After a processional - and frankly quite dull - Round 15 everyone was hoping for a little more excitement for Round 16 on Sunday afternoon. We didn't really get any once the initial post-start pushing and shoving was done with, at least not in the Championship Class. The National Class lads actually rose to the occasion and provided a most absorbing scuffle. But more of that later.
Needless to say we were still missing Basil Shaaban (Comtec) and Martin Kudzak (Fluid Motorsport) from the Invitation Class and National Class respectively, the two of them out of action as a result of crashes on Saturday that left their cars in a state that couldn't be fixed in the time - and with the resources - available to their teams.
At the start, Oliver Jarvis (Carlin Motorsport) turned pole into the lead, getting the drop on team-mate Maro Engel, who made a very poor start, almost jumping it, then stopping, creeping and finally getting away. Behind the two of them, Mike Conway (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) made a much better getaway to claim 3rd place from hard-charging Yelmer Buurman (Fortec Motorsport). Bruno Senna also made a good start, but ended up 5th anyway after the pair in front of him were to busy with each other for him to be able to get through. At the front Jarvis wasted no time setting a fastest lap that would stand for the rest of the race, but then settled in to keep as much of a gap as possible between himself and Engel, who could only repeat his morning's performance and keep on chipping away at the gap.
In the National Class Juho Annala (Performance Racing) again lost out at the start, this time to Cristiano Morgado (Fluid Motorsport), the Finn again finding that the line he was taking was the wrong one! He slotted in right behind Morgado, while the series leader Rodolfo Gonzalez (T-Sport) was right on his rear wing. Just for good measure, Alex Waters (Promatecme F3) decided that he'd like to join the group too, and the rookie, in only his second race, was able to stay with them for a lot longer than you might expect. It was a creditable effort on the part of the youngster, but the three in front of him have considerably more experience than him, and eventually he had to drop back, leaving them to run nose-to-tail for lap after lap, with Gonzalez making occasional attacks on Annala only to have the door slammed firmly in his face, and Annala taking the odd look at Morgado but then thinking better of it when it looked as if they might both end up in the gravel if he persisted..
Back in the Championship Class things were less than thrilling.
Stephen Jelley (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) was now back in a somewhat distant 8th, not far from Christian Bakkerud but not in a position to improve his own placing at all. Karl Reindler (Alan Docking Racing) was closing in on Salvador Duran (Hitech Racing) but they weren't even in the points, and it didn't look like it would become a serious attempt anytime soon. Engel was busy chipping away at his teammate for the lead, but Jarvis seemed to have the measure of him, and Senna was holding off James Walker (Hitech Racing), but there again it never really looked likely to change. What did happened was that Jelley managed to get closer to James Jakes (Hitech Racing) and took a quick look, but even that wasn't going to come to much.
And then Alberto Valerio (Cesario Formula UK) slithered off into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend and got stuck. With the lanky Brazilian stranded just where any other car leaving the track would likely hit him, the organisers had no choice but to put out the Safety Car boards and bring the field back under control while the marshals effected a rescue.
The order on lap 14 (of a potential 22 laps) was Jarvis leading from Engel, Conway, Buurman, Senna, Walker, Jakes, Jelley, Bakkerud and Stuart Hall (T-Sport). Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing) was just outside the points, in 11th, with Duran and Reindler behind him. The National Class train of Morgado, Annala and Gonzalez was next, from Waters, Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport) and Rodolfo Avila (Performance Racing).
At the restart, Jarvis kept his cool and held off Engel, who did his best to stay with his team-mate. Conway, on the other hand, dropped back quite a long way, and almost seemed to go to sleep, which meant he ended up with Buurman all over him. The Dutchman really wanted that 3rd place back if he could possibly get it, and he was quite determined to get it if he could.
The restart was the signal for the battle for the National Class to start hotting up again too, the three of the seemingly glued together out there. Gonzalez was so close it's unlikely Annala could see anything else in his mirrors apart from the T-Sport car, but he wasn't about to give an inch, and Morgado was definitely not letting go of what looked likely to be his first win in the category, not after he's been the bridesmaid so many time this year.
While they were battling it out, behind them Ihara had gone off at Paddock Hill Bend, and had managed to drive all the way through the gravel and back out the other side, only to get no further than Hawthorns, where she went off for good. That seemed to unsettle Avila, who also crashed out, again bending the car substantially and bringing out the red flags. The race result was declared as at the end of lap 18 and that was the end of that.
Jarvis claimed his 2nd win of the year from Engel, Jarvis moving into 2nd place in the championship chase behind Conway, and Engel moving up to 4th, a handful of points behind Senna, who really hasn't had much luck of late. Behind the two of them, Conway held off Buurman for 3rd, while Senna finished 5th, ahead of Walker, Jakes, Jelley, Bakkerud and Hall. Kennard was the first finisher outside the points, ahead of Duran and Reindler. The National Class went the way of Morgado, who was utterly delighted at winning at last, from Annala, who was philosophical about being beaten when he'd been on pole, Gonzalez and Waters. There were no other finishers.
The extra points for fastest lap went to Jarvis (in the Championship Class) and Morgado (National Class).
Next Race Meeting: Rounds 17 & 18, Mugello, Italy, September 15th/17th.