After the dry, sunny morning conditions, the weather took a turn for the melodramatic during the lunch break, and by the time the second F3 session of the day started, the track was well and truly sodden. After having problems with their engine ...
After the dry, sunny morning conditions, the weather took a turn for the melodramatic during the lunch break, and by the time the second F3 session of the day started, the track was well and truly sodden. After having problems with their engine mapping systems in the morning, none of the Carlin Motorsport drivers were hanging about in the pits. Oliver Jarvis and Christian Bakkerud got out as quickly as they could, with Bruno Senna (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) going with them. Oddly enough, although they all three quickly set decent laps, James Jakes (Hitech Racing) was one of the true pace setters, at least to begin with, He couldn't quite shake off Jarvis though, the rookie going for his second pole position of the day. Maro Engel, in the third of the Carlin Motorsport cars, was also up with the front runners very early on, making the most of his previous experience round this tricky track (he raced here in the Italian F3000 series last year) to go to the top of the timesheets. Jarvis edged his way back ahead quite quickly though.
In the National Class, Cristiano Morgado (Fluid Motorsport) was leading from Juho Annala (Performance Racing), but everyone was waiting to see what Rodolfo Gonzalez would do. As Senna improved his times, and Salvador Duran (Hitech Racing) moved up to provisional pole, Gonzalez did as expected in the National Class and leapfrogged past Morgado for provisional class pole.
Yelmer Buurman (Fortec Motorsport) was apparently enjoying the treacherous conditions, a not entirely unexpected development frankly, and now he was challenging for pole. He almost immediately lost it to James Walker (Hitech Racing), but then Jarvis upped the ante again. In the National Class there was yet another reshuffle as well, as Morgado went ahead again. None of this was too far from the norm; what was a long way from normal was Stephen Jelley's performance. The Raikkonen Robertson Racing driver was close to last, and really seemed unhappy with the handling of his car. A slightly faster lap saw him scramble his way up to 16th, but it really didn't look like the same driver who had been on pole for a large part of the morning session.
With the rain easing off to a downpour, Walker reclaimed pole, while Bakkerud's attempts to get on terms netted him 4th. He was shuffled back down the order after Senna came bouncing back to snatch pole, while Mike Conway (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) opened his account for the afternoon and went third. Needless to say, he wasn't about to settle for that if he could do anything about it.
Buurman was still pushing hard, and was back to being fastest with Senna 2nd, and Jakes in 3rd. Jarvis then edged his way back into 3rd behind Buurman and Senna. Conway was now slipping back down the order and was 6th. He could only watch as he lost another place to Engel, while Buurman increased the pace to hold provisional pole from Senna, Jarvis, Jakes, Walker, Engel, Conway, Duran, Bakkerud and Alberto Valerio (Cesario F3). That all changed again when Jarvis came back to pole and Bakkerud gained a place from Duran. Senna wasn't taking it lying down though. A lap later he was 0.009 seconds ahead of Jarvis, while Buurman was 0.009 seconds behind the Englishman. There was a weird symmetry at work here, and the battle couldn't have been closer.
To prove it, Duran was on the move again, barging his way through to 6th, while at the front, Jarvis struck back, making the most of a patch of clear track to get almost half a second ahead of his Brazilian rival. As far as Oliver is concerned, if Bruno thinks he's leaving here with the runner-up slot, he can think again! Conway, meanwhile, was pressing ahead and was now 4th, just ahead of Engel, who was having car trouble but had no choice but to live with it. A lap later, Conway eased into 2nd place, with Senna just behind him, and Jelley finally hauled himself into the top 10. Just to prove it wasn't entirely down to Carlin and Double R Buurman crossed the line with 42 seconds of the session remaining to find himself on provisional pole, but Jarvis again came back to take the top slot. Senna made one last determined effort prior to the chequered flag and set a time that beat Jarvis's by 0.003 seconds. It was getting very tense at the front, though Jarvis, as he often does out of the car, had the last word. Setting the only sub-two minute lap of the session, he crossed the line on his final lap to grab his 5th pole position of the season, and his second of the day. It made you wonder what might have been if he'd been on the pace in the very early stages of the season, and had not been involved in a couple of silly incidents with his own team-mates. Anyway, it was a fine effort from the youngster, and now all he needs to do is convert it to a pair of wins.
In the National Class, in the closing stages, a superb effort from Morgado saw the South African claim pole by a very large margin, leaving Gonzalez a long way back.
So, Jarvis starts tomorrow morning's race from pole, ahead of Senna, Buurman, Conway, Engel, Jakes, Duran, Walker, Bakkerud and Morgado. Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing) starts 11th, in front of Jelley, Valerio, Stuart Hall (T-Sport) and invitation class pole man Mauro Massironi (Passoli Racing), Karl Reindler (Alan Docking Racing), Gonzalez, Annala, Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport) and Alex Waters (Promatecme F3). 21st was Fabrizio Crestani (Corbetta) and Rodolfo Avila (Performance Racing) brought up the rear.