At Silverstone this afternoon James Calado (Carlin) took his second win of the weekend, again having to hold off Oli Webb (Fortec Motorsport) to do so. 3rd went to Felipe Nasr (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) who snatched the place from Daisuke Nakajima (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) in the final stages of the race. The National Class was won by James Cole (T-Sport) from his team mate Menasheh Idafar, after the latter spun out of the lead early on. The Invitation Class went to Alexander Sims (ART Grand Prix), from Esteban Gutierrez and Jim Pla, both also ART Grand Prix drivers.
This time almost everyone made a clean start with no issues for any driver apart from Daniel McKenzie (Fortec Motorsport) who stalled it as the lights went out and only got going after everyone else had left and Kevin Chen (Sino Vision Racing) who once again did not actually start the race. Calado didn't hesitate and got off the line as if he was jet-propelled. Webb went wide and almost lost a place at the start, while William Buller (Hitech Racing) settled into 3rd. Back in the pack it was all go, with Adriano Buzaid (Carlin) being harassed by all and sundry, while Nasr made a poor-ish start and lost out to Nakajima, the Japanese putting in another impressive performance in his second year. Further back Alex Brundle (T- Sport) was attempting to fight off Idafar.
At the front didn't take Buller long to get by Webb for 2nd, while Jean-Eric Vergne (Carlin) was harassing Nasr, though he couldn't do much about the Brazilian because he was having to give equal attention to Sims who was just behind him. Of course it was debatable what anyone could do in a 40-minute race with questionable tyres given the track conditions. The person having the hardest time at this stage, though, was probably Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) because he now had Sims on his tail. It didn't take long for the ART driver to get by and just for good measure Gutierrez went for it as well, squeezing past the Malaysian. In the middle of the pack there was a cluster of cars moving about madly, including Gabriel Dias who was doing a fine job of holding off Gutierrez and was in fact making progress through the field, escaping the Mexican's attention when he managed to barge past Carlos Huertas (Raikkonen Robertson Racing). Gutierrez tried to go too but clashed with the Colombian, banging into his rear wing before he could get past. They were followed through by Pla, Huertas in trouble after the contact. At the front, meanwhile, Buller ran wide, which was all the opportunity Webb needed. He was past and in pursuit of Calado now that he had an empty track ahead of him. It looked as if the leader was going to have his work cut out again...
And as if that wasn't enough excitement for one race, there was a lot of excitement further back too. McKenzie, in his attempt to make up lost ground, had just set the fastest lap of the race, despite being almost last, while the middle ground was occupied by a squabbling, boxed in mob behind Dias. With Calado still pushing on at the front (and getting a new fastest lap), Buller was losing ground on the leaders and it looked as if Calado and Webb might have an easy run to the flag. Buller, in fact, proceeded to lose out to Nakajima, before Nasr also went through. Just behind them Vergne was bottled up behind Buzaid and still had Sims with him - and it seemed Sims wasn't planning on going away any time soon. Further back Rio Haryanto (C F Racing with Manor) and Idafar collided and Haryanto went off, the Indonesian having made a robust attempt to get through a non- existent gap. It cost Idafar the National Class lead and didn't make Haryanto look too clever so it was no surprise when the messages on the screen suggested the incident was being investigated.
However all of that was secondary to the battle for the lead where Webb was now making inroads into the gap Calado had established, setting a new fastest lap as he did so. Behind the pair of them Nasr tried to get past Buller while Vergne was challenging for the place from Nasr. It was hard to know where to look next with all the excitement the new Silverstone layout was providing. One of the things worth watching was what was happening to Buller. Nasr found a way through and it seemed to open the floodgates. With one Brazilian through, Buzaid was next and then Vergne dived up the inside of the youngster. It must have felt like the whole world was going by, especially as Sims and Jaafar went too, with Dias trying to pass Jaafar at the same time.
The rot was only stopped when Luiz Razia (Team West-Tec) ground to a halt on the main straight, parking his car up against the pit wall. Needless to say it wasn't the safest place to leave a car, and the officials had no option but to scramble the Safety Car, thus forcing the pack to maintain station and bunching up the leaders again.
The order at this point was Calado, from Webb, Nakajima, Nasr, Buzaid, Vergne, Sims, Jaafar, Buller and Gutierrez. In 11th was Rupert Svendsen- Cook (Carlin), ahead of Brundle, Lucas Foresti (Carlin), Pla, Huertas (who was really struggling now), Brundle, Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing with Manor), Max Snegirev and McKenzie and Cole. Jay Bridger (Litespeed F3) was 21st from Idafar and Adderly Fong (Sino Vision Racing) who spun off just before the Safety Car was scrambled.
It took three laps to get the stricken car shifted and with 18 minutes and a handful of seconds left they got to go racing again. Calado didn't allow Webb the slightest chance to take the lead from him and pulled away again as fast as he could. Vergne meanwhile had to defend himself fiercely against a deeply determined Sims. Vergne wasn't about to give in though and bravely broke away under braking. Dias, meanwhile, was looking for a way past Jaafar, while Nasr and Nakajima were going at each other too. They were perhaps fortunate that Jaafar was proving to be a very effective cork in the bottleneck, keeping the rest of the pack contained behind him.
With the race looking unlikely to run full distance Gutierrez was still pushing and he now joined the list of people picking on Buller. His first attempt ended with him sliding about on the grass before he was able get control again. By he time they got to Vale the Mexican found his way around the outside of the Hitech driver. It suddenly seemed that the ART boys had got a grip on the Cooper Tires because Sims had also found his form again and was past Vergne. Admittedly JEV wasn't about to make a fight of it as Sims wasn't going to cost him any points, being an Invitation Class runner.
Calado was now coming under serious pressure from Webb, who had a go on the way to Brooklands only to get the door closed firmly in his face. Webb jinked to the inside and Calado simply moved across to defend his lead. It was stirring stuff. Behind the two of them Nasr attacked Nakajima again, but he wasn't really close enough. He would have to bide his time a little longer. A pair who weren't biding their time was Brundle and Huertas, the two of them clashing as Brundle tried to get past. Huertas ended the race being pushed to safety by the marshals, while Brundle limped to the pits to have a new front wing fitted. Neither of them were having the best of days it seemed.
Sims on the other hand was having a good day and he gained another place by the apparently simple expedient of driving around the outside of Buzaid to claim 5th on the road. He would gain another place before the race ended after Nasr got the drop on Nakajima at Copse, and Sims went with him. It soon became apparent that Nakajima was in trouble however. With everyone's tyres going off now, and the weather finally improving, Buzaid and Vergne were now catching the Japanese too. Buzaid nipped past easily, but Vergne wasn't quite so lucky - a brief bout of wheel-banging occurred before Nakajima pulled off onto the grass on the very last lap with a suspected broken driveshaft. And then, suddenly, it was all over. Calado won from Webb, though only just, and Nasr picked up his first podium of the year. 4th was Sims, the Buzaid and Vergne, the latter still leading the series. Jaafar survived to claim 7th from Dias, Gutierrez and Buller. 11th was Svendsen-Cook, ahead of Foresti, Pla, Lloyd, McKenzie, Snegirev, Cole, Idafar (who nearly caught Cole in the final couple of laps), Fong and Brundle. 21st - but awarded Driver of the Weekend as some compensation - was Nakajima.
Fastest laps went to Webb, Idafar and Sims.
Weather: Dry, extremely cold, windy.
Next Meeting: Rounds 7-9, Magny-Cours, France, 22nd/23rd May 2010
See also: Sims snatches sprint win at Silverstone