Jack Harvey claims double poles
At Rockingham this morning Jack Harvey (Carlin) celebrated being back on familiar territory by claiming pole position for Race 1 and Race 3 of the weekend. He was trailed by Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport) who was quick but not quite quick enough and ended the session with two second places to his credit, which was some compensation to the team after they lost both awnings to storm damage on Thursday night. Starting from 3rd in Race 1 should have been Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin) while in Race 3 it is Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) but penalties applied after the event meant that Sainz Jr will start the race from the back, moving Jaafar to 3rd. The National Class pole in both races went to Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport).
At the start of the session Harvey was keen to stamp his authority on the meeting, and he was soon at the top of the times, where he would stay for pretty much the duration of the half hour of qualifying. Sainz was soon up there with his more experienced team-mate, and Harry Tincknell (Carlin) joined them at the top of the pile as well, though not for long. With cold, blustery conditions making life tough, it wasn’t a lot of fun out there. It didn’t stop Goddard from showing well too and his first effort put him onto class pole and halfway up the order.
Further changes were on the cards though with Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport) jumping up to 3rd. He was pushed down a place when Pietro Fantin (Carlin) put in a fast lap, leading to a glimmer of hope in what has been a somewhat disappointing season for the Brazilian so far. At the front Harvey kept the pressure on with a series of ever faster laps, while his team mates made a variety of attempts to catch up with the Racing Steps backed youngster. It was not working and the pursuit was halted when an outbreak of yellows was followed by a series of warnings about not respecting the track limits.
Just before it all kicked off, Jaafar had moved up to 4th and Fantin managed another improvement to go 2nd, though he didn’t look as though he would be able to challenge Harvey. In fact no one did even when the track was again clear. Tincknell was the first to improve this time, but it wasn’t enough for pole, leaving him 3rd just ahead of Sainz Jr and Lynn. They were all shuffled round again when Serralles shot up to 3rd, while Lynn improved his time but not his position.
To no one’s very great surprise Harvey was the first to pit for new tyres and that started a general rush for new rubber. Meanwhile, Fantin and Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport) were both shown the black and white flag for repeatedly failing to respect the track limits. They were not alone in this, but they seemed to be the worst offenders at this stage.
With around half the session gone, the order was still Harvey, from Fantin, Serralles, Tincknell, Lynn, Sainz Jr, Jaafar, Fahmi Ilyas (Double R Racing), Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport) and Nick McBride (T-Sport). Derani was only 11th despite the track limit infringements, while Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing) was 112th ahead of National Class pole man Goddard and Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing).
As everyone’s pitstops were completed, a general track limits warning was issued and as they all headed out again there was a general threat of penalties hanging over them if they didn't behave at Turn 7. It remained to be seen whether they would pay any attention or not. Given the next message informed us that Derani, Fantin and Tincknell were all under investigation, it seemed the answer was no. Away from possibility of penalties, van Asseldonk was first to improve in the second half of the session but it didn’t help much, moving him up by just one place to 8th.
Lynn dug deep for 2nd but he still couldn’t get on terms with Harvey, who promptly reinforced the point by going even quicker, leaving the rest of them to play catch up if they thought they could. Sainz Jr seemed to think he might, going 3rd, which lifted him to a more usual position. He immediately lost out to Jaafar for one of the two races as the Malaysian went 3rd, pushing Sainz back to 4th. Tincknell, despite being under investigation, was now 5th while a lot further back Uhrhane also went faster though he still stayed distant from pole.
At the front Harvey was still pushing on and was even faster now. He obviously wanted those two pole positions and wasn’t about to hand them to anyone, not even Lynn, no matter how hard Lynn tried. Jaafar was still trying though and was now 3rd for Race 3 and 4th for Race 1, while Sainz was 4th for Race 3 and 3rd for Race 1. They seem to be locked into this sharing routine at present. After all they are currently separated by just three points at the top of the championship table with Sainz holding the lead at the moment.
The battle for pole now fizzled out like a damp squib, evidenced by Tincknell pitting before the chequered flag and no one else managing to improve at all, apart from Uhrhane, who put in a last lap improvement but still didn’t move up the order. After the cars returned to the pits several drivers were summoned to the race officials’ office and penalised for track limit infringements. The times appear to stand for Race 3, so the grid order for that one is Harvey on pole, from Lynn, Jaafar, Sainz, Tincknell, van Asseldonk, Fantin, Serralles, Derani and Ilyas. McBride starts from 11th ahead of Uhrhane, Goddard and Padayachee.
For Race 1 things are more complicated. Based on time set the order should have been Harvey, from Lynn, Sainz Jr, Jaafar, Tincknell, Fantin, van Asseldonk, Serralles, Ilyas and Derani. McBride was once more 11th from Uhrhane, Goddard and Padayachee. However, after Derani, Tincknell and Sainz Jr had all their times disallowed, and Jaafar and van Asseldonk each had their fastest lap time disallowed, it looks a lot like this. Harvey and Lynn still hold the front row. Jaafar is now 3rd. thus moving up the order despite being penalised, ahead of Fantin, Serralles, van Asseldonk, Ilyas, McBride, Uhrhane and Goddard. 11th is now Padayachee from Sainz Jr, Tincknell and Derani. It’s going to be an interesting race.
Weather: Cloudy, overcast, blustery, dry.