Vanthoor takes first win in epic race
Date published : 02 Jul 2011 - 09:22:20
Laurens Vanthoor overcame a clash with Signature team-mate Daniel Abt to take his maiden F3 Euro Series victory in a frantic wet/dry race at the Norisring.Belgian Vanthoor was as much as 41 seconds adrift of the lead around half distance, as Roberto Merhi (Prema) and Marco Wittmann (Signature) charged off into the distance on wet tyres while the track was still damp.Most of the field had initially opted for wets on the grid, but everyone except Merhi, Wittmann, Carlos Munoz and Sandro Zeller changed to slicks before the start.Signature's Munoz ruined his chances of a good result by spinning on the opening lap, leaving Merhi and Wittmann to open up as much of a lead as they could while Vanthoor and the rest slithered around behind.However, as the track dried and the slick runners began to set faster lap times shortly before half-distance, those on wets had to come in for a pitstop.Merhi's Prema crew took much longer than Wittmann's in the pits, and the pair rejoined eighth and ninth with the German ahead.That left Vanthoor in the lead from fellow Signature driver Abt. The pair were less than a second apart for the next 13 laps until Abt made a late move into the first corner on lap 36, leading to contact.Abt broke his right front suspension and was forced to retire, while Vanthoor's car survived with only slight damage, leaving him to nurse it home and take a comfortable win.Wittmann recovered to second, passing Mucke driver Nigel Melker three laps from home. Merhi, who had led Wittmann by 13s before they pitted, paid the price for his slow stop and could only get back to fourth.Abt's retirement promoted German F3 racer Alon Day to eighth place on his Euro Series debut. That gave the HS driver a point, and pole position for the second race of the weekend.The results remain provisional as the officials are investigating potential yellow flag infringements during the race.