Sam proved his racecraft once again, battling from a lowly 22nd on the grid up to 7th at the chequered flag in the prestigious F3 Masters race at Zolder, Belgium.
In the pre-qualifying session, the BP Ultimate driver found himself struggling with a defective set of tyres. With nearly forty runners, the sessions were divided into odds and evens, with only the top ten from each group going through to the A qualifying session to determine grid slots 1-20. Having run at the top of the tables early in the session Sam could not keep up his challenge on his faulty new tyres and missed the cut by 0.018 of a second, leaving him trailing in 11th place, and therefore in the B group, which would determine grid places 21 to 37.
With another new set of tyres in qualifying group B, Sam was able to show his real pace and posted the 2nd fastest time of 1.24.90. Had the qualifying been decided purely on lap times, Sam would have qualified in 7th place. However, this more complex format meant he would have to start 22nd on the grid.
“I had severe understeer in pre-qualifying and it was found that in fact my new tyres were not quite up to standard” said Sam diplomatically after qualifying “so I will just have to make up as many places as I can in the race.”
The CJ Motorsport driver made a great start and was already up to 13th by the end of the first lap, having overtaken seven cars before the first corner, and picked his way around a crash involving Renger van der Zande and Koudai Tsukakoshi. He then displayed superb pace and skill to successively overtake several of his rivals, including Euroseries leader Edouardo Mortara and UK F3 Championship leader Jaime Alguesuari, courtesy of a classic overtaking manoeuvre around the outside of turn one. He then made up ground on Atte Mustonen but was unable to make a pass and took the chequered flag in a remarkable 7th place.
“The tyre problem in pre-qualifying was most unfortunate, and I believe that without that, I would have started from the front 3 rows and could have challenged for a podium, but that’s racing. I’m confident we can carry over the form we have shown here to the rest of the Euroseries championship and I’m really looking forward to the next race at Brands Hatch, where I have had quite a bit of success in the past.”
The F3 Euroseries continues at Brands Hatch on August 30/31.