At Thruxton this afternoon James Calado (Carlin) stole victory away from team-mate and championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne, the latter being denied a last lap shot at reclaiming the win when others in the field proved unable to keep out of...
At Thruxton this afternoon James Calado (Carlin) stole victory away from team-mate and championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne, the latter being denied a last lap shot at reclaiming the win when others in the field proved unable to keep out of trouble. 3rd place in a Carlin 1-2-3-4 went to Rupert Svendsen-Cook who had a pretty quiet race in comparison to some. The National Class was gifted to James Cole (T-Sport) on the final lap when race long leader Menasheh Idafar (T-Sport) tangled with an International Class runner and crashed out within sight of the flag.
Prior to the race start the grid was changed slightly after Gabriel Dias was handed a penalty for excessive weaving that demoted him almost all the way back on the grid. He was going to have a lot of work to do once the race started. And once it did, he wasn't the only one as Carlos Huertas (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) was also very close to the rear, in his case after he crashed out of qualifying. At the front though, it was all about the Carlin boys. Vergne made an excellent start and shot away into the lead, while Calado lost a place to Svendsen-Cook as they charged into the first corner. Behind them it was very much all Carlin too, with Adriano Buzaid and Jazeman Jaafar in 4th and 5th, ahead of Oli Webb (Fortec Motorsport). Jaafar, however, had seemingly jumped the start and would soon be hauled into the pits to serve a drive through penalty, thus letting Webb up into 5th. However, for the time being, the action was nearer the front, with Calado trying to find a way past Svendsen-Cook, while further back Daniel McKenzie (Fortec Motorsport) was not having the best afternoon, as he had Felipe Nasr (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) all over him.
A couple of laps later Calado was on the tail of Svendsen-Cook, while Jaafar was all over the place, bouncing wildly across the Chicane and getting badly crossed up as he tried to get on terms with Calado but just couldn't manage it. Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing with Manor Motorsport), a little further back, also got it all wrong but he collected one of the polystyrene markers and damaged his car, retiring within yards of the corner. A lap later and Calado finally found the weak chink in Svendsen-Cook's armour and was able to dive through into second. That meant he could set off after Vergne, who was quite a long way up the road now, though he first had to fend off a counter attack by his young team-mate. Dias, meanwhile, was also on the move, and had come up behind Jay Bridger (Litespeed F3), the Brazilian making up ground as rapidly as possible, as was Huertas, but he had a little more work to do, gaining ground initially when Daisuke Nakajima (Raikonen Robertson Racing) spun himself out of contention. And just for good measure, Jaafar had now served his drive through and was last but one, Adderley Fong (Sino Vision Racing) being so slow that he was still last even after all the silliness going on.
At the front the gap was now coming down between Vergne and Calado and it looked as if the Frenchman might not have it all his own way for once. However, there was still a long way to go before the chequered flag. Actually, they were having a fairly calm afternoon as was Svendsen-Cook who was running on his own in 3rd. Buzaid was also having a peaceful time, largely because it was all happening behind him. Webb had now got Lucas Foresti (Carlin) all over him, the Brazilian not quite managing to get through, despite getting alongside more than once. They were managing to create quite a convincing roadblock, which was causing a lot of scrabbling for places, especially for Nasr, McKenzie and William Buller (Hitech Racing), the latter joining on the tail end of this particular mob. Further back, Alex Brundle (T-Sport) was coming under pressure from Bridger, who wanted to get past in order to escape from Dias and Huertas, both of whom were beginning to loom large in his mirrors in what could best be described as a very threatening manner. He really didn't want to be still trying to find a way past Brundle when the two of them got any closer.
With 10 laps to go, Calado was on Vergne's rear wing, and in the end there was nothing the Frenchman could do to stop the Englishman coming through. It was an impressive move and Vergne just didn't have an answer. Calado soon started to pull away, and that meant the top four were pretty sparsely strung out. The real excitement was now in watching Foresti scrabble about on the tail of Webb, but he just didn't seem to be able to do anything about the Fortec driver. It didn't stop him trying and there was a lot of tyre smoke as a result. Meanwhile, Dias and Huertas had both found their way past Brundle, who was now coming under pressure from the National Class leader (and coincidentally Brundle's team-mate) Idafar, the latter having to keep an eye on Jaafar who was pushing to try and get through and salvage something from his afternoon's work. It didn't actually take much longer before Dias and Huertas also battled past Bridger, Huertas then getting the drop in Dias as well, edging himself back into the final points-scoring position of the race.
Idafar couldn't - and probably sensibly didn't want to - stop Jaafar, which meant that with only a handful of laps left, the Malaysian too was able to barge Brundle out of the way on the run to the Chicane as he set about claiming a point for fastest lap (small consolation really but better than nothing). That left Idafar closing on the International Class car, a situation he probably didn't want to be in but couldn't avoid. Close to the very back and with two laps to go, Max Snegirev (Fortec Motorsport) dragged his car round to the pits and retired with a puncture. He wouldn't be the last to exit the race.
A lap later, with Vergne very close to Calado again, it all went pear- shaped in the pack. Coming into the Chicane for the penultimate time, Idafar lunged at Brundle, who blocked him by going straight on. Idafar's car went up over the back of Brundle's and the pair of them ended their race there and then, Brundle's car sustaining substantial damage. That meant waved yellows at the Chicane, which in turn meant that on the very last lap Vergne, who had got alongside Calado, had to drop back and cede a possible victory to his team-mate. He didn't seem to unhappy to come home 2nd to Calado, while Svendsen-Cook and Buzaid were 3rd and 4th respectively. 5th was Webb, despite Foresti's best efforts, and the top ten was completed by Nasr, McKenzie, Buller and Huertas. 11th was Dias, from Bridger, Jaafar, a somewhat surprised National Class winner in the shape of Cole, and Fong who actually managed to finish on the same lap as the winner, despite a number of trips across the Chicane.
Fastest laps went to Jaafar and Idafar.
Weather: Fine, sunny.