Northern Irish racer William Buller endured a tough weekend in the second round of the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series at Oulton Park, but retains a top six position in the early championship standings.
The MSA Team UK driver, originally from Scarva but now based in Northamptonshire, went into the weekend sitting fourth in the championship standings following the first round of the year at Monza a week earlier, where he piloted his Fortec Motorsport-run Dallara Mercedes to three top seven finishes in Italy; including a first podium finish of the year.
However, an incident in the final race of the weekend at Monza meant Will carried a ten-place grid penalty into the Oulton Park meeting, which the team tried to get moved from the grid positions for the opening race so as not to compromise Will’s weekend as a whole. However, the request was rejected by stewards, and the back-to-back nature of the first two weekends of the season meant there wasn’t time available to launch an appeal.
Having qualified sixth for the first race, Will was forced to start from 16th as a result and then struggled to get away from the line due to an issue with his car, which dropped him down the order.
With overtaking opportunities being few and far between around the challenging Cheshire circuit, Will battled hard to make up places but had to settle for 14th at the finish. From the same position for the shorter sprint race, Will again suffered problems getting his car off the line and was unable to climb higher than 13th place when the chequered flag dropped.
Will’s performance in qualifying meant he started the final race of the weekend from sixth on the grid and a stronger start saw him jump up to fifth as the field went through Old Hall for the first time.
Although he kept the pressure on Rupert Svendsen-Cook ahead, Will was unable to find a way through and followed the Carlin driver throughout the 26 lap race to take the chequered flag in fifth.
Despite a tough weekend on track, Will heads away from Oulton Park sitting sixth in the championship standings going into the third meeting of the season next month at Snetterton, with the Formula 3 field set to compete on the new ‘Snetterton 300’ layout for the first time.
“I knew it was going to be a tough weekend due to the grid penalty so it was a case of just trying to get the best results I could from the first two races,” Will said afterwards. “I had a problem at the start of the first two races which meant I couldn’t get away cleanly, but I nailed the start in race three and made up a place off the line.
“The problem at Oulton Park is that it’s very difficult to overtake and it can be a procession once you get round the first corner. The pace was good and I was following closely behind [Menasheh] Idafar and Svendsen-Cook but there just wasn’t the chance to get higher than fifth.
“As a team, we’ve done well this weekend with Lucas [Foresti] getting a win and a second, and Harry [Tincknell] also getting a podium. I think we’ve rattled Carlin as their drivers have made mistakes in both qualifying and the races, so I’m just looking forward to Snetterton and trying to make up some of the points I lost here.
“The new 300 layout is good and it’s a circuit that should be strong for me. I’m confident about my chances and the weekend here has only made me stronger. I’m glad that I can now put the penalty behind me and I’m looking to continue my title challenge with a first trip to the top of the British F3 podium in a few weeks time.”