Esteban Ocon said it before he arrived at the Moscow Raceway: it was going to be his weekend. With three pole positions and three victories the Frenchman had a perfect score.
Sun 13.07.14, 5:05PM
After setting his second pole position Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) made a perfect start to race 2 unlike his closest rivals Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) and Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin). The young Frenchman took advantage of the situation and opened up a gap after a few corners. He then pushed hard to make the break right from the start.
Thus he clinched victory in race 2 on the first lap. “When I saw that the others didn’t make as good a start as I did I said to myself that I had to drive home my advantage,” explained the Lotus F1 Team Junior driver. “After that it was just a question of controlling the race, in particular the tyres. With a good car, a good team and a good team-mate like Antonio Fuoco behind me, it was much easier.”
Behind Ocon the battle for second place was more indecisive. The group in hot pursuit of the championship leader lost Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) after a few laps due to an alternator problem. Throughout the race Fuoco stayed in front of Blomqvist who was followed by Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Jordan King (Carlin). The Ferrari Driver Academy protégé held on to second till the flag, while Blomqvist was happy to be back in the top 3 after nine races without a podium finish.
Tom Blomqvist was on the front row alongside pole sitter Esteban Ocon in race 3, so it looked like he had a great opportunity. However, he ruined his chances by jumping the start and was given a drive-through penalty. Esteban Ocon led the race from Max Verstappen and Antonio Fuoco.
It looked like it was all over bar the shouting when the safety car was deployed after a collision between Lucas Auer and Jordan King who were at it hammer and tongs for fifth place. The race was restarted for a lap and Verstappen went for broke, but Ocon took the chequered flag in first place in front of the Dutchman and Fuoco. Jake Dennis (Carlin) and Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) completed the top 5.
“Winning three races this weekend wasn’t my aim. What I wanted to do was to score as many points as possible,” explained Ocon. “Everything went off well and then that final lap was a bit strange. It’s always tricky restarting for a lap. Max launched a daring attack: it was pretty close and finally I won – so much the better! Like the Hungaroring this circuit suits my driving style. That‘s certainly the reason why it’s been such a great weekend.”
Esteban Ocon leaves Russia with a lead of 116 over points over Verstappen in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship overall classification. Lucas Auer is third in front of Tom Blomqvist and Antonio Fuoco. The next round will take place in Austria on the Red Bull Ring in early August.
Marklund leads in Belgium after two World RX heats
Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport’s Anton Marklund has made a head start over the other World RX crews competing in Belgium after winning the event’s opening heat.
Sat 12.07.14, 8:08PM
Swedish Rallycross Championship event winner Johan Kristofferson won heat two to hold second overnight with Finn Topi Heikinnen third overall, making it a Volkswagen one-two-three.
A total of 67 drivers are taking part in the sixth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy which is being staged at a brand new rallycross circuit in Mettet. As well as the challenge of a new track, the drivers were also faced with wet conditions as rain fell intermittently throughout the day. The weather did not put off the fans, however, who descended on Mettet in their thousands to cheer on local star Francois Duval and regular World RX drivers such as Koen Pauwels. Hyundai WRC driver Thierry Neuville was also spotted in the World RX paddock today.
“We had two good starts in the heats today and a good start is really important on this track because it is very narrow,” explained 21-year-old Marklund. “On the first heat we made no mistakes and then we had a good position for the second heat but then I started braking a bit too late. We have not had much time for testing recently but I’m feeling more and more confident in the car. I really need championship points this weekend and I feel like I’m ready for a win so that’s what I’ll be fighting for tomorrow.”
After making his World RX debut in Sweden last week, Kristofferson was delighted to be second overnight in another VW Polo. Kristofferson also leads the FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX), of which Belgium is an official points-scoring round. The Swede explained: “The Polo is pretty new to us but the car is running nicely. I’m enjoying the track too – it’s narrow which I like and I’ve had a good start which has helped me for the rest of the track. Tomorrow I want to stay out of trouble and it would be nice to get to the semis – maybe even the final.”
Fourth in the standings and second in Euro RX is Robin Larsson in his Audi A1 Supercar. The Swede, who was also fastest in today’s free practice, commented: “We’ve been struggling a bit since coming second at Lydden Hill – the turbo pressure hasn’t been right and we’ve had some engine problems but today the car is running much better so I’ve been able to concentrate on driving. To win over the top guys in World RX, you need to be 100% on it so tomorrow I need to focus as much as I can.”
Fifth at the end of today was PSRX driver Petter Solberg who finished heat one fourth fastest and followed it up with a sixth fastest time in heat two. Solberg was joined by another former WRC star today as Duval made his World RX debut in a VW Polo RX Supercar but hit trouble during heat one when contact with another car forced the Belgian out of his opening race. Duval then went on to finish heat two seventh quickest and is currently 19th overall.
Elsewhere, it was a difficult day for the Ford Olsbergs MSE team who are currently leading the team standings. Andreas Bakkerud retired in heat one following an engine issue with his Ford Fiesta Supercar while Reinis Nitiss collided with Henning Solberg during heat two and tore the right rear wheel clean off the car.
Tomorrow’s World RX action will continue at 0930 local time tomorrow with two more heats across the Supercar, TouringCar and Super1600 categories. The semi-finals and all-important final will follow in the afternoon.
In the last six races the French national anthem had not rung out at the circuits. Esteban Ocon rectified this by scoring a dominant victory in Russia and putting a stop to Max Verstappen’s long series of wins.
Sat 12.07.14, 1:01PM
At Spa-Francorchamps and then the Norisring, Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) had been dominated by Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) who had racked up six victories on the bounce in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. In Russia on the Moscow Raceway, what mattered to the Frenchman was not nursing his lead in the championship but putting the Dutchman in his place. He began by setting pole position by a wide margin and continued by scoring his sixth win of the season.
“I really wanted to put a stop to Max Verstappen’s run of victories. I’d had enough of finishing behind him,” said the winner of the first race. “I made a good start, probably my best of the season. I wanted to open up a gap in the early laps, and I probably asked too much of my tyres as their performance fell off towards the end of the race and the others were able to catch me. Luckily, it’s not easy to overtake on this circuit. After this victory we have to get ready for the next qualifying session, which is crucial for the weekend’s two remaining heats.”
Behind the Lotus F1 Team Junior driver, Jordan King (Carlin) had a perfect race. He was able to match Ocon’s pace at the start after which he concentrated on fending off Verstappen’s comeback who had snatched third after passing Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) during the second lap. “Like Esteban, I took too much out of my tyres early on,” was how the Carlin driver analysed the situation. “Max closed the gap, but he was never really in a position to threaten me. The outcome of the race was decided at the start so far as I was concerned. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the slightest opportunity to try and overtake Esteban.”
Verstappen rounded out the podium and took some points off Blomqvist and Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), who finished fourth and fifth. Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam), Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam), Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile Mücke Motorsport), Felix Serralles (Team West-Tec F3) and Gustavo Menezes were the other points scorers.
There are two more races on the programme tomorrow Sunday at 12h50 and 17h25 local time.