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2012 British Formula Three Champions Carlin will be taking a total of six cars to the prestigious 59th Macau Grand Prix next month. Carlin will take the two most recent British F3 champions in the form of Jack Harvey and Felipe Nasr, and race winning F3 drivers Carlos Sainz Jnr and William Buller. Completing the team’s largest ever showing at the blue riband event will be GP3 front runners Antonio Felix da Costa and Daniel Abt.

Making his racing debut at Macau this year will be newly crowned British F3 champion Harvey, who sealed the 2012 title following an impressive double victory at Donington last month. The Racing Steps backed driver will be looking to carry the momentum from his season into the 59th edition of the Grand Prix.

“It’s great to go to Macau as the British F3 Champion,” says Harvey. “I went last year with Carlin to experience the atmosphere however I wasn’t racing so I can’t wait to get in the car this year. It’s possibly one of the biggest and most important one off races we see on the single seater calendar so to be able to go there as the most recent British F3 Champion means a lot to me. To take the win on my first visit would be extremely tough however I’m going to be pushing hard to finish my season on a high!”

Harvey’s team mate Sainz Jnr will race with Carlin in Macau for the first time in November, although the 18 year-old Spaniard raced on the challenging street circuit with another team in 2011. The Red Bull Junior, who has seen an initially promising season plagued with bad luck and incidents, is aiming to get back to his race winning ways and show his potential in Macau this year.

Sainz’s Formula 3 Euro Series team mate Buller is also Macau bound with Carlin. The Northern Irishman, who has been a race winner in both F3 and GP3 this season will be making his third visit, and is aiming to improve on sixth place in last year’s incident strewn race.

Making a return to Carlin’s F3 squad will be 2011 British F3 champion Nasr, who finished second in both last year’s Qualifying Race and Macau Grand Prix last year. Despite having moved up to GP2 this season, the Brazilian racer still feels there is unfinished business around the Guia circuit.

“I’m very happy to be returning to Macau with Carlin,” said Nasr. “We were quick last year so I’m very excited to be joining the team again for this race. It’s going to be a challenge for me after a year of GP2 where the cars are more powerful and will probably take a little while to get used to but I’m really looking forward to it because it’s such a special race.

“Winning at Macau has been a goal of mine since the start of my career so I’m going to push hard for this race and go for the win!”

Also in the mix in the Volkswagen powered Carlin Dallaras will be GP3 front runners da Costa and Abt. Both drivers have raced wheel to wheel this season, with da Costa challenging for the GP3 title with Carlin, and Abt creating a thrilling season finale to finish just two points shy of eventual champion Mitch Evans. Both drivers have shown fantastic ability this season to lead from the front and fight their way through the field, which could be important in the typically incident packed Macau street races. Both drivers have experience of Macau, with da Costa suffering the misfortune of a broken first gear after qualifying second for last year’s event.

Trevor Carlin added, “Macau is an extremely important event on the motorsport calendar and one that is fondly remembered by all drivers who have competed there. With only the new 2012 F3 cars eligible for entry into Macau this year, it was more important than ever to support the event with a strong line-up to allow it continue as a highlight of junior motorsport for many years to come. With our 2012 team we have one of our best line-ups ever and the potential to produce a classic Macau Grand Prix.”

Antonio Felix da CostaIt was a hard weekend of racing for the Carlin GP3 team in Monza with Championship contender Antonio Felix da Costa failing to score points in the first race after an electronic gearbox glitch left his car stuck in sixth gear – dashing his title hopes. Da Costa was looking at serious championship points at the time after his main rival Mitch Evans was forced to watch from the sidelines following damage to his car on the first lap. Buller was involved in a brilliant fight for position during both races, finishing 10th and 12th respectively while Brundle sustained heavy damage to his car in the first race and came through the field in the second to finish 10th. Despite da Costa’s title frustration, Carlin finish the season third in the teams’ championship.

Starting from the front row of the grid the first race of the weekend got off to a messy start as the cars streamed into the first corner. Managing to take avoiding action da Costa held second place in the race before snatching the lead from Matias Laine before the end of the first lap. In taking avoiding action alongside da Costa his main championship rival Evans damaged his car and was forced into retirement – leaving the Carlin man suddenly looking like the title favourite.

Buller had also had a great start and avoided the chaotic first corner accidents however Brundle wasn’t quite so lucky from his starting position; losing his rear wing in the first corner he was black flagged a few laps later.

At the front da Costa was fighting well in the knowledge that the championship was looking good for him. He lost position to Daniel Abt and Aaro Vaino in the next couple of laps but was staying close to the two leaders and remained very much in the hunt for the race win. But disaster struck the Red Bull Junior driver with an electronic gearbox glitch left him stuck in sixth gear – and rapidly falling down through the pack. Pulling the car to the side of the road da Costa resolved the problem using the master switch to restart the car however this subsequently left him lying near the back of the field as a result.

Buller meanwhile was involved in a great battle for position with Conor Daly, Tamas Pal Kiss and Giovanni Venturini which resulted in positions changing almost every corner. Out of the battle Buller would cross the line in 11th position however a time penalty for Laine brought Buller into position to take the final point in 10th.

Da Costa was pushing hard despite his heartbreak and crossed the line in 15th place where he would start for the second race of the weekend.

With no championship to fight for da Costa started the race with the aim in mind to make his way up the field and solidify his third place in the championship standings. Once again the Carlin man was quick off the line and was eighth by the end of the first lap and challenging those ahead. Driving strongly he made up a handful of positions to fifth while Evans and Abt were in their own respective battles for championship glory. At the chequered flag, da Costa crossed the line to secure third in the championship in what has been an incredible impressive year for the Portuguese racer.

Meanwhile Brundle had started well from 23rd on the grid and was making his way through the pack. The British racer made the most of every possible overtaking opportunity and crossed the line in a solid 10th place.

Buller’s race was similar to yesterday’s with a multitude of drivers after the same position. While trying to avoid the spinning car of Laine, Buller was forced into a spin which ultimately lost him a handful of positions – taking the flag in in 14th position.

Reflecting on his championship battle, da Costa said, “Its racing and it happens. It’s a shame because the team have worked so hard and I was so, so close to the title. I could actually feel it as I was driving around yesterday and then it was snatched away from me. But we’ve had an amazing season and I’ve enjoyed the racing and working with the team.”

Trevor Carlin added, “Our GP3 team and drivers have done a fantastic job this season. Third in the drivers and teams’ standings is a great achievement, and if it hadn’t been for a very cruel stroke of luck yesterday, Antonio could have been looking at first in the championship. I think both the team and Antonio will be remembered for raw speed this season, which has given us a great foundation for the future.”

Photo by Daniel Kalisz/LAT Photographic.

Antonio Felix da CostaCarlin’s GP3 squad enjoyed a quick opening session ahead of this weekend’s penultimate round of the GP3 Series. Turning 21 today Antonio Felix da Costa was the highest placed man for the majority of the session however ended Free Practice, around the wet Spa-Francorchamps circuit, in second position. Alex Brundle remained in the top five for most of the running while William Buller also had a strong showing despite carrying damage to finish 12th in the tricky conditions.

The so-called unpredictable weather at Spa predictably showered the circuit with a rain storm before and during the early morning GP3 session; heading out on a wet track the difficult conditions immediately became clear with John Wartique heavily crashing into the barriers at Eau Rouge. Although fine himself, the damage to the barriers needed a significant amount of fixing which left the session under red flag conditions for 20 minutes.

When the track went green the conditions had improved vastly which saw the times begin to quickly fall – da Costa had been holding the top spot throughout the disruption. Buller was on the pace in the early laps however his car sustained damage which meant he was unable to get the most out of the improving track.

Da Costa kept his car at the top of the timings with two very quick laps in short succession. Team mate Brundle was lying in fourth however the two Carlin men were the first to take the chequered flag; last gasp laps from Tio Elinas and Conor Daly knocked da Costa to second and Brundle to fifth as the session came to a close. Buller held on to 12th place on the drying track.

Reflecting on the disrupted session da Costa said, ‘There was a big crash early on in the session which brought everybody back into the pits. I was the fastest car before the red flag and we stayed there afterwards too however I caught a little bit of traffic in my last two laps so lost the top spot, but I’m feeling confident going into tomorrow.

‘We’ve got to the stage where we know that the car is quick in each session we go out and I really enjoy driving it so I’m looking forward to hitting the track again!’

Photo by Daniel Kalisz / LAT Photographic.

William BullerBritish team Carlin have completed a strong final pre-season GP3 test this week, ahead of the first race of the season in Barcelona next month. Carlin racer Antonio Felix da Costa has been consistently among the top three and finished yesterday’s running second overall. William Buller and Alex Brundle were also on the pace, setting the fifth and 14th quickest times yesterday.

The final pre-season test at the historic British circuit provided drivers with the last opportunity to prepare for the 2012 GP3 Series before the season gets underway in Barcelona in May. As the cars took to the cold track on for the first day of testing on Tuesday morning, rain looked a likely possibility. However the skies cleared and it was da Costa who quickly set the quickest time in between red flag periods. Team mates Brundle and Buller were also producing great times on the dry track – easily placing them within the top eight.

As the session came to a halt for lunch da Costa’s time was knocked off the top spot by MW Arden driver Mitch Evans meaning that the Carlin man finished the session in a very strong second position. Also having set fast times throughout the session Buller and Brundle finished comfortably in the top 6, setting the fourth and sixth quickest laps respectively.

The afternoon session saw mixed weather conditions with rain falling toward the tail end of the day, meaning the majority of the quickest times from the morning session still stood. At the end of the first day of running da Costa was third overall, Buller fifth and Brundle eighth.

The second and final day of testing was also marred with mixed conditions leading to multiple red flags. The slippery track didn’t worry da Costa however, who set the fastest time and despite others battling to steal his position, the Carlin driver finished the morning session as the quickest man on track. Buller was also on the pace again and made it two Carlin cars in the top five, while Brundle saw both his new tyre runs ruined by red flags and was 14th quickest.

Da Costa’s best lap from the morning session was enough to make his second fastest of the day overall, just behind MW Arden driver Mitch Evans.

Reflecting on the test, the Portuguese racer said, “It was a really good test for us at Silverstone. The car felt quick in all conditions and on new and old tyres which is encouraging. I still feel like we can make some improvements but we’re in really good shape ahead of the first race of the season and I can’t wait to get to Barcelona.”

Trevor Carlin added, “The team have completed an extremely encouraging test at Silverstone this week, and all three drivers have been amongst the front runners at some point. Antonio’s previous experience in the series is clearly paying off, and Alex and Will have continued to improve with every session in the car. With a very strong GP3 driver line-up now confirmed, the team are pushing harder than ever as we head to the first race of the season confident that we have a good package to challenge for race wins.”

Antonio Felix da Costa finished the final day of GP3 testing in Estoril third fastest for Carlin today, while Alex Brundle and William Buller set the thirteenth and sixteenth fastest times of the afternoon session at the Portuguese circuit.

With dry running and sunshine on the cards the morning session of the day saw the Carlin team continue a detailed test programme with Brundle, da Costa and Buller all setting competitive lap times and working hard on car set-up.

Da Costa was quick from the outset, finding his way to the sharp end of the timing sheets in the first and second session. Having had experience in the series before, the Portuguese driver continued to improve in the Carlin car and found himself sitting in the top three for both the morning and afternoon sessions.

Speaking of his positive test, da Costa said, “I think we can say that we were extremely consistent in our running during this test. I finished three out of the four sessions in the top three and I definitely felt that the car was good enough to be higher up than that – I couldn’t get a faster lap in during the final afternoon because I hit a little bit of traffic but the car felt good and I’m extremely pleased with how the test went.”

Alex Brundle also impressed the team with his feedback and performance in his first GP3 Series test. Brundle used the morning session to once again get more experienced with the GP3 machinery; with this being the young Brit’s first outing with the team and in the series, the main aim was to get miles on the clock and gain experience throughout the course of the test. He proved his potential by improving 0.5 seconds each practice session – all the while getting closer to his more experienced rivals.

Reflecting on his first GP3 test, Brundle said, “We worked today mainly on getting the most out of the tyres, and I feel as though we achieved that which made me more confident in the car. I want to carry this momentum into the second test and ultimately the first race of the season.

“The car feels great, it’s using the tyres well and although it’s a steep learning curve for me I think we can take a lot of positives from this test”

Former F3 racer Buller used the afternoon session to full advantage, completing race simulation runs and practice starts. He had clean running throughout the course of the day’s test and once again showed his pace, providing the team with great feedback over the two days of track action.

The second GP3 series test gets underway in Barcelona on 6th March.