Ilyas Takes Seventh and Eighth On Street Circuit Debut At Pau

Double R Racing’s Fahmi Ilyas delivered two impressive performances on his street circuit debut at Pau in France over the weekend, 12th/13th May – seventh place during round seven of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series backed up by eighth in the Grand Prix de Pau itself.Making his first appearance at the challenging Monaco-style circuit, the 20-year-old Malaysian driver made excellent progress in both of the weekend’s races to consolidate 11th position in the British F3 standings and move within just four points of the coveted top 10 in the championship.With British F3 competitors and drivers from the FIA European Formula 3 Championship joining together for the 71st staging of the prestigious Grand Prix de Pau, the grid featured well over 20 cars and Fahmi produced good pace to be in the thick of the action from the outset.Following two free practice sessions on Friday, qualifying took place on Saturday morning with the racers split into two groups due to the tight confines of the 2.76-kilometre circuit. Running as part of the first bunch to take to the track, the London-based driver set a best time of 1m12.211 seconds at the wheel of his Dallara-Mercedes to be ninth in his session – just 0.4 seconds shy of the top six.With second fastest times from the session determining grid order for the opening encounter, Fahmi lined-up 16th on the grid overall and ninth in terms of the British F3 runners. Making an excellent start, he swiftly gained two positions and pressured Hannes van Asseldonk during the first eight laps before a collision at the front of the field on the ninth tour changed the complexion of the race.With the track blocked at turn four, Lycee Hairpin, the pursuing cars were all stacked-up but Fahmi was smartly able to pick his way through into ninth overall, seventh of the British F3 racers, before the Safety Car emerged for three laps. Despite running with the tracking amiss on his Dallara-Mercedes, due to some contact during the early stages, the Kuala Lumpur native held onto his position even though coming under mounting pressure from three European F3 runners. His pace was strong too, lapping with a best of 1m12.470 seconds which was just 0.6 seconds shy of podium pace.“Race one went really well, we made good progress and even though the car wasn’t easy to drive with the tracking being knocked out I managed to score some good points”, said Fahmi, “During the last few laps I was under a lot of pressure but I focused on making no mistakes, being consistent and bringing the car home safely.”In the blue riband Grand Prix de Pau on Sunday afternoon, the Double R driver again progressed well into the top 10 of the British F3 runners. Starting 18th overall on the grid, Fahmi climbed the order as several contenders fell by the wayside with costly errors during the early laps. Up into 14th place overall, seventh in the British championship chase, the Malaysian enjoyed a tense and very close battle with Australia’s Nick McBride and defended superbly until the penultimate lap when he unfortunately lost the position. “It was a really great weekend, Pau is a fantastic circuit and I gained a lot of experience during the two races”, said Fahmi, “You don’t get many opportunities to race on street circuits so it’s going to be very important experience for my career. “With every race I’m gaining more confidence with the car and I was very happy with my pace, especially in the first race. It’s a shame we couldn’t have been a bit higher up in qualifying but we still did a good job and I’m happy with the performance we showed.”Rounds nine, 10 and 11 of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series will take place four weeks from now over the weekend 9th/10th June at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.2012 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series Driver Standings (after Rd8):11th Fahmi Ilyas, 20ptsClick here for the Official Double R Racing web site - designed and built by Racecar