Victorious Start To Russell's Euro Title DefenceTweet
George Russell began his defence of his European KF3 crown with an emphatic performance at Varennes (29 April).
The Forza Racing and Intrepid Driver Program member lived up to his pre-race billing as a title favourite with a series of strong performances ahead of Sunday’s finals. In timed qualifying he recorded the second-fastest lap and converted his front row starting position for each of Saturday’s five heats into four clear victories.
With 105 drivers vying for just 34 places on the grid for each of Sunday’s two finals, the competition was understandably fierce. George fell victim to some bad luck in two of his races and ultimately ranked 6th overall in the intermediate classification.
His less-experienced team-mate, Billy Monger also acquitted himself superbly to earn a 7th-row start for the first final.
By the end of the opening lap Russell was already leading, and with each further tour he looked increasingly in control. He was pursued by fellow Intrepid pilot Dorian Boccolacci, but George’s relentless pace and faultless driving ensured that the Frenchman never had a chance to launch an effective attack.
Monger enjoyed an absolute screamer of a start and briefly ran as high as 2nd before engine gremlins forced him to drop back to an eventual 15th place.
The team’s joy at George’s triumph proved to be short lived. Just moments after making another superb start in the second final, Russell had turned into the hairpin when he was hit by an errant drive. Such was the violence of the impact that George was pushed onto the outside of the track and stranded in the gravel. By the time he had managed to extricate himself, any chance of a top five - or even a top ten - finish had gone and he crossed the finishing line down in 26th place.
Billy’s fortunes were a little better and he was able to complete his encouraging weekend with another top-twenty finish (20th).
“Both drivers were exceptionally strong in the build-up to the event,” said Forza team manager Jamie Croxford. “Varennes was the best I’ve seen Billy drive yet. He’s made a big step forward. Similarly, George’s confidence, controlled aggression and raw pace was really impressive. He’s 2nd overall in the championship, so he’s got a good, solid platform to build on.”
George was similarly upbeat and philosophical: “It was a very good weekend, all things considered. I was on pole for my heats, which I nearly won all of. I won the first final comfortably, but yes the accident brought us all down a little. We can drop one race from our total score at the end of the championship, so I’ll be dropping that second final. Hopefully, I’ll have the upper hand at PFi (the Lincolnshire circuit hosts round two on 18-22 July) and we can go on from there.”
This week sees George and the Forza Racing team preparing for the WSK Euro Series’ visit to Val D’Argenton. He currently lies 5th in the championship after last month’s opening race at Sarno, Italy.