- Magnussen on pole for race 1 & 3
- Team mate Nasr 2nd for 1st race
- Grid place penalties handed out to 8 drivers
- Derani an unexpected 4th
Magnussen grabs pole in heated contest at Nurburgring; Hylkema top in Rookie Class
Changes: At Hitech Racing it was all change for this weekend with Antonio Felix da Costa and Pedro Nunes stepping in and no sign of Riki Christodoulou, whose budget just cannot stretch this far.
In qualifying this morning at the iconic German circuit, after a certain amount of excitement and an awful lot of penalties, it quickly became an all-Carlin affair at the front, with Kevin Magnussen taking a last minute pole position from team-mates Carlos Huertas, Jazeman Jaafar and series leader Felipe Nasr. In the Rookie Class Bart Hylkema (T-Sport) was comfortably ahead of Kotaro Sakurai (Hitech Racing) for both races of the weekend.
The first driver to show their hand in the session was Jaafar, who went out and set a banker lap straight away. Looking at the clouds massing on the horizon and bubbling up behind the castle that looms over the track, this seemed like a sensible act. He was trailed round by a rather battered Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Carlin), the latter having fallen badly during the course of Friday’s testing. They were being run close at this point by Menasheh Idafar (T-Sport), as all the drivers legged it out for fear of rain.
With the track now very busy, and Lucas Foresti’s (Hitech Racing) transponder not working, it very quickly started to get interesting out there. It came as no particular surprise when Nasr rocketed round to claim an early provisional pole, a good 2 seconds ahead of his nearest rivals, but he wasn’t going to have it all his own way this morning, not if Huertas had anything to say about it anyway. The Colombian was suddenly very close, though it wasn’t quite enough for him to escape from 2nd, and then Svendsen-Cook bumped him down a place anyway. The best of the rest at this point was William Buller (Fortec Motorsport), who was now 4th from Foresti and Harry Tincknell in the third of the Fortec cars. At the front, though, it was all about Carlin, with Magnussen going 2nd next, only to be replaced by Huertas. Jaafar shot up to 4th and then they all had to slow down, with yellows at Turn 6 where Adderly Fong (Sino Vision Racing) had gone off.
Meanwhile Hylkema was pressing on and was 13th overall. Ahead of him, Pietro Fantin (Hitech Racing) moved up to 6th and was now the first of the non-Carlin runners, since Jack Harvey couldn’t quite match the pace of the other 5 Carlin drivers and was a respectable enough 9th, just ahead of Scott Pye (Double R Racing) and Foresti was just 7th. Nunes shot up to 8th and a mid-session rush for the pits commenced as the yellow flags were finally withdrawn.
At the mid-point it seemed to be business as usual for Nasr, as he headed the pack, with Huertas, Magnussen, Jaafar, Svendsen-Cook, Fantin, Foresti, Nunes, Da Costa and Harvey rounding out the top ten. With very little traffic to get in his way, Jaafar made a bid for the top slot and just missed, only to be immediately outdone by da Costa, while Foresti was also still circulating and had managed to claim 5th. If he wants to stop Nasr running away with this title, he would need more than that though.
Magnussen wasn’t done yet either, and the next thing anyone knew he was back on pole, by a quarter of a second. However, there were still 10 minutes left to run and it was definitely all to play. Hylkema put in a latish effort to move up to 15th overall, which put him well ahead of the other Rookie Class runner, Sakurai, who was now 20th. Harvey was still showing well too on a circuit that he seems more comfortable with and the Racing Steps Foundation runner was now 7th, ahead of Svendsen-Cook. Another seeming to have the knack of the place was Hywel Lloyd (Sino Vision Racing), who was 10th and who always seems to do well on the bigger circuits. Meanwhile Nasr was back on pole, while behind him Pye was having a good run at things, with a lap that would put him 8th. Nunes, however, bettered that almost immediately while Svendsen-Cook came back for 6th.
With pole just 0.020 seconds faster than the 2nd placed man, Nasr could not relax, and was soon under threat. Huertas snatched pole from him, and da Costa shoved him down another place while behind it was all change too. William Buller (Fortec Motorsport) was now 5th, and Tincknell improved for 7th. Fantin was beginning to fade now and could only manage 9th, while Idafar was 15th with team-mate Yann Cunha (T-Sport) down in 16th. And that was when the trouble hit, with the team managers of Fahmi Ilyas (Fortec Motorsport), Derani, Cunha, Sakurai, da Costa, Nunes, Pye and Lloyd all instructed to report to the race director.
As all this was going on Pye improved to 7th, two places behind Foresti. Nasr was still working hard and was back to 2nd with Magnussen just behind in 3rd. Jaafar broke them up, and then Magnussen snatched pole, Jaafar edging up to 3rd – Carlin were now beating off the interlopers although it wasn’t quite over yet. Fantin, meanwhile, was 12th and Hylkema had slid back to 18th though he was still clear of Sakurai. Buller, meanwhile, emerged back onto the track after a long stay in the pits and grabbed 6th.
As Sakurai was given a warning for overstepping the track limits, and then a final warning for the same offence, Buller again improved, though it left him in 7th, and Lloyd was back to 14th. And that was the last of the on track action, as the flag dropped and Magnussen led the pack, from Huertas, Jaafar, Nasr, da Costa, Foresti, Buller, Svendsen-Cook, Tincknell and Nunes. 11th was Pye, ahead of Derani, Fantin, Lloyd, Harvey, Idafar, Ilyas, Hylkema, Cunha and Sakurai. 21st was Fong.
After the race director got through with them, the times stood, and thus the order for the grid for Race 3, but in race 1 a raft of penalties would be applied for drivers who had failed to respect the yellow flags. The worst offender was apparently Cunha who was awarded a 10 grid space punishment (though give he never qualifies that far forward it’s hard to see how this might be applied), and the others (Ilyas, Lloyd, Nunes, da Costa, Sakurai, Derani and Pye) all getting 5 place penalties. It seems there might be a very large gap on the grid this afternoon.
Weather: Cold, changeable.