Championship leader Daniel Ricciardo ended a losing streak of eight races for Carlin Motorsport by winning the first British Formula 3 race of the weekend at Spa this afternoon.
The Red Bull-backed Australian streaked away from his third pole position of the season, broke the tow on the first lap and strolled to a comfortable victory.
Teammate Max Chilton started alongside on the front row, but stalled and tumbled down the order. Welsh racer Hywel Lloyd lost the opportunity to cash in on a career-best fourth place on the grid, when he clipped Chilton's stricken Dallara-Volkswagen while trying to squeeze around his rival on the outside line. Both toured back to the pits with the resultant punctures.
A collision at La Source eliminated Fortec's Riki Christodoulou, championship contender Walter Grubmuller (Hitech) and Double R's Daisuke Nakajima on the first lap and the safety car was thus deployed for a couple of laps.
Renger van der Zande held second initially, but struggled for pace and eventually fell to fourth as ART teammates Jules Bianchi and Valtteri Bottas each found a way past. Bianchi set off after Ricciardo, but even with the fastest lap of the weekend so far he couldn't bridge the gap, while Bottas only made it past van der Zande on the penultimate lap and was left too far behind to challenge after getting caught up in an early fight with Double R's Carlos Huertas.
The Colombian just about hung on to Bottas and van der Zande, but he had stalled on the green flag lap and failed to restart before all his rivals had left the grid, so a penalty dropped him from fifth to 18th. Thus American driver Jake Rozenzweig was promoted to fifth on his British F3 debut for Carlin, while T-Sport's Adriano Buzaid, who has pole for tomorrow's second race, rounded out the top six.
ART's third driver Esteban Gutierrez survived contact on the start/finish straight with T-Sport's Wayne Boyd, who disappeared from the race with three laps to go, to finish seventh, three seconds clear of Fortec's Victor Garcia, who kept out of trouble to take eighth.
Chilton and Lloyd recovered from their startline drama to round out the top 10, while Fortec's Daniel McKenzie claimed an unchallenged National Class victory after T-Sport's Gabriel Dias, who ran as high as sixth overall early on, dropped to the tail of the field with a quarter of the race to run.
Pos Driver Team Car Time/Gap
1. Daniel Ricciardo Carlin D/V 32m06.562s
2. Jules Bianchi ART D/M +1.509s
3. Valtteri Bottas ART D/M +8.869s
4. Renger van der Zande Hitech D/M +9.817s
5. Jake Rozenzweig Carlin D/V +19.529s
6. Adriano Buzaid T-Sport D/V +24.505s
7. Esteban Gutierrez ART D/M +25.945s
8. Victor Garcia Fortec D/M +28.523s
9. Max Chilton Carlin D/V +28.817s
10. Hywel Lloyd CF Racing D/H +32.725s
11. Philip Major Carlin D/V +34.542s
12. Henry Arundel Carlin D/V +38.070s
13. Jay Bridger Litespeed M/H +38.531s
14. Stephane Richelmi Barazi-Epsilon D/M +38.689s
15. Daniel McKenzie Fortec D/H +39.837s
16. Kevin Chen Double R D/M +52.721s
17. Nico Marroc Racing Experience D/M +1m11.237s
18. Carlos Huertas Double R D/M +1m12.424s
19. Victor Correa Litespeed S/H +1m13.323s
20. Gabriel Dias T-Sport D/H +1m39.575s
Wayne Boyd T-Sport D/V 9 laps
Riki Christodoulou Fortec D/M 0 laps
Daisuke Nakajima Double R D/M 0 laps
Walter Grubmuller Hitech D/M 0 laps