Laguna Beach race-car driver Michael Lewis drove in the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium, finishing sixth in the Formula 3 Italia Championship.
Lewis arrived at the seven-kilometer track (4.35-mile) with high expectations after two previous team tests put him among a group of drivers with top lap times.
About halfway through the qualifying session, Lewis recorded a strong lap time of 2:15.548 that held for second place on the time charts. However, after the completion of the session, the steward applied a penalty to driver Kevin Giovesi, which moved Lewis to his first pole position of the F-3 Italia season.
“My engineer Fabio Zilio worked his magic and gave me a car to qualify that was absolutely perfect,” Lewis said.
Dry, sunny conditions during practice gave way to a downpour prior to the 4 p.m. start on Saturday, Aug. 6. Lewis got off well to build a 1.8-second gap on French driver Maxime Jousse. Jousse began to diminish the gap with two laps to go. The two cars ran nose to tail for the last two laps and then Lewis prevailed, crossing the finish line first to record his initial Formula 3 Italia race win.
For Sunday’s second race, the weather cleared for a 10 a.m. start. The qualifying order reverses so Lewis started eighth among 14 cars.
In the Spa’s first turn, Lewis’ car was hit from behind and then spun off the course as the rest of the field went by. He was able to quickly start the car and join the race at the back of the back, even with a damaged suspension. At the wave of the checkered flag after 12 laps, Lewis recorded a sixth-place finish.
“Without the contact suffered at the start of Race 2, Lewis would have held on to the championship lead,” predicted Angelo Rosin, PREMA Powerteam’s principal.