British single-seater star Sam Bird achieved his maiden Formula 3 Euroseries podium at Zandvoort on Saturday, 12th July, during the ninth round of the season – the result proving to be the high point of the weekend for Manor Motorsport.

Japanese racer Koudai Tsukakoshi remains the Dinnington squad’s best placed driver in the championship standings in 10th position but a terribly unfortunate weekend at the Dutch venue for the Honda Racing supported ace saw him forced out of both races.

During qualifying on Friday, 11th July, Bird produced by far the best effort of his debut season in F3 Euroseries with the fourth quickest time of 1m 32.372 seconds (167.856 km/h) while Tsukakoshi was just two places further back with the sixth best lap of 1m 32.539 seconds (167.553 km/h).

Niall Breen was 13th on the grid, again another promising run, with a time of 1m 32.851 seconds (166.990 km/h) while Kazuya Oshima had a less satisfying session and could only manage 23rd on the grid with a lap of 1m 33.315 seconds (166.160 km/h).

Bird didn’t make the best of starts to round nine on Saturday but somehow held on to fourth position where he remained to the chequered flag. Although fifth position changed at various points, in the end Yann Clairay became Bird’s closest challenger.

Tsukakoshi moved up to fifth place early on after a drive-through penalty was served on Dani Clos when he was adjudged to have made a jump start. However, the Manor star was forced to retire on lap 15. Countryman Oshima, meanwhile, showed good race performance and climbed through the order very well to finish a highly creditable 14th.

Breen’s ninth place was well deserved but, frustratingly, it meant he just missed out on the reverse grid pole position for round 10. Racing well, the Irishman took the chequered flag just three 10ths of a second shy of eighth placed Robert Wickens – the Canadian instead the driver who was set to start Sunday’s encounter from the top spot on the grid.

After the race though, winner Nico Hulkenberg was excluded from the results due to his car being underweight – therefore, it moved Manor’s finishers up one place each meaning Bird secured his first F3 Euroseries podium and Breen took pole for round 10.

Unfortunately for Breen, the start of Sunday morning’s encounter proved to be a disaster as contact with Wickens sent the Irishman flying into the pitwall and into a bitterly disappointing retirement. Tsukakoshi’s race was also ended prematurely once again when he was taken out after being hit by Edoardo Mortara.

Bird ended the race in sixth place, where he started, while Toyota Development Programme star Oshima had a much better run and climbed through from 13th on the grid to eighth at the finish.

“We’re delighted for Sam that he’s achieved his first podium, he was strong all weekend and hopefully this is the start of a good run of form”, said Manor Motorsport team boss John Booth, “We’ve had some awful luck this year, including this weekend. Hopefully at the Nurburgring we’ll see good finishes for all four cars in both races.”

The 11th and 12th rounds of the 2008 Formula 3 Euroseries will take place at Germany’s Nurburgring a fortnight from now on 26th/27th July.

Full replays of this weekend’s ninth and 10th rounds of the campaign from Zandvoort will be screened on cable and digital satellite channel Motors TV at 23.00 tonight, Monday, 14th July. Check listings for details of additional re-runs.