Oliver Turvey came close to dominating the Spa rounds of the British F3 International series, setting the fastest time in two practice sessions, scoring pole for both races, and winning the first one.
But his chances of a clean sweep disappeared during the green flag lap for the second race, when he felt his engine lose power. He lined up on the grid in the hope the problem would disappear – but it didn’t.
It was an anti-climactic end to a weekend that had delivered him his second win of the season and briefly moved him up to second in the championship – a position he lost after his second race disaster.
The Racing Steps Foundation driver said: “It’s a massive disappointment but the battle for the championship is far from over yet – we’ll come out fighting even stronger for the next rounds at Silverstone and if we can win those, it will go a long way to making up for today.”
Until his failure to make it away from the second race start line, the only slight hiccup in Turvey’s weekend had been the start of race one, when his Carlin team-mate Brendon Hartley got down his inside into the first corner to take the lead.
But, as Hartley headed down the hill into Eau Rouge for the first time, Turvey fought back and was alongside as they headed up the hill to Les Combes with the Englishman getting the better line to regain the lead.
From there he and Hartley were untroubled right to the chequered flag. Or, rather, the point at which there should have been a chequered flag. It failed to appear, so the drivers raced on for another lap – although the result was declared based on the positions at the end of the regulation 12 laps.
Turvey said: “I didn’t make the best start but here it’s not a big issue really. There’s the long straight up to Les Combes, so once I dropped to second I just decided I was going to slipstream Brendon down there, which I managed to do, and from then on it was just a matter of controlling the race from the front.
“So to get a second win – and for it to be here at Spa – is just fantastic for me, the Racing Steps Foundation and the team.”
In the National Class race, Sheffield’s Stefan Wilson – younger brother of the IRL’s Justin – fought his way past rivals Jay Bridger and Salman Al Khalifa to take victory.
Race two belonged to Hartley, despite losing postions at the start by braking to avoid Turvey’s stranded vehicle. His loss was a gain for Nick Tandy and Sergio Perez, who led exiting La Source despite starting fifth and sixth on the grid.
It took eight laps for Hartley to work his way back up from fifth to pass Tandy for second, and he didn’t arrive on Perez’s rear bumper until the start of the final lap.
The two cars were side by side out of Eau Rouge and up the hill for Les Combes with Perez holding the inside line and looking safe – but Hartley left his braking to the last possible second and swept past with perfect timing.
The win moved Hartley up to fourth in the championship, on 142 points. Turvey is third with 150, while in front Jaime Alguersuari leads Perez by a single point, 164-163. The next two races will be at Silverstone on August 16.