Qualifying Report: Weather: Cold, wet. The weather gods were not in the mood to be kind at Donington. Considering this is meant to be the height of Summer, we really should be having better conditions for our racing. Instead, it was cold and...
Weather: Cold, wet.
The weather gods were not in the mood to be kind at Donington. Considering this is meant to be the height of Summer, we really should be having better conditions for our racing. Instead, it was cold and wet and horrible again, just like at Combe. Perhaps unsurprisingly in these conditions, Clivio Piccione (Carlin Motorsport) was an early pace setter, but then he tends to be when fingertip precision is called for, rather than out and out aggression. His team-mate, Danilo Dirani was another to show signs of speed, while pole position man from round 13, Adam Carroll (P1 Motorsport) was looking like a shadow of his former self, suffering from what turned out to be a slow puncture. However, to begin with that wasn't obvious and by the time the team realised what was happening, it was rather too late to remedy the situation.
Nelson A Piquet (Piquet Sports) was looking much better than he has of late, and was fastest in the first sector before grabbing an early pole. However, he had it taken off him by Andrew Thompson (Hitech Racing), which was a surprise to everyone, probably including Andrew. James Rossiter (Fortec Motorsport), on the other hand, was still finding it hard to get up to speed, and was only 5th, while Piccione had slipped a little to 4th. With around a third of the session gone, Piquet put in a flying lap to claim pole from Dirani, and Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing). They got displaced when Thompson came back at them to take 2nd. Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport) was now 8th, and looking a bit slow, whereas Rossiter had recovered from his somewhat tardy start and was now fastest. Oddly enough, despite the fact that the track was apparently no drier than it had been at the start, conditions had to be improving because most people were getting steadily faster and faster, to the point where Asmer again snuck up to the top of the table to take provisional pole.
Fairuz Fauzy (Menu Motorsport) was another in the top ten, at least to begin with, though after that he was mostly in the gravel. He wasn't the only one, Piccione taking a short cut across the chicane at Fogarty's. While they were messing about, Parente was beginning to improve and was up to 6th, while Rossiter took pole back from Asmer, while Piquet improved to go 3rd. James Walker (Hitech Racing) was also busy proving that his Round 13 form was no flash in the pan and was up to 8th instead of his usual lowly position. Ryan Lewis (T-Sport) on the other hand, was busy trying to prove that Stephen Jelley's pole position for Performance Racing in Round 13 was a flash in the pan. To do that, he'd taken hid usual Scholarship Class pole and wasn't about to give it back.
Carroll had slipped down the order to 10th, and was still on the slippery slope to nowhere in particular with the deflating tyre to blame, while Will Power (Alan Docking Racing) didn't appear to be in very good shape either, for a man who was hoping to get closer to the top of the points table at Donington. With just over half the session still to go, he was only 9th, which would mean a lot of work to get near the front.
Rossiter managed to squeeze a little more out of his tyres to improve his pole position time, though he lost out almost immediately to Piquet, with Piccione, Thompson, Asmer, Parente, Dirani, Lucas di Grassi (Hitech Racing), Carroll and Power rounding out the top ten. In 11th, and looking much more convincing than he did initially this year was Marcus Marshall (Fortec Racing), following in 12th by Karun Chandhok (T-Sport) who didn't aid his cause any when he went off at Redgate.
At the front it was all change again when Piccione went quickest again, pushing Rossiter out again, and then having to watch while Piquet again set off on a charge. Rossiter immediately pitted for some setting changes, while most people just stayed out, assuming - perhaps correctly - that the times would continue to come down as the track finally started to dry. And as that started to happen, Asmer again went quickest, while Fauzy took the first of a pair of trips through the Redgate gravel, for no readily apparent reason. The order was now Asmer, from Thompson, which gave us an all Hitech front row, with Piccione and di Grassi in 3rd and 4th, ahead of Rossiter, Piquet, Parente, Dirani, Chandhok and Lewis.
Carroll, meanwhile, was down to 13th now, and had finally given up the struggle with his unbalanced car, bringing it in to the pits to try and find out what was wrong with it. Another one spending time in the pit lane was Danny Watts (Promatecme F3), and while he wasn't as far off the pace as Carroll, the Lola-Dome driver didn't look at al like a man who was on the top step of the podium only 6 days previously. While both of them re- emerged eventually, time was running out. While all this was going on at the back, Piquet was making a fresh run for pole, and was now fastest, though he didn't get to keep it for long. Piccione was revelling in these conditions, and was soon on pole again, though Parente seemed ready to challenge him too. Seemed as if you needed to have a surname beginning with P to be at the front this time round. While the Portuguese moved into 2nd place, Fauzy was off in the Redgate gravel again, and then he took a look at the kitty litter at Fogarty's too, deciding that he liked the look of that corner; in any event that was where he stayed.
There were four minutes of the session left when Parente again improved, taking pole, while Piccione slotted into 2nd from Piquet, but then Piquet improved, pushing Piccione back to 3rd. And then, with only a couple of minutes left, the session was brought to a premature halt with another of those annoying red flags. And so Parente had his first pole position of the season, just beating Piquet to it. Piccione would have to settle for 3rd, ahead of Asmer and di Grassi.
In 6th was Thompson, from Rossiter, Walker, Chandhok and Dirani. Power was an unexpectedly lowly 11th, while Watts was only just ahead of Scholarship Class pole position man Lewis. Marshall was next up from Fauzy and Carroll. 2nd in the Scholarship Class was Jelley, while Ronayne O'Mahony (Performance Racing) and Vasilije Calasan (Promatecme F3) brought up the rear.
By: Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite