Brands Hatch Podium For Tsukakoshi
Japanese racer Koudai Tsukakoshi achieved his third podium result of the Formula 3 Euroseries campaign at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 30th/31st August, Manor Motorsport’s fifth rostrum of 2008.The British squad, which is based in Dinnington near Worksop, immediately hit the ground running during testing at the Kent venue on Friday, 29th August, and looked well placed to have at least two cars on the front couple of rows of the grid for round 13.Locking out row two with Tsukakoshi third fastest, 41.782 seconds (166.206 km/h), and British star Sam Bird fourth quickest, 41.795 seconds (166.154 km/h), the team was also represented well by Irishman Niall Breen in ninth place. Kazuya Oshima qualified in 14th position for the opening race of the weekend.With so many cars competing on the short Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, the drivers were split into two groups so in actual fact Tsukakoshi and Bird were second fastest in their respective sessions.Tsukakoshi made a good start to the race and was almost in a position to take second place away from Nico Hulkenberg but couldn’t quite make the pass stick. The Honda Racing backed driver held third until mid-distance when race leader Jules Bianchi pitted for a drive-through penalty, enabling Tsukakoshi to move into second place.He remained there to the chequered flag, crossing the line six seconds behind winner Hulkenberg but a huge 15 seconds clear of third placed Yann Clairay.For Bird, the race was a complete disaster after he was pitched into a spin off the grid by countryman, and former Manor driver, James Jakes. Eliminating Bird on the spot, the chance of a double podium finish for the team ended there too. Oshima crashed out of the race on lap 20 while Breen was hit with some penalties.For race two, Tsukakoshi started in seventh position – the top eight finishers from the opening encounter each weekend are always reversed in F3 Euroseries to determine the first four rows of the race two grid – while Oshima lined up in 22nd, Bird 24th and Breen in 26th and last position.Sunday’s encounter was a typical Brands Hatch Indy Circuit race with little in the way of action. Tsukakoshi came home in eighth position, Bird climbed five places into 19th, Breen followed him home in 20th with Oshima just behind in 21st.Manor Motorsport team owner John Booth said: “Qualifying went very well, Koudai and Sam were both excellent but at the start of the first race Sam was taken out by (James) Jakes. He was out on the spot, weekend over really for him already at that point.“Koudai raced well and second place was a good result, he deserved to be on the podium it was just a shame what happened with Sam as we could have had two drivers up there. Niall had a drive-through penalty and Kazuya shunted out of the race so it wasn’t great for them”Booth added: “Sunday’s race was very uneventful, a typical Brands Hatch Indy race. As a team, we were very quick this weekend and right on the pace from the off during testing on Friday. Other than Koudai’s podium though, things just didn’t go our way which was a real shame.”As things currently stand in the drivers championship, Tsukakoshi is Manor’s highest placed driver in ninth position on 24 points, just 10 points shy of fourth place and only three points away from the top five. In the team standings, Manor is in fifth place.There is now a three week break in the 2008 Formula 3 Euroseries calendar with rounds 15 and 16 taking place at Barcelona in Spain over the weekend 20th/21st September.