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F3 RACE 1: Mansell masters the wet at Spa-Francorchamps

Saturday, July 24 2021

Carlin's Christian Mansell secured his second win of the season in the first BRDC British F3 race of the weekend at Spa Francorchamps.

The Australian started third on the grid, which was based on each driver's fastest lap from qualifying, but passed pole sitter Bart Horsten on the opening lap and then blasted past teammate Zak O'Sullivan for the lead on lap four.

Mansell then pulled away at around a second a lap, while O'Sullivan further strengthened his championship charge with his seventh podium from the 10 races held so far.

Arden's Roman Bilinski claimed his first podium in third place after a battling drive that saw plenty of overtaking moves and a moment or two of wheel banging.

Elite Motorsport's Tom Lebbon held third place for a few laps before being passed by Bilinski, while pole sitter Horsten dropped to fifth by the end of the race, ahead of Lebbon's teammate Javier Sagrera. 

Sebastian Alvarez claimed seventh for Hitech GP, finishing just two tenths of a second ahead of Fortec newcomer Hunter Yeany.

Chris Dittmann Racing's Ayrton Simmons and Carlin's Bryce Aron completed the top-10. 

Horsten held the lead off the start, going side by side with O'Sullivan through La Source. The British driver ran wide over the exit kerbs, allowing Horsten to hold the lead through Eau Rouge and Raidillon.

But O'Sullivan got a good tow down the Kemmel Straight, and moved ahead before reaching Les Combes, with Mansell following him through.

The Carlin pair immediately began to race off into the distance, with O'Sullivan leading Mansell by half a second at the end of the first lap. But the British driver wasn't able to shake off his Australian teammate, and an O'Sullivan error at Bruxelles on lap four was all Mansell needed to slip by into the lead.

Mansell then pulled away rapidly, claiming his second victory of the season by almost four and a half seconds, with O'Sullivan over nine seconds ahead of Bilinski.

The Polish racer started fourth, but dropped to sixth on the opening lap. He began his fightback almost immediately, chasing down Sagrera and passing him after an exciting half lap battle on the third tour, making the move stick down into Pouhon after more than one moment of wheel banging.

After that he turned his attentions to Horsten, who had lost third place to Lebbon on lap three. At the start of lap five, he slipped inside the Australian at La Source, and then chased down the reigning Ginetta Junior champion, moving into the podium spots on lap seven with a move at Les Combes and clinching his maiden podium in just his fourth British F3 contest.

The second race of the weekend is due to start at 18.40 local time, and will again be streamed live on the BRDC British F3 website.

BRDC British F3 Championship, Spa-Francorchamps, race one provisional result:
1. Christian Mansell, Carlin, 8 laps
2. Zak O'Sullivan, Carlin, +4.462s
3. Roman Bilinski, Arden, +13.575s
4. Tom Lebbon, Elite Motorsport, +16.383s
5. Bart Horsten, Hitech GP, +21.096s
6. Javier Sagrera, Elite Motorsport, +21.905s
7. Sebastian Alvarez, Hitech GP, +26.157s
8. Hunter Yeany, Fortec Motorsports, +26.454s
9. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +26.974s
10. Bryce Aron, Carlin, +27.287s
11. Reece Ushijima, Hitech GP, +29.769s
12. Roberto Faria, Fortec Motorsports, +30.576s
13. Jose Garfias, Elite Motorsport, +31.527s
14. Mikkel Grundtvig, Fortec Motorsports, +32.157s
15. Reema Juffali, Douglas Motorsport, +37.862s
16. Max Marzorati, Chris Dittmann Racing, +1m05.515s