Needham triumphs in epic three car battle to win Oulton Opener

22/10/11- Chris Needham came through an entertaining three car tussle for the lead to win the opening F3 Cup race of the day at Oulton Park.

22/10/11 - Chris Needham came through an entertaining three car tussle for the lead to win the opening F3 Cup race of the day at Oulton Park. Mark Harrison was second with debutant Tristan Cliffe finishing a creditable third.

Needham started well but had to sit behind race leader Harrison during the early stages before capitalising on a mistake, which propelled him into the lead. The Lancashire man had to fend off debutant Tristan Cliffe before taking the chequered flag for the third time this season.

The race began with drama on the formation lap as Aaron Steele was forced into the pits with a gearbox issue and he eventually rejoined the race a lap down. However, Harrison made a clean start from pole position with Cliffe, Needham and Mark Terry all battling for second place at the first corner. Terry slipped passed Cliffe for third, while Needham lead the chase for the lead in second. Further down the grid, Lanan Racing's Kat Impey made a strong start and moved into fifth with a move around Dave Karaskas.

At the front, Needham continued to pursue Harrison, and Cliffe impressed on his F3 Cup debut by passing Terry for third at Old Hall. The battle for the lead soon developed into a three way tussle with Harrison, Needham and Cliffe split by less than a second. But Terry's hopes of a podium came to an abrupt end with electrical failure, which forced him into retirement.

On lap six the lead changed as Needham slid down the inside of Harrison at Lodge after running wide. Cliffe soon followed Needham through into second and the Monoposto 2000 champion set his sights on the lead. The Norwich racer tried a move on Needham but outbraked himself at Knickerbrook, handing Harrison second spot.

Meanwhile the recovering Aaron Steele, who has won the majority of the races this season, was setting a blistering pace and was on the verge of creeping into the top ten.

While the front three began to separate from each other, all eyes turned to a titanic battle for fourth involving Impey, Karaskas and Nick Robinson. In the end, Karaskas managed to get the better of Impey to cross the finish line in fourth, but further up the road Needham took the chequered flag from Harrison and Cliffe.

F3 Cup Race One Result:

1. Chris Needham
2. Mark Harrison
3. Tristan Cliffe
4. Dave Karaskas
5. Kat Impey
6. Nick Robinson
7. Neil Harrison
8. Stuart Wiltshire
9. Aaron Steele
10. James Ledamun