BF3

Conway clinches championship at Silverstone

Starting this race from pole position, Mike Conway (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) made a good steady start only to find Oliver Jarvis (Carlin Motorsport) trying to go up the inside along the pit straight. When he couldn't do that, because he...

Starting this race from pole position, Mike Conway (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) made a good steady start only to find Oliver Jarvis (Carlin Motorsport) trying to go up the inside along the pit straight. When he couldn't do that, because he risked ending up in the wall, he tried the outside, which also didn't work. While everyone was watching what was happening at the front, Christian Bakkerud (Carlin Motorsport), fresh from his recent win at Mugello, took off from the line as if the car had "been given launch control". He was 3rd by the time they reached the first corner, having started 6th. It was quite a start even by Christian's standards. Given that at Silverstone you tend to finish in the same position you started from, it probably came as quite a surprise to Bruno Senna (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) who suddenly found himself demoted to 4th.

At the far end of the grid, Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport) had somehow managed to slip from her starting position to dead last, probably to the relief of the National Class boys she was stuck in the middle of. At least they wouldn't need to try and pass her. Except that series leader Rodolfo Gonzalez (T-Sport) went too far towards the outside of Copse, only to find Juho Annala (Performance Racing) squeezing through on the inside, much to the Finn's amusement. Gonzalez spun and recovered, but only after the rest of the pack had vanished into the distance. Knowing he needed to finish in the top three to clinch the championship this race, Gonzalez started playing catch up. Of course, all that allowed Cristiano Morgado (Fluid Motorsport) to get away in the class lead and put some distance between himself and Annala.

At the front, Yelmer Buurman (Fortec Motorsport) was all over Stephen Jelley (Raikkonen Robertson Racing), who was trying to make sure Senna couldn't get away. Of course Senna was all over Bakkerud in the pursuit of "his" 3rd place. A little behind them, Salvador Duran (Hitech Racing) was busy having a go at Maro Engel (Carlin Motorsport). Buurman's attack came to nothing, and he dropped to 7th, leaving Jelley to deal with James Walker (Hitech Racing) who briefly thought he might like to get on terms with Jelley. That was before Buurman set about trying to regain ground in his usual terrier-like fashion.

At the front, Conway was enjoying a comfortable lead from Jarvis, and had set the fastest lap of the race, thus looking like he was going to claim the 2006 championship in style. Of course, there were still a large number of laps to go, though Jarvis didn't look like he would get near the leader. Meanwhile, Walker was now in a position where Buurman was trying hard to get him, and everything was piled up behind them all the way back to Stuart Hall (T-Sport) in 10th place, with Jakes, Engel, Duran and Kennard all glued together in between. Back in the National Class, Rodolfo Avila (Performance Racing) lost a place to Alex Waters (Promatecme F3), despite Waters being plagued by wing mirrors that had come loose for the second time in the weekend.

Meanwhile, Senna and Jelley were both on Bakkerud's rear wing, though as this is Silverstone, there are very few opportunities to pass. They were both giving Bakkerud some cause for concern, and the only thing that was really saving the Dane was probably the fact that the two behind him were far too busy scrapping with each other to concentrate on the Carlin driver ahead of them. Meanwhile, Annala was catching Morgado, for the National Class, but it probably wasn't going to be enough.

It wasn't all plain sailing back there in the National Class either, because Ihara had recovered and was now passing them. To have to fight for track space with a Championship Class runner was not what they needed when they were busy with their own race.

In the pack behind Conway there was some action developing. Engel was all over Jakes now, while the rest of the cluster behind Buurman had now split up into pairs. And behind Bakkerud, Senna and Jelley were again looming large in the Dane's mirrors. It could lead to some overtaking. A lap later and Walker and Buurman had caught up a bit, and were looking for a way through while regarding each other with suspicion as well. Buurman finally found a way through, though Walker fought back immediately. It didn't save him; Buurman was too strong and he made it stick on lap 9.

Conway, meanwhile, was cruising round undisturbed, and looked set to be champion at the end of the half hour race. Really, he wasn't providing much for the spectators to look at. That was down to Senna and Jelley, the team-mates still trying to figure out a way past Bakkerud. Jarvis, meanwhile, was doing his best to catch Conway, but really he just didn't have quite enough pace needed to deal with the rapidly disappearing leader. Meanwhile, Senna thought he could see a way past Bakkerud, so he gave it a go. The trouble was he still had Jelley stuck to the back of him. It didn't work and he ended up losing ground, which left Jelley dangerously exposed to the attentions of Buurman, not a man you really want to see in your mirrors when your tyres are getting worn. In the middle of the field, having suffered wheelspin at the start, Alberto Valerio (Cesario F3) lost his battle to find a way past Hall and ended up spinning at Copse. By the time he'd recovered, he was down in 17th and had a lot of work to do to undo the damage. Given that he lost ground at the start with way too much wheelspin, he was one unhappy Brazilian!

He wasn't the only one. Conway couldn't get rid of Jarvis, who just kept right on trying to catch up, and meanwhile Jelley was coming under heavy pressure from Buurman. That freed Senna up to harass Bakkerud, and it was probably only the dirty air that was saving the Dane. If you run in the shadow of another F3 car, the way the aerodynamics work, you end up losing downforce and thus it becomes very difficult to pass. Meanwhile, Valerio was on the way back up through the pack, and Gonzalez was in hot pursuit of Avila. If he could pass Avila, he would get enough points to secure the National Class championship. Obviously he was very keen to do just that if he could. He wanted this over with. He wasn't the only one. Half of Venezuela seemed to be in the press office, and they were becoming very stressed by the whole thing.

Back in 4th, Senna made his move, got it slightly wrong and found Jelley trying to squeeze alongside. The Brazilian responded, and that meant Jelley lost ground. Buurman saw his opportunity and went for it, edging out Jelley for 5th. That meant Senna now had Buurman looming in his mirrors, which probably worried Bruno far more than having Jelley behind him did. However, again it was easy to catch up, but passing was another matter altogether. And that was the last passing move of any kind in the Championship Class, though Buurman didn't stop trying to find some sort of way past Senna. The National Class saw a couple more changes towards the end, with Ihara getting past Annala (OK, she's Championship Class and he's National Class), though it made little difference to the end result. Gonzalez, on the other hand, was still on the move, and was now on Waters' tail. With the seconds ticking down, the Venezuelan closed on the Englishman, and with a lap left to go, he was through. His coterie of followers erupted in cheers, then burst into tears before rushing off to the podium to celebrate the crowning of a new National Class champion. Meanwhile Conway came home comfortably ahead of everyone else, which meant we had champions in both categories.

And so the 19th round of the 2006 series ended with a win for Conway, from Jarvis, Bakkerud, Senna, Buurman, Jelley, Walker, Jakes, Engel and Duran. 11th was Jonathan Kennard, ahead of (Alan Docking Racing), Stuart Hall (T-Sport), Karl Reindler (Alan Docking Racing) from Valerio. National Class winner was Morgado, with Ihara trapped between him and Annala, while Gonzalez was 3rd in class from Waters and Avila.

The extra points for fastest lap went to Conway and Gonzalez.

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