By Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas, BF3 correspondents
- Magnussen wins again at Snetterton
- Carlin drivers 1-2 in feature race
- Nasr retains points lead
At Snetterton this afternoon the seemingly invincible progress of Felipe Nasr (Carlin) was temporarily halted when Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) again snatched victory from the Brazilian whose weekend rapidly went downhill from there. Second placed was Carlos Huertas (Carlin) with Riki Christodoulou (Hitech Racing) keeping his campaign to retain his place in the team on track with a fine 3rd place despite his lack of budget. The Rookie Class was back to normal in the hands of Bart Hylkema (T-Sport).
The race got off to a dramatic start with Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Carlin) having to start from the pitlane. The VW engine had developed an awful misfire and nothing seemed to be curing it. With minutes to go the Carlin team were swarming all over the stricken car and eventually were able to send Rupert out just as the race was about to start. As he sat and fumed at the pit exit, Nasr got away well at the front with Magnussen slotting in behind him, but issues developed further back when Hywel Lloyd (Sino Vision Racing) and William Buller (Fortec Motorsport) clashed before they even made it to the first corner, Buller ending up in the barriers. An aggrieved Lloyd dragged his car round to the pits for repairs to the nose of his Dallara and would rejoin just behind Svendsen-Cook. He was assisted in his pursuit of the pack because the Safety Car had been deployed while Buller was removed to a place of safety.
As they settled in behind the Safety Car the order was Nasr, from Magnussen and Christodoulou, who had benefitted from Svendsen-Cook’s abrupt disappearance, while Huertas was 4th, ahead of Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin), Harry Tincknell (Fortec Motorsport), Pietro Fantin (Hitech Racing), Pipo Derani (Double R Racing), Scott Pye (Double R Racing) and Menasheh Idafar (T-Sport). Yann Cunha (T-Sport) was 11th, heading up Lucas Foresti (Fortec Motorsport), Fahmi Ilyas (Fortec Motorsport), Adderly Fong (Sino Vision Racing), Jack Harvey (Carlin), Kotaro Sakurai (Hitech Racing) who was leading the Rookie Class, Hylkema and Svendsen-Cook. Lloyd would quickly join the latter at the back of the field during the two laps they all spent bottled up behind the Safety Car. As the lights went out to indicate the restart, Tincknell ran wide at Coram before they even got to the line, but was able to recover, albeit several places further back in 9th as a result. And the restart was also the point when it all started to go pear-shaped for Nasr. After backing the pack up so far as to lose sight of the Safety Car completely, at the restart Magnussen pulled the same stunt as he had on Saturday and simply drove round the outside of Nasr at Riches to claim the lead and almost immediately start to break away. As the odd spot of rain dotted the track, Nasr started to fall away and soon found he had Huertas on his tail, the Colombian having got the drop on Christodoulou at the restart.
Meanwhile, the red mist enveloping Svendsen-Cook was clearly still in place, judging by the fastest lap of the race that he promptly set. Ahead of him all was in flux too with Idafar passing Tincknell too in the aftermath of the wobbly moment at Coram. In the Rookie Class Sakurai was still in the lead, aided by the fact that Hylkema had given way to both Svendsen-Cook and Lloyd as they both fought to salvage something from the wreck of their hopes. He may well have figured it was safer to let them go before setting about the Japanese himself.
At the front though, Magnussen was pushing on relentlessly, himself setting a new fastest lap, only to have Nasr respond with one of his own. Magnussen was faster in the middle sector each time, but Nasr was better in the other two. However, the Brazilian was now under investigation by the stewards for his actions at the restart and there was worse to come. From being able to match Magnussen’s pace, he suddenly started to lose pace, and Huertas was able to catch up to him.
While Nasr was struggling, Svendsen-Cook was up to 15th having passed Sakurai, and Lloyd was looking for his chance to follow through. As soon as they were both gone, Hylkema started to reel the Japanese in and was soon right with him. Ahead of them Idafar was still 9th but now had Tincknell and Foresti lurking very close.
Lloyd was able to gain another place when Ilyas ran very wide at Oggies, but really all eyes were on Magnussen. By the end of lap 8 he had opened to gap to over 2 seconds, and set another fastest lap into the bargain. He did it again over the next two laps and was beginning to look unstoppable. Someone had to be. Idafar certainly wasn’t, pitting at the end of lap 8 with a misfire that had T-Sport swarming all over his car before they sent him back out, the VW still sounding very rough indeed. If he could squeeze enough out of it, he might at least get a point for fastest lap, though he would have to go some to beat Magnussen’s time. The Bahraini’s unscheduled stop also handed Foresti an unexpected bonus by promoting him into the points despite an awful qualifying session where he managed to rip the floor off the car early on and never recovered. Luck seemed to be on his side this time.
At the midway point, Hylkema finally came round ahead of Sakurai, a long way ahead, which suggested something untoward might have happened out in the scenery. The lead battle was getting interesting too, as Nasr lost 2nd to Huertas, the Colombian diving up the inside to go through. Nasr didn’t seem to have an answer to what had just happened, and it looked as if he was in trouble. That suspicion was reinforced when Carlin started readying tyres. Questioning revealed that the series leader had picked up a slow puncture and was going to have to pit. It wasn’t long before Christodoulou was past, and then Jaafar and Fantin were past as well. Nasr was 6th and going through Riches he was passed by Derani as well. A corner later and Tincknell was looking for a way past as well. Just as the erstwhile leader finally pitted, his team manager was called to Race Control, presumably to learn the outcome of the investigation into the restart. It wasn’t looking good for Nasr. The team changed the front right tyre but then kept him in the pit lane to allow the pack to go past so he could go out in pursuit of the fastest lap. That meant there were four fast drivers out there all with the same thought in their heads. A further change to the top ten, meanwhile, saw Jaafar snatch 4th from Fantin, the Malaysian’s weekend finally improving. It was more than could be said for Nasr. The officials were now preparing the black flag and it didn’t take much guessing to figure out who it was for. Nasr had been awarded a drive through penalty just to complete his less than perfect afternoon. He promptly came in and got it over with and then shot back out to see just how fast he could go.
And just as it looked as if the race had settled down, Sakurai went off at Oggies. He survived and carried on, but he was a long way behind now. In fact it would take long for Nasr to get ahead of him on the road and in the race order, and that despite two stops for Nasr. Mind you, the speed Nasr was finding meant that wasn’t too surprising. He had clear track ahead of him and only one mission now. He was determined and it showed. Meanwhile Harvey was taking a good hard look at Fong for 11th right now, probably because he had Svendsen-Cook and Lloyd right behind him and the mood they were in that wasn’t a comfortable situation to be in. Ahead of them Tincknell was still a bit wild, locking up at Oggies and getting very sideways, though he seemed able to keep it together enough not to lose any ground.
While Magnussen pushed on towards the flag, Nasr finally got his fastest lap on lap 18. It was slower than his Saturday lap record though, in a time of 1:40.171, so there was more to come. A lap later come it did, and on lap 20 he did it again, demolishing the lap record with a 1:39.933 with best times in all three sectors. No one else got near that and so he scored another point, ensuring that his record of scoring points in every round so far is still intact. Only Huertas has been able to do the same and his performances have not been as consistent which is why Nasr still leads the series by a healthy margin.
Magnussen came home a delighted winner despite a last gasp charge by Huertas, with Christodoulou 3rd from Jaafar, Fantin, Derani, Pye, Tincknell, Foresti and Cunha. 11th went to Fong, ahead of Harvey, Svendsen-Cook, Lloyd, Ilyas, Hylkema, Nasr, Sakurai and Idafar, who was only two laps down at the finish.
Fastest laps went to Nasr and Hylkema.
Weather: Cold, overcast, dry.
Next Rounds: Rounds 10-12, June 18th/19th, Brands Hatch, Kent