma­cau Grand Prix ruled the roost in the 2016 run­ning of For­mula 3’s blue-riband race.

Da Costa took the lead off Car­lin Dal­lara-Volk­swa­gen team-mate Ser­gio Sette Ca­mara af­ter the first of two safety-car pe­ri­ods, get­ting the slip­stream off the Brazil­ian Red Bull Ju­nior, whose plans to put the ham­mer down early were foiled by the late switch­ing off of the safety car’s lights.

The sec­ond cau­tion pe­riod ended with a text­book restart from BMW fac­tory-con­tracted da Costa. Sette Ca­mara man­aged to draw along­side on the long run down to the Lis­boa bend, but the Por­tuguese had the in­side line.

Soon da Costa faced a po­ten­tial new chal­lenger in Rosen­qvist. The Swede had strug­gled for speed for much of the week­end with the all-con­quer­ing Prema Pow­erteam squad, but rad­i­cal changes to the set-up of his Dal­lara-mercedes paid off in the fi­nal. Rosen­qvist, win­ner of the pre­vi­ous two run­nings of the event, raced from sixth to third, and then passed Sette Ca­mara for sec­ond into Lis­boa on the penul­ti­mate lap.

It looked as though Rosen­qvist might just have enough pace to catch da Costa, and he set fastest lap to close the gap to one sec­ond head­ing into the fi­nal tour. But that wasn’t quite close enough to get into the tow, and da Costa was able to bag a sec­ond Ma­cau win to add to his 2012 vic­tory, which was also earned with Car­lin.

Sette Ca­mara hung on for third, ahead of a bat­tle for fourth, which was taken by Ja­panese cham­pion Kenta Ya­mashita over Cal­lum Ilott.

Ya­mashita was given the bless­ing of his pa­trons at Toy­ota to switch to Bri­tish team T-sport for Ma­cau, driv­ing the Brackley squad’s Three­bond-backed, Tomei-en­gined car. He proved a star all week­end, fea­tur­ing in the fight for pole and in the lead­ing bunch through both races. His fight with llott was an en­ter­tain­ing one, the Brit strug­gling for bal­ance in this race in his Van Amers­foort Rac­ing car. Ilott had made a stun­ning get­away from sec­ond on the grid to lead into the Reser­voir kink, but Sette Ca­mara, da Costa and Ya­mashita all towed past him on the run down to Lis­boa, where he found him­self on the out­side line and was also passed by Rosen­qvist.

Ge­orge Rus­sell took pole po­si­tion for the qual­i­fi­ca­tion race in his Hitech GP car af­ter a stun­ning per­for­mance in the quicker Fri­day ses­sion. Most of the field went out on used tyres at the start be­fore head­ing to the pits for new Pirellis half­way through. But from then on the ses­sion was in­ter­rupted by nu­mer­ous red flags, while light rain be­gan to fall near the end. De­spite this, Rus­sell pulled out a mon­ster lap to take pole from Ilott, with da Costa lin­ing up third.

As Ilott would find out on Sun­day, Rus­sell’s crack­ing start to Satur­day’s qual­i­fi­ca­tion race proved coun­ter­pro­duc­tive as he was slip­streamed by Ilott, da Costa and Sette Ca­mara. He lost a fur­ther place to Ya­mashita be­fore the end of the race, and fin­ished fifth, but was still con­fi­dent for Sun­day. Up front, da Costa made the most of a safety car to tow past Ilott at the restart. Ilott kept da Costa on his toes for the rest of the race, but couldn’t quite get close enough to mount an at­tack.

Rus­sell’s op­ti­mism proved ill-founded, with both the Brit and 2011 Ma­cau-win­ning team-mate Daniel Jun­cadella strug­gling for straight-line speed in the Grand Prix, de­spite go­ing ul­tra-low on down­force. It re­sulted in Car­lin’s Jake Hughes, the GP3reg­u­lar Brum­mie hav­ing just his sec­ond race week­end in F3, mak­ing brake-lock­ing passes on Jun­cadella and then Rus­sell to grab sixth, and the honour of best Ma­cau rookie.

Dou­ble R Rac­ing looked in de­cent shape in the qual­i­fi­ca­tion race, with Dan Tick­tum pro­duc­ing an eye-open­ing drive to take ninth place af­ter hold­ing off ex­pe­ri­enced team-mate Alexander Sims, whose qual­i­fy­ing ef­forts were ham­pered by a late red flag on a lap that should have put him fourth on the grid. Tick­tum’s bid in the Grand Prix ended when he was taken out in a col­li­sion with Pe­dro Pi­quet, who went on to fin­ish ninth in his Brab­ham Bt52-liv­er­ied Dal­lara, while Sims fin­ished 10th.

Lando Nor­ris briefly held pole po­si­tion on his Ma­cau de­but, but his chances were ru­ined when he crashed on the first lap of the qual­i­fi­ca­tion race. The For­mula Re­nault Eurocup cham­pion charged his Car­lin car up from 26th on the grid to 11th at the fin­ish, and will surely be a ti­tle con­tender in F3 next sea­son.

The other Brits didn’t get a chance to shine. Sam Ma­cleod looked on for a top 10 with Fortec Mo­tor­sport but bent a track­rod in a brush with the wall in the qual­i­fi­ca­tion race, then was forced wide by a multi-car col­li­sion (in which he was not in­volved) in the fi­nal and fin­ished 17th.

Jann Mar­den­bor­ough strug­gled with his B-max car’s in­abil­ity over the bumps all week­end and ended up 20th.

An­to­nio Felix da Costa took win Da Costa surged ahead to take his sec­ond Ma­cau GP

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