By Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas, BF3 correspondents
- Nasr earns pole for race 1 and race 3
- Carlin driver sets top times in qualifying
- T-Sport’s Hylkema fastest rookie
Nasr slams down fast laps at Snetterton for double pole
No changes to the field but we are running on the shiny new circuit, which means that laps times have increased by around 30-35 seconds with the new section that has been added to Snetterton.
This morning at Snetterton, Felipe Nasr (Carlin) was once again the man on form, qualifying on pole for two of the weekend’s races, despite initially looking as if he would have to give ground to his less experienced team-mate Kevin Magnussen but the Dane was edged out in the closing minutes of the session. Third on the grid for today’s race will be Riki Christodoulou (Hitech Racing), while tomorrow’s feature race sees Rupert Svendsen-Cook complete a Carlin lock out of the top three. The Rookie Class pole for both races was claimed – to no one’s surprise – by Bart Hylkema (T-Sport), who beat out Kotaro Sakurai (Hitech Racing) as usual.
Initially it was Svendsen-Cook who looked as if he might be the fastest of the Carlin boys, with Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) also showing well initially. Jack Harvey (Carlin) was 3rd for a while, but there was a long way to go still. In the Rookie Class Sakurai was ahead of Hylkema, though not for long. The Swedish/Dutch driver was soon ahead and would stay there for the rest of the session. Meanwhile things were getting slightly odd, as Adderly Fong (Sino Vision Racing) shot up to 3rd, which wasn’t what anyone expected. Back in reality, Scott Pye (Double R Racing) had edged up to 11th, while Christodoulou was 8th. Menasheh Idafar (T-Sport) seemed to be on form again after his somewhat up-and-down (if quick) showing at Oulton Park and slotted in to 3rd. It was obvious that there was time to be found for most people though, because Jaafar and Svendsen-Cook were over two seconds faster than anyone else, which was unlikely to continue for long. And it didn’t, with Nasr coming through to go fastest and Magnussen on a charge as well. It wasn’t long before it was Magnussen on provisional pole and he would stay there for some considerable time despite Nasr’s best efforts. Meanwhile, Pipo Derani (Double R Racing) had dragged himself round to go 8th, though the real improver was Idafar, who now went 3rd.
He was supplanted a lap later by Carlos Huertas (Carlin), who seemed to wake up after a patchy start to season. He was briefly 3rd but was then pushed down a place by Svendsen-Cook. While all the mid-field shuffling was going on, Magnussen set another fastest lap to claim provisional pole for both races with Nasr 2nd in both. At the halfway point, it was still Magnussen from Nasr and Svendsen-Cook for both grids, but after that it was all shuffled around somewhat. For Race 1, Idafar was still 4th, from Pietro Fantin (Hitech Racing), Jaafar, Christodoulou, Huertas, Derani and William Buller (Fortec Motorsport). Race 3 was far more of a Carlin benefit, with Jaafar in 4th, from Huertas and then Idafar, Buller, Fantin, Derani and Riki Christodoulou.
However, Christodoulou improved to go 4th (and 3rd) and then it was all change, Fantin moving to 5th and Hywel Lloyd (Sino Vision Racing) proving there’s nothing much wrong with the car by slotting in to 6th, a good 11 places ahead of Fong. And then it all went very quiet... there seemed to be a marked reluctance to go back out, perhaps because the new circuit still eats tyres, much as the old one did.
Such reluctance on the part of Lucas Foresti (Fortec Motorsport) seemed inexplicable, as the man who was on fine form at Oulton was struggling to get anywhere near the top ten, and was in fact 18th for race 1 and 17th for race 3. It was odd, to say the least. This did not look like the same driver who had won his first F3 race at Oulton. Eventually the drivers, including Foresti, started to drift back out onto the track. Huertas finally dug deep to go 2nd and split Magnussen from Nasr, though it seemed Nasr might have something in reserve. Further back, Buller improved to go 11th, suggesting that the problem with Foresti might actually be a problem with Fortec, especially as Fahmi Ilyas was also a long, long way distant. At the pointy end, however, it was still business as usual, where that business is Carlin. Svendsen-Cook was again piling on the pressure, and was able to improve his time, though he stayed 4th with Jaafar just behind him in 5th for both races, with a time exactly equal to that of Svendsen-Cook, though he was ranked behind the local hero as he’d done the time later in the session.
Foresti finally got an improvement, but all it did was place him in 17th, making him last but one of the International Class runners for both races. Harvey improved to go 14th in an effort to join in with the Carlin domination, but it wasn’t enough and he was still a long way off his team mates, which must be demoralising for him, although to be honest all it does is prove how hard it is to make the jump from Formula BMW to Formula 3, especially when all 5 of your team-mates already have experience in the category. At least he’s in a good place to learn. Huertas, meanwhile, was pressing on and had claimed 2nd for both races from Svendsen-Cook, while Nasr was shoved down to 4th as a result. Magnussen was still on top, when Fantin joined in and split the Carlin pack for 5th only to be pushed down a place by Harry Tincknell (Fortec Motorsport). Foresti also improved but it still didn’t help and he remained a long way from the front in 15th.
However, the session wasn’t over yet and anyone who has been paying attention this year would not have been surprised to see Nasr finally come good and snatch pole from Magnussen for Race 3. He had enough time left to repeat the trick for Race 1 as well. While Christodoulou and Fantin battled over 6th, and Pye leapfrogged to 9th, Magnussen managed to go faster and for a split second he was ahead of Nasr. The Brazilian followed him across the line and went even faster, thus ensuring both pole positions were his. Magnussen would have to settle for 2nd. A last minute dash by Christodoulou saw him edge into 3rd just before the flag, while Lloyd improved to get into the top 10 for both races. Svendsen-Cook snatched the other 3rd place at the flag.
And so Nasr will start Race 1 on pole, from Magnussen, Christodoulou, Huertas, Svendsen-Cook, Fantin, Jaafar, Lloyd, Derani and Buller. 11th went to Tincknell, Idafar, Pye, Yann Cunha (T-Sport), Foresti, Harvey, Ilyas, Fong, Rookie Class poleman Hylkema, and Sakurai. For Race 3 it’s again Nasr from Magnussen, Svendsen-Cook, Christodoulou, Huertas, Jaafar, Fantin, Derani, Tincknell and Lloyd. In 11th will be Idafar, from Buller, Pye, Foresti, Cunha, Harvey, Ilyas, Fong, Hylkema and Sakurai.
Weather: Dry, cloudy.