F3 Basil Shaaban creates motor racing history for the Arab world
2009 FORMULA 3 EURO SERIES
Circuit of Catalunya, Barcelona, rounds 15 and 16 – September 19th-20th
For immediate release
Sunday, September 20th, 2009
SENSATIONAL BASIL SHAABAN CREATES MOTOR RACING HISTORY FOR THE ARAB WORLD IN SPAIN
· Shell-backed Lebanese seals third and seventh places in Spanish races
· Basil Shaaban becomes first Arab driver to seal international F3 podium finish
· Frenchman Jules Bianchi extends F3 Euro Series lead to 23 points
BARCELONA (Spain): Lebanese Formula 3 driver, Basil Shaaban, became the first driver in history from the Arab world to score points and claim a podium finish in the prestigious F3 Euro Series this weekend.
The Abu Dhabi-raised star, who drives a Shell-backed Dallara Mercedes-Benz F308/309 for Italy’s Prema Powerteam, scored his first ever points by finishing seventh overall in the first race at the Circuit of Catalunya in Barcelona on Saturday, but that was merely the dress rehearsal for a sensational third position in the longer 36-lap second race on Sunday.
“This is a dream result for my team and I,” said a delighted Shaaban. “For two and a half years I have been working in the F3 Euro Series to be a competitive force, facing so many great challenges, and having more than our fair share of bad luck and misfortune along the way. I have never let the situation get me down and we have all worked so hard for this result. A big thanks goes to my Prema team and my sponsors for all the support and effort they’ve put into my development.
“It means that I am the first driver from the Arab world to score points in the F3 Euro Series and also the first Arab driver to take a podium finish in an international formula championship of this calibre. It is a great feeling and something that I am sure we can build on in the future.”
“Finishing seventh in the first race was the big breakthrough for me,” enthused Shaaban. “Finally putting some points on the board was great for my confidence and enabled me to relax a little more for the second race, which I needed from my front-row starting position.”
“I made a good start in race one and managed to avoid a collision at the first corner to finish the first lap in seventh position. I managed to control a strong pace for the rest of the 25-lap race to finish seventh and create a little bit of history!
“But, to be honest, that was nothing in comparison to race two’s challenges. I had a great launch from second position, taking the lead briefly before locking up into turn one and slotting into second place again.
“I maintained that position for 24 laps, when a small mistake in the final sector leading on to the straight allowed Britain’s Alexander Sims to dive inside me into turn one. From then I drove cleanly to take a very emotional podium finish.”
Shaaban’s superb performance in Spain catapults him into 15th position in the championship after 16 of 20 races. He has also lifted Lebanon to 12th position in the Nation’s Cup, ahead of Brazil and Switzerland.
Shaaban had made an inauspicious start to the most successful weekend of his racing career. “I made a freak contact with a slower car in practice and that cut short my preparations. In qualifying we didn’t optimise the situation, but I managed to slot into 18th position from 25 for the start of race one.”
Frenchman Jules Bianchi extended his F3 Euro Series lead to 23 points over Germany’s Christian Vietoris, after claiming outright victory in the first of the weekend’s races. Bianchi finished fifth in race two, but Vietoris could only manage sixth and fourth in the weekend’s two races.
Before travelling back to Lebanon and the UAE last this week, a jubilant Shaaban now heads to France’s Magny-Cours F1 circuit with his team to test in preparation for the penultimate meeting of the F3 Euro Series at Dijon in France on October 10th-11th.
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