Autosport (UK)

Meguetouni­f gets mega tune of Marseillai­se



Luke Browning lost his grip on the F3 championsh­ip battle at Imola while continuing the worrying statistic of failing to register a point in any sprint race this season. But it was better news for Oliver Goethe and Sami Meguetouni­f who took their first victories, meaning there is still yet to be a repeat winner in 2024.

Bernd Maylander led the majority of the Saturday sprint race, his Mercedes safety car sent onto the track on four occasions. Reversed-grid polesitter Kaper Sztuka was quickly thrust down the order and out of the podium places, with Noel Leon moving in front from Tim Tramnitz and sixth-placed starter Goethe. But the action was quickly frozen after Mari Boya spun into the gravel at the Villeneuve chicane after contact with Tommy Smith. No sooner had the action resumed when Charlie Wurz kindly assisted Callum Voisin off the track and into the barriers at Tosa, an act that, like Smith’s, resulted in a 10-second penalty.

A trip into the gravel for

Meguetouni­f, after making contact with the rear of Dino Beganovic, made it three interrupti­ons, and then Maylander completed his private game of Connect Four with a ‘phantom’ safety car period when Tasanapol Inthraphuv­asak pulled off the circuit. He had restarted and was motoring into the pits when the race was neutralise­d.

Browning was sixth by the final restart, but a half-move on Sztuka at Tosa on the penultimat­e lap put his Hitech GP car out of the race, and the VSC was deployed as cars passed through the area on the final tour. Leon had remained cool on each restart, but the Mexican was caught napping by the ending of the VSC on the downhill run to Rivazza, and Campos Racing-run Red Bull Junior Goethe pounced on the Van Amersfoort Racing man to snatch the win with just two corners remaining.

The drama continued post-race when Goethe and Tramnitz, who had finished third, were handed five-second penalties for speeding behind the safety car. This meant Leon collected the winner’s trophy on the podium, but these penalties were reversed an hour after the race, and Leon handed a 5s addition for weaving beyond what was defined as acceptable in the race director’s event notes. That demoted him to third behind the MP Motorsport car of Tramnitz. Beganovic was fourth, but Prema team-mate Gabriele Mini’s superb pass on Sztuka was cancelled out when he had to veer wide to avoid the errant Browning, dropping him back behind the Pole into sixth.

Qualifying had been dominated by the Trident squad, with Santiago Ramos leading team-mates Leonardo Fornaroli and Meguetouni­f in a 1-2-3. The Mexican poleman led initially, but on his home ground Fornaroli got through on the third lap, and Ramos went on to suffer a significan­t mid-race drop off in pace, eventually finishing eighth.

Goethe, on a charge from seventh on the grid, was up to second when Fornaroli hit a kerb, causing the Italian’s engine to shut off momentaril­y and dropping him to fifth. He eventually passed Prema’s Arvid Lindblad and Ramos as he recovered to third.

Goethe now led, but Meguetouni­f managed his tyres beautifull­y and the French F3 rookie made a Drs-assisted swoop around the outside of the Campos car into Tamburello on lap 18 of 22. Another with pace late in the race was Browning, who finished on the gearbox of third-placed Fornaroli, to whom he has conceded the lead in the standings. Lindblad dropped back to seventh behind Prema team-mates Beganovic and Mini.

 ?? ?? Goethe beats Leon to flag on Saturday. The ‘lead’ changed twice after this!
Goethe beats Leon to flag on Saturday. The ‘lead’ changed twice after this!
 ?? ?? Meguetouni­f leads pack at Tamburello
Meguetouni­f leads pack at Tamburello

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