05 May Fortec dominate at Rockingham
The opening round of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 Championship at Rockingham got off to a great start for the Fortec Motorsports trio of Sam MacLeod, Matt Rao and Martin Cao, who topped the podium in all three races. MacLeod kick started his championship campaign, taking the wins in race one and two, whilst teammate Rao took the top step in race three. Cao also took three podium finishes with a trio of second places.
Starting from pole for Saturday’s first race MacLeod made a great start, defending his lead and pulling out a gap from the rest of the chasing pack. For teammate Rao, he made a failed attempt to take the lead from MacLeod on the opening lap, resulting in the #7 car falling to the back of the field.
Rao fought his way back through the order but made contact with Peter Li (Carlin) at turn two. A safety car was called out as both retired from the race, and the field closed up with MacLeod leading over his remaining teammate Cao.
As racing returned the order remained unchanged and MacLeod took the season opener win with Cao taking second.
The second race at Rockingham saw MacLeod start from fourth on the grid, making an excellent start the young Brit took three cars for the lead. Continuing to gain pace MacLeod had built a gap over second placed teammate Cao. Both continued to maintain their positions up until the chequered flag and took the top steps of the podium.
Rao had found himself at the back of the field for the reverse grid race but managed to work his way up into fourth.
The third and final race at Rockingham saw a reverse of fortunes for MacLeod. After starting from pole he conceded the lead to teammate Rao in the first corner. A battle soon ensued but MacLeod’s ambition to take a hat trick for the weekend was soon dispersed there and then, with the Dallara parked on track.
Rao was now firmly in control of the race and with Cao just behind the pair went on to take another 1-2 for Fortec.
Commenting on the weekend, MacLeod said: “I am delighted that my first weekend in British F3 went so well. To take two pole positions, two wins and two fastest laps is a great result. Given that I was not able to test prior to the race I am especially happy. My goal was to fight at the front and learn, and we certainly achieved that. I am really looking forward to Round 2 of the German F3 Championship on 23-25 May.”
Race 1 podium – Cao and MacLeod (courtesy of the British F3)