By Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas
- Nasr earns feature race pole
- Oulton Park hosts rounds 4, 5 & 6
- Weather: Hot, dry, sunny.
Changes: No Bruno Mendez (Hitech Racing) who seems to have decided they play too rough out there after Monza and has not to continue in British F3 this year.
After heavy overnight rain, at Oulton Park this morning, Felipe Nasr (Carlin) kept his cool despite a couple of stoppages in what was seemingly an attempt by his team-mates to disrupt matters as much as possible and will start on the front row for both races, with pole for tomorrow's feature race. Second on the grid tomorrow but on pole today is Lucas Foresti (Fortec Motorsport) with Menasheh Idafar (T-Sport) in 3rd for both races. Rookie Class pole both times went to Bart Hylkema (T-Sport), after Kotaro Sakurai (Hitech Racing) failed to complete more than two laps.
At the start of the session it was looking as if we might be in for a Carlin benefit, with Jazeman Jaafar on an early provisional pole. Of course what happens in the earliest stages of a session is often no pointer to how things will go, and this proved to be very much the case. Jaafar was soon replaced by Kevin Magnussen, also of Carlin, while Foresti was mixing up there with the two of them. Scott Pye (Double R) was back on a track he's familiar with and showed quite well initially too. Meanwhile, Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Carlin) took a turn on pole, holding off Nasr before they were split by Foresti. Magnussen pushed on to reclaim pole, while Nasr looked as if he was struggling somewhat.
The top ten, however, was subject to change as was demonstrated when Pipo Derani (Double R) broke into top ten in 5th. Meanwhile, Idafar shot up to 4th and Jaafar pushed Magnussen back to 2nd. Nasr was soon 2nd and was beginning to get into a groove, and it was obvious that this was going to take a little while to settle down. Magnussen then went even faster, proving that he wasn't going to settle for being beaten by the more experienced men in the team. After setting a series of fastest sectors, however, it all went a bit pear-shaped for the Dane and he ended up crashing out and bringing the session to a premature halt while he was retrieved, along with a stricken Sakurai who was unable to make it back under his own steam.
The order at this point was Magnussen though given the suspension damage he'd be lucky to hang onto it, leading from Nasr, Jaafar, Svendsen- Cook, Foresti, Idafar, Carlos Huertas (Carlin), William Buller (Fortec Motorsport), Derani and Harry Tincknell (Fortec Motorsport). Riki Christodoulou (Hitech Racing) was 11th ahead of Jack Harvey (Carlin), Pietro Fantin (Hitech Racing), Fahmi Ilyas (Fortec Motorsport), Yann Cunha (T-Sport), Adderly Fong (Sino Vision Racing), Pye, Hywel Lloyd (Sino Vision Racing), Hylkema and Sakurai.
At the restart it didn't take long before Nasr started to crank it up again, and a series of sector personal bests for the Brazilian made it clear that he was a long way from done with this session. Idafar was another starting to string it together neatly. While Tincknell improved to 9th and Buller to 8th, and were joined by Pye and Fantin, Idafar quietly nabbed 3rd while no one was looking. Jaafar was just behind the Bahraini, while Svendsen-Cook improved to pole, dislodging Magnussen. A further improvement from Buller saw him leapfrog to 4th and suddenly the changes were coming thick and fast again. Christodoulou edged into the top ten for 9th with Pye just ahead of him in 8th. Fantin improved again for 5th but Idafar was on a charge and his next flying lap was just shy of Svendsen- Cook's best time so far. Jaafar was also making progress too and was now 3rd while Huertas, who'd looked good at Monza, seemed somewhat lacklustre today and could only manage 9th, and that only until Tincknell came round and shoved him back to 10th. A lap later and Idafar was on pole, and one more lap was enough to give him a second pole. And then he was pulling into the pits for new tyres, but before the team could send him back out, the red flags were out again, this time for Svendsen-Cook, who'd gone off somewhere in the boonies and needed rescuing.
This time Idafar was fastest overall, from the errant Svendsen-Cook, Jaafar, Tincknell, Magnussen, Pye, Nasr, Buller, Fantin and Huertas. Christodoulou was now 11th, and Foresti was 12th, just ahead of Derani, Harvey, Cunha, Ilyas, Fong, Lloyd, Hylkema and Sakurai, who was clearly not going to get back out, no matter how many team-members swarmed over the car. To the surprise of those watching Nasr was on it almost immediately and promptly shot to the top of the times. With Foresti also on the pace, it looked as if we might be looking at a Brazilian front row. Foresti didn't move forward as fast as Nasr, but at the end of his first flying lap he was 5th, and a lap later he was 4th. He was running out of time, but was unperturbed and as the flag was readied he snatched 2nd, and on his very last lap was able to repeat the stunt to deny Nasr two poles.
With some improvements in the pack, but not many, it was pretty much all over. Harvey improved to 13th but is clearly struggling with the step up from Formula BMW, as have many drivers before him. With the flag out, Nasr pulled into the pits anyway, and topped the times for the feature race (Race 3) ahead of Foresti, Idafar, Svendsen-Cook, Jaafar, Buller, Tincknell, Magnussen, Pye and Huertas. Fantin was 11th, from Derani, Harvey, Christodoulou, Lloyd, Fong, Ilyas, Cunha, Hylkema and Sakurai.
For Round 4 (Race 1), the order was Foresti, from Nasr, Idafar, Jaafar, Pye, Huertas, Buller, Tincknell and Svendsen-Cook. Christodoulou was 11th from Derani, Harvey, Magnussen, Ilyas, Fong, Lloyd, Cunha, Hylkema and Sakurai.