Kennard on fire in opening British F3 rounds British racing ace Jonathan Kennard signalled his intent to aim for the 2007 British Formula 3 Championship title, with a scintillating performance in this weekend's opening rounds of the series,...
Kennard on fire in opening British F3 rounds
British racing ace Jonathan Kennard signalled his intent to aim for the 2007 British Formula 3 Championship title, with a scintillating performance in this weekend's opening rounds of the series, which saw him take his first F3 pole position and break the circuit lap record.
Kennard, 21, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, was in awesome form right from the off at the picturesque, but technically challenging Oulton Park track.
Qualifying for race one saw him finish eighth, but an adjustment to his Mercedes-powered Raikkonen Robertson Racing F3 car's dampers altered his machine's handling for the better, and he aced second qualifying to set the pole position time for race two, a storming 1m28.794s lap, and his first overall pole in British F3.
'Because of the dampers in first qualifying, I was suffering with a lot of oversteer,' explained Kennard. 'But we changed a couple of things between sessions, and the car was fantastic for second qualifying.'
Race one was always going to be tough, as opportunities to pass on the fast, sweeping turns of Oulton are always sparse. But a decent start off the line meant Kennard passed his Double R team-mate Atte Mustonen at the first corner.
He then got stuck behind the slower Rodolfo Gonzalez for most of the race. But a fantastic move in the second half of the race saw Kennard force Gonzalez into a mistake at Old Hall corner, get alongside the Venezuelan at the second turn and then cut back to the inside at the 150mph Island bend to take sixth.
After the pass, Kennard proved just how much quicker he had been than Gonzalez by romping away into the distance at a huge rate of knots, although it was just too late to catch fifth-placed Sebastien Hohenthal.
'I pulled away massively after passing Rodolfo,' said Kennard. 'I had been quicker than him all race long, but it's very hard to pass at Oulton. At least we knew we had the pace for race two, when we started from pole.'
Things did indeed look good for Jonathan as he lined up for his first clear view from the grid since he stormed to the 2004 Formula Palmer Audi Championship. But the start off the grid was not what Kennard had hoped for.
'I got too much wheelspin at the start,' he lamented afterwards. 'The track was very greasy where I was starting from and it was difficult to find any grip'
The slower start meant that the three cars behind Kennard moved ahead of him, leaving him in fourth, and again stuck behind another car, that of Hohenthal.
Try as he might, Kennard could not find a way past the Swede, but he again proved that his race pace is second to none, by setting the fastest lap of the race, a 1m29.491s, which also set a new record for the Oulton track.
Whilst disappointed to finish fourth, having been on pole position, a philosophical Kennard heads to rounds 3 and 4 at Donington Park knowing he has the speed and the car to challenge for wins all year long.
"If I hadn't have had the slow start in race two, I could have won the race fairly easily, judging by the lap times I was setting all the way through," declared Kennard.
The young Kent man will clearly be one to watch this season, and currently sits fifth in the championship standing. Rounds 3 and 4 of the British F3 Championship will be at Donington Park on April 22.