OSHIMA CLAIMS MAIDEN F3 EUROSERIES WIN IN BARCELONADinnington based Formula 3 Euroseries team Manor Motorsport enjoyed a return to the winner’s circle at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on Sunday, 21st September, with Japanese star Kazuya Oshima claiming his maiden category win from pole position.The Toyota Development Programme backed racer, who is taking part in his first season of F3 Euroseries competition this year, has had some misfortune so far but everything came good over the weekend during rounds 15 and 16 as he enjoyed, by far, his most successful outing of the championship.Rising from 18th on the grid to eighth position in race one, his result also saw him claim pole position for the second encounter by virtue of the fact in F3 Euroseries the finishing order from the opening race on any given weekend sets the grid order for race two – with the exception of the top eight which is reversed.Securing his maiden pole position start, the 21-year-old reigning All-Japan Formula 3 and Super GT300 Series Champion made a perfect getaway and was never headed as he steered his Mercedes powered Dallara chassis to a 3.5 second winning margin – the team’s first triumph of 2008.After securing his maiden points in Barcelona, a delighted Oshima said: “It is just great, especially as my season has been very difficult so far and I didn’t score any good results before this weekend.”The event certainly proved to be quite fruitful for John Booth’s renowned team with British star Sam Bird finishing second during the first of the weekend’s races, having started round 15 sixth on the grid. He also posted the fourth fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m 07.499 seconds.Running in third place as the race passed mid-distance, Bird took second on lap 22 when then leader Yann Clairay missed his braking point at turn one to allow Nico Hulkenberg through into first position and Bird into second.“Being on the podium is just great”, said Bird, “It has been quite a long time for me without a podium, which wasn’t easy. I had a good start and benefited from the accident at the start between Jules Bianchi and Richard Philippe. When Nico (Hulkenberg) overtook Yann (Clairay) I could get past as well.”In Sunday’s race, which Bird started from seventh position on the reverse grid, he was only able to manage an 18th place finish after being spun out at the first corner by German driver Hulkenberg. Manor team-mates Niall Breen and Koudai Tsukakoshi didn’t have the best of weekends although the Irishman did at least take a couple of solid finishes – 16th position in race one and 15th place in race two.Honda Racing protégé Tsukakoshi endured one of his most frustrating outings of the year. After being taken out on the opening lap of round 15 on Saturday, he ended Sunday’s 16th round six laps down in 24th position after yet more dramas following contact from another driver.
Speaking at the conclusion of the weekend, Manor team boss Booth said: “It was a fantastic win for Kazuya, he drove very well and from a team perspective it’s great to be back on the top step of the podium. “Unfortunately Sam was spun out at the first corner which was a shame as he’d made a very good start and it was disappointing after such a good podium on Saturday. Niall had a couple of steady races but Koudai had a lot of misfortune – it was a nightmare for him.“Kazuya was a bit fortuitous to get the reverse grid pole position for Sunday’s race as he picked up eighth place in Saturday’s race with just a couple of laps to go but it was deserved nonetheless. It’s not been a bad weekend at all for Manor Motorsport.”Next stop on the 2008 F3 Euroseries calendar is a visit to Le Mans in France a fortnight from now, 4th/5th October, for the 17th and 18th rounds of the season – the penultimate event of the championship.Television re-runs of this weekend’s action in Barcelona will be screened on digital satellite and cable channel Motors TV tonight, Monday, 22nd September, at 21.00. Please check listings for details of further broadcasts over the coming days and weeks.