26 May Fortec filled podium at Silverstone
24th-25th May, Silverstone – The Cooper Tires British Formula 3 Championship was at Silverstone this weekend and Fortec led the way. The team of Martin Cao, Matt Rao and Marvin Kirchhofer took podium finishes in race one and two plus a 1-2-3 finish in race three.
Race one of the weekend started behind the safety car due to torrential rain hitting the track. After three laps the flag was dropped, leaving just eight laps of the race.
Starting from pole, Cao was determined to maintain his position but after a brief off track excursion the Chinese racer was overtaken and slipped down into second.
GP3 racer Kirchhofer was soon putting pressure on Cao for second. The two battled it out in the tricky conditions with Cao coming out on top and going on to pull out a lead over third place Kirchhofer.
“The rain made conditions very tricky,” commented Kirchhofer. “There was a lot of water on the straights and at some points it was quite difficult to keep the car on track.”
With two laps to go Cao was on the charge, putting in a fastest lap and catching the car in front. However with time not his side Cao went on to take the chequered flag in a very respectable second, four seconds ahead of teammate Kirchhofer. Teammate Matt Rao also went on to have a good race, keeping his car on the wet track to finish fifth.
Saturday’s second race took place under dry conditions but a chaotic start set the tone for the rest of the race as the weather took a turn for the worse half way through.
Starting from pole Rao was looking determined to lead the field. However, as the lights went out the British racer made a mistake and Kirchhofer took advantage, powering into the lead before the first corner and building his lead to almost three seconds.
Behind, several incidents saw various racers retire but Rao and Cao stayed on track as they fought their way up the order. The two then made contact and touched wheels as they battled for second place but there was damage and the pair fought on behind Kirchhofer.
The rain then begun to fall and, as Cao chased from second, Rao fell back and went into the pits for new tyres, soon emerging to maintain his third place position behind Cao. However disaster was soon to strike when Rao went off track and was forced to retire. A red flag then bought an end to the race seeing Kirchhofer crowned the winner with Cao second.
Kichhofer said: “I had a good start and took the lead and then just pulled the gap. After some laps there were just some small raindrops and then more and more, so quite tricky conditions on slick tyres in the rain. At the end, I just tried to keep it on the track. That worked out.”
The third and final race of the weekend took place on Sunday morning in dry conditions. The team rounded off the weekend in style taking a 1-2-3 finish, which saw Kirchhofer take the win ahead of Cao and Rao.
German Kirhhofer took the lead from Cao on the first corner and pulled out a lead of two seconds as he entered his second lap. Rao had lost his third place start position to Andy Cheng (Double R) but quickly regained it when Cheng went off track.
The Fortec 1-2-3 continued with superb form, and despite a few advances from the rest of the field the trio cruised to the chequered flag.
Kirchhofer commented: “The last race today was really good. I had a good start again and took the lead and just pulled a big gap to the end. I am quite happy now with this result for my first weekend here at Silverstone. To take two wins and one third place is a really good result and I got a really good experience over here. I am really thankful to Fortec who gave me this opportunity and now I am looking forward to the GP3 race.”
“The race today went well. I felt that we could have got Cao at the end but once we got anywhere near him there was too much turbulent air so we couldn’t really catch him. We wanted a safe move, especially since he’s my teammate. I’m happy with the result, it’s good to get some points and a bit of silverware.”
The next round of the Copper Tires British Formula 3 championship will take place at Snetterton on the 21st-22nd June.