Arden Motorsport continued their strong start to life in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship with another podium double – including a maiden win – at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium last weekend (23-25 July).
The Banbury-based team made the trip out to Belgium for the series’ annual ‘away day’ on the back of a strong run of form, with three podium finishes from the previous four races heading into the weekend.
Roman Bilinski – the team’s sole entry for this event as Frederick Lubin continues to recover – lit up the timesheets in practice, topping two of the three sessions before translating that pace across to qualifying to secure a second row starting slot.
Despite losing out at La Source on the opening lap of race one, the Polish driver showed great resolve to battle his way back through, making full use of the slipstream that the 4.3-mile Ardennes circuit offers to re-take fourth.
Bilinski then made a late pass on Lebbon after getting a tow down the Kemmel Straight and into Les Combes, to take third – his maiden podium finish in the series.
He then went two better later that afternoon to seal a maiden victory. A strong getaway on a fresh set of Pirelli tyres allowed the 17-year-old to move into second on the opening tour before applying the pressure to race leader and former Red Arrow, Bart Horsten.
He made a pass stick on the Australian one lap later with a superb run up Eau Rouge that allowed Bilinski to power past down the Kemmel Straight, and from there he went unchallenged to the chequered flag, keeping the field at arm’s length to win by 0.8 seconds.
Sunday’s reverse grid race should, in theory, have been the ‘low point’ of the weekend, but again Bilinski was on form, keeping his head in a typically chaotic midfield to make up seven positions over the race distance.
That moved him from the foot of the sixth row to score fifth and maintain his enviable record of finishing in the top five in each of his six race starts in the series to-date.
Bilinski – the top points-scorer in the field across the triple-header - was also recognised for his efforts with the ‘Fastest Driver of the Weekend’ award, and his points have helped cement third for Arden in the Teams Championship.
The BRDC British Formula 3 Championship reconvenes next at Snetterton (300), Norfolk in a fortnight on 07-08 August.
Gary Ward, Arden British F3 Team Manager said:
“I couldn’t be happier for Roman, or the team this weekend. Everybody has put such a shift in, done their jobs perfectly and the results are clear for all to see.
“Roman’s pace right from the first session has been very impressive, and despite some setbacks in the races he was really able to roll up his sleeves and fight back.
“To get his first podium, then his first victory in consecutive races is a superb result, and a really just reward for all the hard work he’s been putting in. This is a seriously competitive championship, so it really can’t be underestimated what a result this is.
“It’s so important to have the car set up right for this weekend, but equally it’s a circuit where you can really make progress in the races, as Roman showed in the final race.
”Now our focus shifts to the next round at Snetterton in two weeks, where we’ll be looking to build on this even further.”
Roman Bilinski (#4) said:
“I’m absolutely delighted with how this weekend has gone. To take my first podium in British F3 at only my second meeting was crazy enough, but to go on and get my maiden victory as well is an incredible feeling.
“I have to say a huge thank you to everybody that’s supported me this weekend, in particular my family, friends and the whole team at Arden Motorsport. The car was absolutely on rails from the get-go, and around a circuit like Spa, that confidence can really make or break your weekend.
“It was also a really complete performance, which as a driver is very satisfying. We didn’t just have the one-lap pace but had to make some passes and get our elbows out too. When you have the car underneath you to manage both, then results like this follow.
“The progress we’ve made in such a short space of time is really quite amazing. I’m still pinching myself a little bit, to be honest!
“We’ve got to re-focus pretty quickly for Oulton Park in F4 next weekend, but I think it’s safe to say I’ll be on cloud nine for a lot of the week ahead!"