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Hartley's yo-yo run in Germany

 

New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley salvaged one finish, in eleventh place, from the two Euro Formula 3 Championship races at the tiny Norisring circuit in southern Germany at the weekend

In the second race, starting from the back of a 26-car grid, Hartley charged up to 13th over the first ten laps round the 2.3km circuit, before being shuffled down to 19th after being hit from behind.

Hartley was spun around and had to start again from the back of the field. In spite of suspension damage, he fought back up to 11th at the end of 44 dizzy laps.

It was a disappointing weekend for Hartley almost from the outset. He was hit from behind by his team mate during wet qualifying on Friday; and then slid into the rear of a rival car bringing out the red flag on the first lap of the Saturday race.

Christian Vietoris came through a typically chaotic Euro Series race at the Norisring to take his second victory of the season in Sunday’s race. The Mucke Motorsport driver spent most of his race ahead of the dramas. He benefited from a collision early on between his team-mates Sam Bird and Alexander Sims, which forced the former out of the race from the lead.

Vietoris then passed Roberto Merhi for the lead shortly after a restart on lap nine, and held the top spot all the way to the flag. Behind him there was mayhem.

Jean-Karl Vernay in the leading VW-powered entry sustained race-long pressure to take second place, having been under threat from Jules Bianchi for most of the second half of the race. The championship leader had slowly worked his way up from 11th after making a bad start from eighth on the grid.

The pair briefly caught Vietoris in the closing stages, while dropping fourth-placed Merhi with ease. But after another safety car period near the end, Vietoris made a good restart to get a secure margin.

Following that restart, the final four laps were hectic. Bianchi passed Vernay for second at the first corner with three laps to go, but a lap later he ran wide at the same place and lost the position.

The championship leader struck back diving ahead of Vernay at Turn 2, while Mika Maki, who started 23rd, picked off Merhi for fourth at the same corner. Merhi took that place back with a lunge at Turn 4, but ran wide at Turn 2 on the final lap.

Ahead of that incident, Bianchi lost second again by running wide at the first corner on the last lap. He then came under pressure from Maki, who got a run on the ART driver out of the final corner, and won a thrilling drag race to the line for third place.

There was more to come after the race, with Maki handed a time penalty for overtaking under yellow flags. This handed the final podium place back to Bianchi.

 


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