Taylor Barnard fended off Christian Mansell to claim his and Jenzer Motorsport’s maiden feature race win in FIA Formula 3 at Spa-Francorchamps.
The race took place on a slippery track where the tyre choice played a crucial role. On the way to the grid, Hitech GP’s Gabriele Mini went off the track and damaged his car, and was unable to take part in the race.
Despite the wet track surface, most cars fitted slick tyres on the grid and the formation lap took place behind the safety car. A rolling start followed and the cars on wet tyres quickly started to gain positions.
Prema’s Paul Aron claimed the lead of the race at Les Combes, having overtaken nine cars from his grid spot. Barnard, MP Motorsport’s Mari Boya, Campos Racing’s Christian Mansell and Bedrin completed the top five in the early stages of the race.
Meanwhile, Campos Racing’s Pepe Marti, who had started on pole, dropped outside the top 10.
On lap four of 15, Trident’s Oliver Goethe, who was on slicks, lost control of his car on the way up to Raidillon and crashed into the left-hand side barrier, bringing the safety car out.
Aron, who had built a nine-second gap at the lead in four laps, headed into the pit-lane to fit dry tyres, along with Boya and Rodin Carlin’s Ollie Gray. The three drivers rejoined the race in seventh, eighth and ninth places respectively, ahead of the drivers who had started the race on the medium compound.
Even behind the safety car, PHM Racing by Charouz’s Roberto Faria spun out of the race at Les Combes.
The race resumed at the end of lap seven and Barnard led the pack ahead of Mansell and Bedrin. Further down the field, Van Amersfoort Racing’s Caio Collet drove past those who had pitted to become the lead driver on slick tyres in seventh.
On lap 10, Mansell attempted to pass Barnard for the lead of the race at Les Combes, but he couldn’t stop the car and had to take the run-off. The Australian emerged ahead of the Briton, but had to let him by and kept putting pressure on him.
The battle continued and Mansell tried again to pass Barnard around the outside of Les Combes, but the Jenzer ace was able to hold him off.
Gray and Hugh Barter collided at the Bus Stop chicane as the Williams junior tried to overtake the Campos driver. Gray parked his damaged car at the pit-lane entry and yellow flags were waved, but no safety car was deployed.
Barnard went on to win the race with a one-and-a-half seconds advantage over Mansell. Jenzer team-mates Bedrin and Alex Garcia followed in third and fourth place.
Collet made the most out of a drying track in the last laps to finish fifth ahead of Hitech’s Sebastian Montoya and PHM’s Sophia Florsch, who were on grooved tyres.
Aron’s eighth place and Marti’s ninth mean they are now the only drivers that could take the title away from Trident’s Gabriel Bortoleto, who finished just outside the points in 11th. His chances are slim though as they sit 38 and 39 points behind the Brazilian in the standings with 39 points up for grabs in the season finale at Monza.
Race result (15 laps)
|1||Taylor Barnard||Jenzer Motorsport||39m50.104s|
|2||Christian Mansell||Campos Racing||+1.529s|
|3||Nikita Bedrin||Jenzer Motorsport||+7.703s|
|4||Alex Garcia||Jenzer Motorsport||+8.915s|
|5||Caio Collet||Van Amersfoort Racing||+20.053s|
|6||Sebastian Montoya||Hitech GP||+20.172s|
|7||Sophia Floersch||PHM by Charouz||+20.533s|
|9||Pepe Marti||Campos Racing||+30.172s|
|10||Franco Colapinto||MP Motorsport||+31.547s|
|13||Mari Boya||MP Motorsport||+34.910s|
|15||Kaylen Frederick||ART Grand Prix||+35.959s|
|17||Nikola Tsolov||ART Grand Prix||+40.127s|
|18||Tommy Smith||Van Amersfoort Racing||+43.351s|
|19||Jonny Edgar||MP Motorsport||+45.093s|
|20||Gregoire Saucy||ART Grand Prix||+45.875s|
|21||Rafael Villagomez||Van Amersfoort Racing||+51.388s|
|22||Hugh Barter||Campos Racing||+1m09.043s|
|23||Luke Browning||Hitech GP||+1m38.817s|
|25||Michael Shin||PHM by Charouz||+1 lap|
|Ret||Roberto Faria||PHM by Charouz|
|DNS||Gabriele Mini||Hitech GP|
|Fastest lap: Saucy, 2m18.289s