At Snetterton this afternoon Jack Harvey (Carlin) won from lights to flag in a race that was cut short by extreme weather (sensing a pattern here folks) to move back into the lead of the British F3 International Series from Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport), the two of them surviving chaos at the start and mayhem at the end after a desperate 16 minutes round the Norfolk circuit. Third went to Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport), the latter benefitting from the behaviour of others to take the last podium slot. The National Class win went to Adderly Fong (C F Racing), the Chinese driver taking advantage of conditions that always seem to suit him perfectly.
In a race that was already shortened by 5 minutes as the timetable started to slip in the wake of a massive storm that hit the area just as the lunch break was scheduled to end, the last thing we needed was any further delay. It was a relief, therefore, that everyone opted for wet weather tyres rather than slicks this time round. As a result most people survived the first lap. However, there are always exceptions.
This time, while Harvey got away into the lead from Serralles, in the pack, Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) thought he was 2nd, but was hit by Harry Tincknell (Carlin) after the latter was taken by surprise by Pedro Pablo Calbimonte (T-Sport). What the latter was doing spearing past Tincknell is anyone’s guess, but the upshot was that the National Class runner – who appeared to not bother to brake – speared into the rear of Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin), wiping both of them out of the race on the spot. To say Carlos was not happy at being taken out by someone who is not even in the same battle must be considered an understatement. Tincknell, meanwhile, had to pit for a new left front tyre, while Jaafar fell back through the pack and was left with a lot of work to do.
In addition, Pietro Fantin (Carlin) was in trouble, pulling into the pits for repairs, while Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport) had also dropped a long way behind the pack, the two facts seemingly not unconnected. That has really shaken the field up, and so Harvey led from Serralles, Lynn and Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport). In a somewhat unexpected 5th was Fahmi Ilyas (Double R Racing), from Fong, who was the main beneficiary of the mayhem. Nick McBride (ThreeBond with T-Sport) was 7th from Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing), Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing), a recovering Jaafar, Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport) and Derani, who was also recovering.
What followed was a very surefooted performance from Harvey on a slippery but drying track, with Serralles unable to get on terms with the Englishman or unwilling to risk throwing away points in the battle for the championship. It wasn’t exactly a poor performance, just a slightly restrained one from the Puerto Rican.
It didn’t take too long for it to become clear that there wouldn’t be much in the way of change as long as the weather stayed as it was, Derani managed to set a fastest lap as he struggled to get back into the race, but passing would be another matter altogether. With Harvey happily leading from Serralles, Serralles was the next to set a fastest lap, while Sainz Jr could be seen in the pits on foot explaining what had happened out there. He certainly didn’t look at all happy.
In the pack, McBride passed Fong for 6th while Padayachee lost a place to Goddard and the sky turned increasingly dark in the distance. If we were lucky we’d get through the race before the weather gods turned on us again. The threat seemed to spur Harvey on, as he set a new fastest lap on lap 5 and then the rain arrived. Initially it wasn’t too bad, but you could see it in the distance and it was obviously going to get much worse very quickly.
Jaafar was busy making up ground and was now 7th, while Derani was inside the top ten after he passed first Padaychee and then Goddard, while at the back Fantin rejoined the race five laps down. And then the rain intensified. By lap 7 it was absolutely pelting down, Jaafar had close on McBride but there was nothing to be done in those conditions. All he could do was make sure he didn’t go off and hope that his rival might hit problems or make a mistake.
And then it started to hail. Derani skated off backwards and the officials bowed to the inevitable and hauled out the red flags, bringing the race to an abrupt halt after just 16 minutes. The results were declared a lap back but only those still running at the finish would be classified, so that counted Derani out of the equation. Almost as soon as the cars slithered and skated their way back to the garage the skies started to clear and the sun came out again, and you would never have known it had been so awful.
As a result a very pleased Harvey celebrated another victory, from Serralles, Lynn, van Asseldonk, Ilyas, McBride, Jaafar, Fong, Uhrhane and Goddard. Padayachee was 11ths from Tincknell and there were no other classified runners.
The fastest laps of the race were set by Harvey and Fong.
Weather: Wet yet again.