South African Alan van der Merwe took a commanding lead in the British Formula 3 championship by scoring his eight and ninth victories of the season at a rain-drenched Spa Francorchamps.

South African Alan van der Merwe took a commanding lead in the British Formula 3 championship by scoring his eight and ninth victories of the season at a rain-drenched Spa Francorchamps.


Van der Merwe, driving for Carlin Motorsport, was unflappable under pressure from the rapid, but erratic, Eric Salignon in wet conditions as he led from start to finish in the second race.


As pole-sitter Robert Doornbos spun his wheels off the line, second-place starter Van der Merwe lept ahead into Eau Rouge. Despite Salignon being able to close the gap on him significantly in the first half of each lap, the Frenchman never got within a second of the South African-born Dutch resident.


Jamie Green, the only driver capable of catching Van der Merwe in the championship battle, came home third from sixth on the grid after making a good start and dispatching F3 EuroSeries leader Ryan Briscoe for the final podium slot on the inside of La Source on the first lap.


In the first race, which was curtailed shortly after half-distance, Van der Merwe converted pole into his eighth British F3 win of the season.


Despite heading the field into Eau Rouge at the green lights Van der Merwe lost the lead to fellow front-row starter Nelson Angelo Piquet, the son of the three-time F1 champion, on the long drag to Les Combes.


With Piquet struggling for grip in variable track conditions, Van der Merwe needed just one lap to reclaim the lead. After emerging from Eau Rouge right behind his rival's rear wing, Van der Merwe made his move around the outside of Les Combes while Piquet held a defensive line.


This left Van der Merwe's Carlin Motorsport team-mate and title rival on Piquet's tail, and on the fourth lap it was Green's turn to pass Piquet through Les Combes.


After six laps, the safety car was dispatched to clear up Tor Graves' parked Dallara at the Bus-Stop chicane just as it began to rain. After one lap at touring speeds the red flags flew because Rizal Ramli had crashed at Les Combes and needed medical help, handing victory to Van der Merwe.


Green is an almost-insurmountable 73 points behind Van der Merwe. According to Autosport.com, Van der Merwe should clinch the title at Donington Park next weekend.

Original article from Car