Repeat as Necessary! Parente scores ninth win this season, his 12th podium finish as Carlin Motorsport notches their sixth one-two finish. Before the race started, we lost Tim Bridgman (Hitech Racing), a man who seems determined to prove the ...
Repeat as Necessary!
Parente scores ninth win this season, his 12th podium finish as Carlin Motorsport notches their sixth one-two finish.
Before the race started, we lost Tim Bridgman (Hitech Racing), a man who seems determined to prove the Chinese curse about living in interesting times. With a dreadful cold hampering him to start with, he was somehow inexplicably short of tyres for the second race of the day. The advice from Avon was that if he only had wet weather tyres left, he'd be seriously ill- advised to try and race on them, especially as it didn't look likely to rain at this stage of the afternoon. Tim opted not to attempt the impossible, and sat this race out.
After five Carlin one-two finishes in a row there was just a chance that we might get a change of leader for Round 16. After all, Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing) was on pole, and Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport) was only 2nd. To cap that, Charlie Kimball (Carlin Motorsport) was starting from 5th, so the odds on the two of them being able to grab the first two places seemed rather slimmer than in previous races. However, within a split second of the lights blinking out on the starting gantry, it was clear that Asmer didn't have an answer. Parente tore off the line, while the Estonian jinked to the right to try and stop him. However, he was way too slow, and by the time he'd corrected his trajectory, he'd been passed by Mike Conway (Fortec Motorsport) and the fast-starting Kimball. Asmer must have been kicking himself because this was his second dreadful start of the day.
Further back, however, trouble was brewing. The mid-field melee had been more ferocious than normal, and Charlie Hollings (Promatecme F3) ended up in the wall, two-thirds of the way down the pit straight. Quite who was to blame it was hard to tell, though Ryan Lewis (T-Sport) may well have been involved. Whatever the cause, the marshals bravely rushed to the scene to try and sort it all out. Unfortunately, it wasn't the only chaos. Round at Club, Alejandro Nunez (HBR Motorsport) was off the track, taking Jonathan Kennard with him. Kennard got going again, and he and Lewis both pitted just as the Safety Car came out to slow the field up and give the marshals time to clear away the mess. They were both able to take their places at the back of the field, though still on the same lap as the rest of the field, thanks to the very slow pace of the Safety Car.
Once again Parente settled in to head the field, with Conway behind him, Kimball in 3rd, and Asmer 4th. Bruno Senna (Double R Racing) was next, from Danilo Dirani (P1 Motorsport), Steven Kane (Promatecme F3), Daniel Clarke (Double R Racing), James Walker (Fortec Motorsport) and Christian Bakkerud (Carlin Motorsport). 11th was Stephen Jelley (Menu Motorsport), the blue car sporting a chromed airbox, just because they could. National Class leader Salvador Duran (P1 Motorsport) was 12th overall, with birthday boy Barton Mawer (T-Sport) right behind him, followed by Ben Clucas (Fluid Motorsport), Josh Fisher (Team SWR), Juho Annala (Alan Docking Racing), Karl Reindler (Alan Docking Racing), Ronayne O'Mahony (Fortec Motorsport), Ricardo Teixeira (Carlin Motorsport) and Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport).
Cheong Lou Meng (Edenbridge Racing) was 21st, fighting it out at the back with Nick Jones (Team SWR) as usual, while Michael Herck (Junior Racing Team) was next having recovered from getting involved in the Club incident too. Lewis and Kennard were back out in the last two places. It took two laps to clear the mess away, and at the restart Parente again kept an iron grip on the lead, controlling what happened. Conway tried to find a way round into Copse, but he just wasn't close enough to make the attempt. Asmer, in the other hand, got the better of Kimball into Copse, snatching 3rd from the American. Dirani also lost ground, when he managed to get it all wrong round the back of the circuit, losing places to Clarke and Kane, who swapped places and overtook him as well when he shot up the escape road and had to disentangle himself in order to continue.
That left Senna free to concentrate on Kimball, while Kimball was trying all sorts to get Asmer. At the front Parente was really working hard to keep ahead of Conway. It could have been much worse for the series leader admittedly, but it was keeping him honest even so. Neither he nor Kimball were about to say die, that was for sure. However, just when it looked like Parente might have his work cut out, the pressure suddenly lifted as Conway slowed, his car now clearly horribly unwell. As he coasted to a halt, Parente continued serenely on his way to his ninth victory of the year, and his 12th podium position from 14 races. It didn't look as if anyone could challenge him this time out, not now Conway was out of contention. Asmer was too busy trying to hold off Kimball, the Estonian never able to break away.
Bakkerud was now trying to join the party too, the Dane apparently now finding the new engine beginning to work much better than it had in Round 15. He was beginning to close down Walker, though it looked as if it wouldn't exactly be easy. The likable youngster was mostly disregarded by the crowds this time though, because there was a major battle going on back in the National Class now. Mawer had made a mistake and dropped away from a leadership challenge, but Clucas was now after Duran, and Fisher had gone with him. Annala dropped back a little after he was passed by Reindler and O'Mahony, but he now had the Australian series leader right behind him. It was unlikely Mawer would stay there for long, and sure enough, he didn't. Herck also managed to get ahead, and that left Kennard behind the young Finn. For a couple of laps there was a terrific battle, which eventually ended with Herck getting the better of Mawer on the last lap. This was no great concern as Herck was one of only two runners in the Invitation Class, Nunez having been the other. Annala lost out to Kennard to his great annoyance, but at least the Finn was happier with his car at long last, having dialled a great deal of the understeer out of the thing to make its handling much more to his liking. And of course they all gained a place when Reindler dropped out went missing on lap 8, but no one seemed to be able to say why the likable Aussie had gone.
Back in the Championship Class, the top three were trading fastest laps with Parente grabbing it on lap 7, and losing it a lap later to Asmer, who held it for the length of time it took Kimball to break the timing beam. However, on lap 9 Parente grabbed it back after the air temperature cooled suddenly. As far as he was concerned he wasn't about to give it back, and he held it till the end, claiming the maximum available points for this round.
While all that was going on, a little back from them Kane was closing on Clarke, and had now taken to looming large in the No. 27 car's mirrors. It must have been quite unnerving, and although Kane was locking up in his efforts he was out for revenge after Round 15 and was determined to get it. Clarke was having to defend himself at every turn against the Lola driver, but it simply wasn't enough. Kane finally got the better of him by driving all the way round the outside of Clarke, and despite Clarke trying to get his place back at Abbey it was too late. Clarke clearly didn't want to quit in his efforts to get 5th place back, but now he had Dirani all over him again. It really wasn't quite the drive in the park he could have hoped for.
With the race moving into its closing stages there was change at the front and back of the field. With five laps to go, Cheong came across the line with the Mugen-Honda behind him sputtering horribly and within half a lap he was out of the race. Meanwhile, Asmer was getting more attention than he really appreciated from Kimball, as they both disputed 2nd place. What kept happening was that Kimball would catch the Estonian at Stowe only to lose out again at Brooklands. However, he was trying to force a mistake and he finally got what he wanted when Asmer dropped his wheels on the grass at Copse at 150 mph and promptly found out why that wasn't a good idea! He was lucky to only lose 3 places, and was able to rejoin in 5th place, thus handing Carlin Motorsport their sixth straight top two. Kimball was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, and he gratefully took the promotion to follow Parente over the line, 64 points behind his teammate. Bruno Senna, meanwhile, had inherited a podium position after Asmer messed up, and he was probably the happiest man up there!
4th was Kane, a welcome change in fortune for him, while Asmer scraped together 5th from pole, his fortunes still very much in the doldrums. Clarke was 6th from Dirani, Walker, Bakkerud and Jelley. 11th and National Class winner was Duran, from Clucas, with O'Mahony and Lewis splitting them from the 3rd placed National Class man Fisher. Herck was next, from Mawer, Kennard, Annala and Ihara. 21st was Teixeira, and the last place was claimed by Jones.
Points for fastest lap went to Parente, Duran and Herck.
Afterwards, Parente was characteristically modest about his achievements: "My start was very good. It was my best start of the three races. At the start I pulled away from Conway, even though my car's tyres only came in slowly. It meant I had some oversteer, but Asmer and Charlie were fighting and that let me pull away a little more. It meant I could win by a comfortable margin."
Of course, one man's peaceful drive in the country can be offset against another's fight against the field. Kimball was delighted to inherit a good second place, though he did seem to have had an interesting time out there: "I got a good start and I was able to go from 5th on the grid to 3rd on the first lap, but then I botched the restart after the Safety Car. I had a bit of a battle with Marko, but he dropped a wheel on the inside at Stowe so I waited till his car got away from him and went past. Later Conway pulled off to the side and Marko's car seemed to be getting slower and slower. Then he dropped his wheels off the track at Copse and going on the inside on the grass at 150mph is so not good. All I saw were rocks and some smoke and he was gone! I just couldn't catch Alvaro though."
Senna was delighted to be at the press conference, and expressed a hope that he might be there again very soon: "I got a good start and got Asmer, but he took me back at Copse. I finally got a tow into Stowe and braked really late when he tried to outbreak me. I went really wide, and then was able to get Kane too. After that it was just not making any mistakes."
Duran was finally leading the National Class after Mawer's dreadful weekend. He'd finally had a very easy race and wasn't at all displeased, He certainly thought he might have turned the corner as regards beating the Australian: "It was not a difficult race. We've worked on the car all the year and now we are faster than them. It was a comfortable race for me. Now the championship is important."
Clucas had known that 2nd was the best he could hope for. In fact it was more than he'd hoped for. "I was pretty slow on Tuesday in testing and I didn't know what to expect here his weekend. For the second race we went in the wrong direction and I had oversteer, so I can't really complain about having 2nd place. We went to Castle Combe with one test day and to Monza with no more than that, so I've only had 3 test days in the car. I'm really happy about getting 2 second places."
Fisher too was somewhat surprised to be up there: "I only had 3 hours of testing on Tuesday.we've not tested a lot of miles before this weekend, and the team has no data so to come away with two 3rd places is really good. Of course it helped when Charlie (Hollings) had a bit of a love session with a wall."
Rounds 17 & 18, September 2nd/4th, Nurburgring, Germany.