This morning's sprint race at Silverstone saw Adriano Buzaid (Carlin) win after Carlin's pit stop strategy proved to be better than that of R?ikk?nen Robertson Racing, the latter's early call of Carlos Huertas robbing the Colombian of a long awaited victory. Third was Jean-Eric Vergne, the latter now closing in on the title and not keen to take too many risks with victory within his grasp. The National Class was won by James Cole (T-Sport), ahead of Menasheh Idafar in the other T-Sport car, while Carlos Mu?oz (Mucke Motorsport) won the Invitation Class.
On the out lap things went wrong for Adderley Fong (Sino Vision Racing), the Chinese driver pulling into the pits for a quick repair to what was initially thought to be a broken driveshaft. That left 23 cars on the grid. As the lights went out Huertas held his nerve and his ground to pull away into the lead, while behind him Buzaid and Felipe Nasr (R?ikk?nen Robertson Racing) disputed 2nd, Buzaid just managing to fend off his compatriot.
With the pit window opening after 2 minutes it wasn't too much of a surprise when people started to pull in to get their obligatory stop/go over with. Basically, the closer to the front you were, the less likely you were to come in early, so the fact that Pietro Fantin (Hitech Racing) came in early from last wasn't a great shock to anyone. Nearer the front Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Carlin) had been demoted to 5th after Vergne got the drop on him in his efforts to move up the order. He would probably have been pleased to note that nearest title rival James Calado (Carlin) had dropped to 8th, no matter that it was only temporary. Right at that moment though he was busy trying to overhaul Nasr and was on the tail of the Brazilian as they reached the Vale. All of this was allowing Huertas to pull ever further away.
The next round of pit stops came a lap later when Svendsen-Cook, Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) and Alex Brundle (T-Sport) all coming in. It was getting busy in there and wasn't helped when William Buller (Hitech Racing) tried to overtake Daisuke Nakajima (R?ikk?nen Robertson Racing) in the pit lane after Idafar braked heavily just ahead of them and seemed to slow rather more than he needed to. Huertas was still pushing on, while Buzaid was being slowed by Nasr and his repeated attempts to get ahead. He was probably relieved when Nasr pitted, thus letting Vergne up to 3rd.
Calado was on the move too, and having found a way past Svendsen-Cook was now actually 4th on the road, and thus looking likely to become a threat to Vergne. Meanwhile Vergne was now closing on Buzaid and Svendsen-Cook was coming under more pressure, this time from Oli Webb (Fortec Motorsport).
There were still a lot of pit stops to go, and the next ones came from Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing with Manor Motorsport) and Jay Bridger (Litespeed F3), who came in pretty much as it became clear just where Nasr had slotted back in. He was now 14th but there were still a good few people ahead of him who hadn't stopped. Vergne was now going quicker than the leaders, though Huertas was still ahead. However, the Frenchman was proving a major nuisance to Buzaid. The situation calmed when Vergne opted to take his stop, as did Webb, Daniel McKenzie (Fortec Motorsport) and Munoz.
Meanwhile Svendsen-Cook was getting a bit wild at Stowe in his efforts to stay in position, while just behind him Vergne made it out of the pits just ahead of Nasr and was able to stay there despite the pair of them coming up fast behind Fong, who was 2 laps down and going very slowly. And then came the call that changed the result. Double R pulled Huertas in for his stop, handing the lead to Buzaid. The Brazilian got his head down and concentrated on opening up a gap, all the while wondering whether he was ever going to get the call to make his stop.
With 2 laps left he was finally hauled in and was able to come back out easily in the lead the gap had grown so much. Meanwhile, the battling pair of Vergne and Nasr were suddenly gifted with clear track as Cole decided that he would take his pit stop now rather than get involved in the International Class battle that was nothing to do with him. Nasr made a couple more attempts to get through but Vergne wasn't going to be dislodged from a podium position. With 3 minutes left to run Buzaid was now comfortably in the lead from Huertas, Vergne, Nasr and Calado. Nasr started to lose ground slightly which was enough to free Vergne up to set off after Huertas. He soon caught the Colombian but there simply wasn't enough time left before the chequered flag. Vergne took a look at Brooklands on the final lap but then thought better of it.
Buzaid came home a very happy winner, from a bitterly disappointed Huertas. Vergne was content with 3rd having beaten off Nasr. 5th was Calado, from Svendsen-Cook, Webb, Jaafar, Lloyd and McKenzie. 11th was Mu?oz, the Spaniard winning the Invitation Class, while behind him was Lucas Foresti (Carlin). 13th was Buller, leading home Gabriel Dias (Hitech Racing), Max Snegirev (Fortec Motorsport), Cole, Idafar, Brundle, Nakajima and Bridger. 21st was Fantin, from Yann Cunha (C F Racing with Manor Motorsport), Juan Carlos Sistos (Team West-Tec) and a very distant Fong, 3 laps behind.
Fastest laps went to Huertas, Cole and Mu?oz.
Weather: Sunny, warm.