After a benefit for Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing) in the morning session, it remained to be seen as to whether anyone could overturn the apparent natural order of things at Croft this afternoon. They couldn't was the short answer, though as with...
After a benefit for Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing) in the morning session, it remained to be seen as to whether anyone could overturn the apparent natural order of things at Croft this afternoon. They couldn't was the short answer, though as with many things in British F3 it wasn't the whole of the answer. This time the challenge came first from Carlin Motorsport, but eventually from Jonathan Kennard (Raikkonen Robertson Racing).
As has often been the case this year, Stephen Jelley (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) was among the first to make an impression on the timesheets, but he was not alone with Sam Bird (Carlin Motorsport) and Mario Moraes (Carlin Motorsport) also getting out there and having a go. Alistair Jackson (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) was suddenly and unexpectedly at the top of the order, though only briefly. It wasn't long before Jelley and Bird were back in charge, though Jelley's team-mates Atte Mustonen and Kennard were also keen to get involved, moving into 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The National Class, meanwhile, was being led by Michael Meadows (Raikkonen Robertson Racing), the usual suspects being at the back of the field at this stage, or in the case of Sergio Perez (T-Sport) nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, in the battle for overall pole, Alberto Valerio (Carlin Motorsport) was now joining in and was 4th. However, it wasn't as good as Bird was doing. The rookie was temporarily on pole, but didn't stay there for long. He was being menaced by Mustonen, for one, and the Finn was now 2nd. Jelley then leapfrogged to 3rd, but it suddenly looked very academic as Asmer put in a flyer to go fastest of all. Maro Engel (Carlin Motorsport) was 3rd now, but it didn't look as if he had the answer to Asmer. In fact it didn't look as if anyone did. Certainly Max Chilton didn't, though the Arena International Motorsport driver was 6th, a lot higher than he was used to.
In the National Class, the pole was now in the hands of Salman Al Khalifa (T-Sport), though there was a suspicion he was just waiting politely for his team-mate Perez to grab it back.
At the halfway point, Asmer was in an apparently easy pole, from Bird, Engel, Mustonen, Jelley, Chilton, Moraes, Kennard, Alberto Valerio (Carlin Motorsport) and Michael Devaney (Ultimate Motorsport). They didn't stay that way though. Moraes was trying to make up for his morning session (and possibly for his awful shorts) by putting in a good effort. Just for good measure, Walter Grubmuller (Fortec Motorsport) was now 7th, which wasn't exactly normal either.
Engel moved back to 2nd, while Chilton was still 6th. A further effort from Engel, Bird and Moraes saw all of them improve their times, but they didn't shift position at all, staying 4th, 5th and 6th. Someone who was on the move was Perez, siesta time officially over now. He wanted his usual pole position back, and he wanted it now, thank you. Breen and Engel, meanwhile, were scrapping over 2nd, but they couldn't find the speed needed to get ahead of Asmer, who was the only driver in 1.13s even now. Rodolfo Gonzalez (T-Sport) was also now awake, and was up in 6th, though he ended up back in 7th again when Jelley improved his time. A lap later and he was also ahead of Kennard, though the session was a long way from over even now.
All of that activity dropped Moraes to 7th, and then to 8th as Gonzalez came back at him. Kennard, on the other hand, was now in pursuit of 2nd, though he now had to battle Breen for it. A flyer from Mustonen saw the Finn go up to 4th, though he looked faster, while Engel was forced back to 5th. Bird was also plummeting down the order and wasn't at all happy about it.
After a late start, Greg Mansell (Fortec Motorsport) also suddenly appeared in the top 10, while Jelley wrested 6th from Bird, and people started spinning at the Hairpin, the problem being that with the sun bouncing off the bodywork, no one could work out where it was. Breen did later admit that he'd nearly had his team-mate Bird off, but it wasn't either of them. The next odd thing to happen was that Leo Mansell (Fortec Motorsport) was in the top 16, which is definitely further ahead than you might have expected.
Esteban Guerrieri (Ultimate Motorsport) was another of the late starters, and was now 12th. He really needed to get some work done of he looked likely to run out of time. "Frankie" Cheng was another running out of time, the Performance Racing driver finally joining in and appearing on the screens as 2nd in the National Class along way into the session. He might also have left it too late to do anything about Perez, who doesn't need to do much now to claim the 2007 title.
Meanwhile, the top ten was still in dispute, with Walter Grubmuller (Fortec Motorsport) and John Martin (Alan Docking Racing) now 10th and 11th, ahead of Valerio and Moraes in 12th and 13th. Greg Mansell made a late lunge to 7th, while Guerrieri now nabbed 10th from Grubmuller. A lap later the Argentinean was 8th, while a determined effort from Valerio put him 6th after a very quick lap. Sebastian Hohenthal, on the other hand, was only 13th and had definitely left it a bit late. The last improvement came from Michael Devaney (Ultimate Motorsport), who went 16th while everyone else was pretty much in the pits, preserving their tyres.
Asmer was on pole yet again, from Kennard, Breen, Mustonen, Engel, Valerio, Jelley, Greg Mansell, Guerrieri and Bird. 11th was Gonzalez, beating out Grubmuller, Hohenthal, Martin, Moraes, Devaney, Chilton, Leo Mansell, Perez and Jackson. Cheng was 21st from Francesco Castellacci (Alan Docking Racing), Ricardo Teixeira (Performance Racing), Meadows, Al Khalifa, Viktor Jensen (Alan Docking Racing), Hamad Al Fardan (Performance Racing), Ernesto Otero (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) and Juan Pablo Garcia Samano (Fluid Motorsport).