F3 Basil Shaaban seals a top 10 F3 Euro Series finish at Dijon
2009 FORMULA 3 EURO SERIES
Dijon, France, rounds 17 and 18 – October 10th-11th
For immediate release
Monday, October 12th, 2009
LEBANESE F3 RACER BASIL SHAABAN CAPTURES ANOTHER TOP 10 AT DIJON
· Basil Shaaban finishes 10th in first Dijon race in France
· Practice crash forces Lebanese star to start race one from back of grid
· Frenchman Jules Bianchi seals F3 Euro Series crown at Dijon
DIJON (France): Lebanese Formula 3 driver, Basil Shaaban, was forced to start Saturday’s 17th round of the F3 Euro Series from the rear of the grid after surviving a dramatic crash into the barrier during free practice. But the Shell-backed star made a determined surge through the field at the Dijon-Prenois circuit in France to finish an impressive 10th overall.
He was then forced to retire from Sunday’s second race on the fifth lap after falling victim to another driver’s accident, but was upbeat about the weekend’s performance nonetheless. The Abu Dhabi-raised star drives a Shell-backed Dallara Mercedes-Benz F308/309 for Italy’s Prema Powerteam and was delighted with his 10th-place finish in Saturday’s 21-lap race.
“On Saturday, I started 24th, at the back of the field, but kept a positive outlook for the race. After a great start on the first lap I made up four positions. Then I managed to avoid a couple of racing incidents and carried out a couple of assertive overtaking manoeuvres to move up the field,” said Shaaban, who recorded the first ever international F3 podium for a driver from the Arab world in Spain recently.
“After missing the entire qualification session to get myself checked out at Dijon hospital, it was great to finish inside the top 10 for the third time this season and for the third race in succession. Again we proved that giving the maximum is fundamental to success on the track.”
But the Lebanese suffered cruel luck during the second race. “I barely avoided a first lap multi-accident at turn one and fell back to 12th,” said Shaaban. “The race was red-flagged to enable officials to clear up the debris and, on the restart, I managed to move back up to 11th position. But, on the second flying lap, a couple of cars ahead tangled and spun right into my car and that spelt the end of the push for a points-scoring finish. That’s racing!”
A small mistake at the end of practice on Friday had cost Shaaban the chance to take a front-running position on the grid for the first race on the 3.801km circuit, which hosted an F3 Euro Series meeting for the first time.
“I made a small mistake and touched a high kerb during a cool-down lap and crashed backwards into the barrier,” added Shaaban. “It was a big impact that took the wind out of me and I had some back pain afterwards, which made it necessary for me to go to hospital for a check-up. Thankfully an x-ray confirmed there was no vertebral damage and I was cleared to start the race from the back of the grid.”
Frenchman Jules Bianchi held a 23-point lead over Germany’s Christian Vietoris in the overall standings heading into race weekend. He claimed one point for Pole Position for the first race and shadowed Vietoris to the finish in race one for second position to take a virtually unassailable 22-point lead into Sunday’s race. Bianchi went on to claim the prestigious title in style by sealing outright victory in race two.
Bianchi’s success marked the sixth successive F3 Euro Series Drivers’ title to be won by a driver for France’s ART Grand Prix F3 team, which has fielded the likes of F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton and 2009 F1 title contender, Sebastien Vettel.
Shaaban maintained 15th position in the championship heading into the final two races of the season at Hockenheim on October 24th-25th. The meeting will mark the championship’s second visit to the German circuit this season. Basil qualified an historic sixth on the grid last time.
“We’ve shown some dramatic improvement this season, working dedicatedly as a team to improve the entire package,” revealed Shaaban. “Our performances, especially our recent run of frontline results, speak for themselves and we head into the final event of the season as motivated as ever.”
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