Marteau masters Zolder!
Apex Racing Academy iRacing F3 VRS Super Series R3 Zolder
Paulo Draeta arrived at Zolder for the third round of the Apex Racing Academy VRS Super Series with a slender early advantage over Connor Bell. After a dominant victory at Imola, the Brazilian ace will hope to extend his advantage in the Belgian forests.
Qio-Tiago Marteau prevailed in a vital qualifying session and started on pole position. Following a revision to the ARA F3 format, the entire field would line up for the opening race, rather than the customary heat races. In fifth overall, Bart Daelman topped the AM class field at his home race.
Utilising pole position to full effect, Marteau sprinted into turn one at the front of the field. Will Redford slipped into second place on the opening lap. However, a mistake at the fickle Klein chicane on lap two handed second place back to Connor Bell.
Within five minutes, Marteau had extended his advantage to nearly five seconds over Bell and championship leader, Draeta. In the closing moments of the opening encounter, a bizarre error from Bell at the Jacky Ickx chicane sent the Canadian into the wall at pace. Thus, allowing Draeta to advance to second place without fuss. Nevertheless, Marteau had been the star of the show in race one with a dominant drive.
AM class polesitter Bart Daelman’s spell at the front of the field was short lived. A costly error at turn one early on allowed Simen Brunstad to come through and win the AM class ahead of Chuck Mauro.
By virtue of his stunning performance in race one, Qio-Tiago Marteau began the twenty-minute feature race on pole position. Championship leader, Paulo Draeta, joined Marteau on the front row. Thus, setting up a tantalising duel for honours.
A sluggish getaway nearly cost Marteau dearly on the run to turn one. Immediately behind the polesitter, Steven Westerhof rocketed off the line and dived for the lead on the inside line. Resulting contact sent both Westerhof and the luckless Draeta off into the gravel. Marteau forged on.
Keen to bounce back from his race one blunder, Connor Bell quickly rose to second place. Perhaps Marteau wouldn’t have it all his own way with Bell close behind?
By half race distance, Marteau had accumulated a crucial three second advantage over Bell, who now had to worry about the emerging Will Redford in third place. Five minutes from the flag, Redford pounced at turn one and pinched the lead from Bell. Despite several valiant attempts to retaliate, Bell couldn’t retrieve the runners up spot and settled for third place.
While Bell and Redford engaged in their duel for second, Marteau continued to accumulate his eventfully unassailable lead. With Paula Draeta mired back in ninth, Marteau’s victory places the Dutch star on top of the championship standings.
Chuck Mauro finished a highly commendable sixth overall to finish top of the AM class.
Will Redford: “I had good pace but made some rookie mistakes. I was on pace for pole until the hairpin, but my braking marker was a shadow and it had moved slightly!”
Connor Bell: “I was really having trouble at the final corner. It was super slippery. I messed up my heat race and had some close calls in the feature, but overall it was an ok day.”
Chuck Mauro: “It was crash management out there! I actually had a really good race this time around. I’m happy with the result today.”
Simen Brunstad: “That was chaos through turn one and two. I managed to find a gap and get through. I tried to stay with Marteau but he got away.”
The streets of Montreal await the ARA F3 VRS Super Series drivers for round four on the 11th of May. Tune in to Apex Racing TV at 7pm GMT to catch all the action.