Changes: There are no changes this weekend despite Salvador Duran (Hitech Racing) having spoken in anger about how much he hates his F3 car at present. He now says he didn't actually mean it and people shouldn't ask questions...
There are no changes this weekend despite Salvador Duran (Hitech Racing) having spoken in anger about how much he hates his F3 car at present. He now says he didn't actually mean it and people shouldn't ask questions like that when he's just had a really bad race.
After a foggy start to the day, the track was still damp to start with. That led to various people heading out onto the track with wet weather tyres on just to find out how wet it was. That led to a handful of lap times being set, and then nothing more happening as everyone dived back in and waited for the track to dry a little more. Mike Conway and Stephen Jelley both tried this tack, the Raikkonen Robertson Racing pair setting the fastest times at this early stage. Yelmer Buurman (Fortec Motorsport) was another who tried the track and decided not to waste his efforts. In the Promatecme F3 car, Alex Waters was busy taking a look at the track for the first time in dry-ish conditions, which put the National Class runner at the top of the overall times for a brief while. At that point he and Maro Engel (Carlin Motorsport) were the only drivers out there, and they too returned to the pits quite rapidly. Conway and Jelley promptly set faster laps, but they were on wet weather tyres and quickly established that the track was merely greasy and drying fast. They returned to the pits, changed tyres and sat there waiting.
Buurman kept going a little longer, setting the 3rd fastest time, with Alberto Valerio (Cesario F3) and Stuart Hall (T-Sport) hanging on a little longer before they too came in and waited. With Bruno Senna (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) and James Walker (Hitech Racing) also took a quick look and also decided there was no point in pushing. The minutes ticked by and track remained oddly empty. Finally, as we edged towards the halfway point, people began to wander out. Rodolfo Gonzalez (T-Sport) and Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing) joined in and Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport) went out as well. Conway continued to sit there calmly while the rest of the pack went out. The times started to tumble dramatically, with Gonzalez rocketing to National Class pole and 3rd overall. Then Waters, despite having a non-functioning dashboard and thus no idea what he was doing, went to pole. Jelley then took over the top slot as the track just kept on drying. Seconds later Duran was 2nd, and Cristiano Morgado (Fluid Motorsport) was 3rd. This was beginning to look as if it might be one of those sessions where the last man over the line would set the fastest time simply because he'd be the one getting the best of the conditions. As it turned out, it wasn't quite like that.
A further round of changes saw Buurman move up to 2nd, while Senna, looking a lot happier than he did at Brands Hatch, was 5th, just behind Hall. In the National Class, Juho Annala (Performance Racing) was on pole now, but then again, things were changing all the time. Walker now found a drier line, and moved up to 5th. A lap later and Morgado had edged back ahead of Annala, while Senna leap-frogged up to pole. With time running out, Christian Bakkerud (Carlin Motorsport) and his team-mate Oliver Jarvis were dead last, but hen they'd really left it late to emerge from the garages. That left Double R dominating the front row with Conway now claiming 2nd. Annala was back on National Class pole, but only for as long as it took Morgado to come round again.
Buurman was 3rd overall now, and Senna was still clinging to pole position by his fingernails. The National Class took a further reshuffle with Gonzalez pushing Annala down to 2nd. In the Championship Class, Engel was now 4th, while Jarvis and Bakkerud were respectively 13th and 14th. Conway, looking to clinch the championship this weekend, took pole away from Senna, while another lap saw Jarvis to 5th, with Engel 6th and Bakkerud right behind him. Jarvis wasn't done yet though. A further improvement and he was up to 4th, while Engel went with him. Jarvis went even better, lining up alongside Conway on the front row, the rookie determined to stop Senna from beating him to the runner-up slot in this year's title chase. Meanwhile, Bakkerud and Engel swapped places for 5th, Jelley went to 4th and then Buurman spilt the Carlin pair.
And after that it went very quiet. Conway was leading from Jarvis, Senna, Jelley, Bakkerud, Buurman, Engel, James Jakes (Hitech Racing), Walker and Valerio. There was quite a large chunk of time left, but the tyres had pretty much gone past their best for everyone. Apart from Buurman, that is. A final effort from him saw him snag 5th place at the last minute, to the disgust of Bakkerud who he displaced.
And so at the chequered flag the order was Conway on pole, from Jarvis, Senna, Jelley, Buurman, Bakkerud, Engel, Jakes, Walker and Valerio. Hall was 11th, ahead of Duran, Kennard and Karl Reindler (Alan Docking Racing). 15th, and on National Class pole, was Morgado, from Gonzalez, Annala, Ihara, Rodolfo Avila (Performance Racing) and Waters, who was not having too good a time in the dry.