Da Costa and Cliffe double up
Antonio Felix da Costa and Tristan Cliffe share the honours in the final race of the 2012 F3 Cup season at Snetterton 300.
28/10/12 - Antonio Felix da Costa once again showed his class by taking the outright victory in the final F3 Cup race of the 2012 season today (28 October) at Snetterton 300. While Da Costa took the win, local man Tristan Cliffe finished his campaign on a high with a double Cup class victory.
The slippery damp conditions failed to catch out Red Bull driver Da Costa as he surged to another convincing win, helping the Carlin driver in his preparations for the prestigious Macau GP next month. Cliffe followed him home in second with James Abbott third on the road and second in class.
With the track still damp only, three drivers elected to brave the conditions on slicks and it proved to be their downfall as the majority of the field on wet tyres made a strong start. Da Costa held onto his pole position advantage with Tristan Cliffe in second. However, the Omicron Motorsport driver did have a look for the lead into Riches, only for the door to be firmly shut. Lanan Racing's James Abbott was third with Chris Needham fourth. New F3 Cup champion Chris Dittmann elected not to start the race along with Double R Racing's Kevin Korjus and Louis Hamilton-Smith.
The decision to race on slicks came to haunt Jeremy Timms as he slipped down the field early on after starting from third on the grid. He then locked his wheels at Montreal and the unlucky Prajesh Shah collected him, forcing the pair out of the race, bringing out the safety car.
Da Costa made no mistake at the restart and he almost immediately regained his advantage from Cliffe. Just behind the pair Needham looked racy trying a move on Abbott into Riches, but the former Radical Clubman's Cup champion held onto his position. There was disappointment for one of the title contenders Gino Ussi as he spun and retired at Montreal.
Meanwhile the Red Bull F1 test driver continued to show his class further extending his lead with Cliffe moving into the distance in his mirrors. Abbott managed to fend off Needham with Mark Harrison and David Scott enjoying strong performances behind.
The race at the front settled down but there was plenty of action behind with the Mark Bailey Racing duo of Frank Thomas and Nick Robinson involved in a cracking scrap with Philip Austin and James Ledamun.
In the end da Costa proved to be too strong and he took the final race win of the season from Cliffe and Abbott. Needham finished in fourth just ahead of Mark Harrison, Scott, Neil Harrison and Dave Karaskas, who won the Trophy Class. Robinson and Wiltshire rounded out the top 10.
The result for Cliffe gave him the Cup Class title fr 2012 and his Omicron Motorsport team won the Teams' crown following Tony Bishop's 14th place finish.
Race winner Da Costa said: "This was the perfect build up to Macau and I hope to take these strong performances there. It wasn't an easy race with the safety car but I have to say it has been a fun weekend all round."
Cup Class winner Cliffe said: "I could have asked for the drivers championship but Chris won that and he was a deserving winner. It's been a fabulous weekend for us to win the Class, the Team's title and two outright wins if you ignore Da Costa. It doesn't get much better than this."
F3 Cup Race 2 Snetterton 300 Full Results
1. Antonio Felix Da Costa, Carlin (Inv) 9 laps
2. Tristan Cliffe, Omicron Motorsport (Cup) +37.912s
3. James Abbott, Lanan Racing (Cup) +41.615s
4. Chris Needham, (Cup) +47.987s
5. Mark Harrison, Magic Motorsport (Cup) +49.024s
6. David Scott, Chris Dittmann Racing (Cup) +56.893s
7. Neil Harrison, Magic Motorsport (Cup) +1.29.619s
8. Dave Karaskas, (Trophy) +1.38.891s
9. Neil Robinson, Mark Bailey Racing (Cup)+1.41.793s
10. Stuart Wiltshire, Mark Bailey Racing (Cup)+1.42.390s
11. Frank Thomas, Mark Bailey Racing (Cup) +1.56.157s
12. Philip Austin, (Trophy) +1.56.521s
13. James Ledamun, (Trophy) +2.07.459s
14. Tony Bishop, Omicron Motorsport (Cup) +1 lap
15. Juan Serda, (Masters) +1 lap
DNF Gino Ussi, Grays Motorsport (Cup)
DNF Jeremy Timms, Chris Dittmann Racing (Trophy)
DNF Prajesh Shah, Chris Dittmann Racing (Trophy)