Ricciardo sweeps Brands Hatch for second pole

Having qualified on pole for the first race of the weekend, Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin Motorsport) was going for the full set, scoring a second pole for the final race of the season. Again the Australian made it look easy, powering round the track and just missing out on a time in the 1:16s.

Daniel Ricciardo.
Photo by Stella-Maria Thomas.

Second was Max Chilton (Carlin Motorsport) just as he was this morning, and to complete that feeling of d?j? vu, Riki Christodoulou (Fortec Motorsport) was again third. The Invitation Class pole went to Marcus Ericsson (R?ikk?nen Robertson Racing), the only runner in the class ending up fourth overall. National Class pole went to Gabriel Dias (T-Sport) from Daniel McKenzie (Fortec Motorsport) and Joe Ghanem (Carlin Motorsport).

In the early stages it was Ericsson who was on top from Wayne Boyd (T- Sport), Victor Garcia (Fortec Motorsport) and Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing). However, the track was far from busy yet. This was proven by the fact that Victor Correa (Litespeed F3) was leading the National Class from McKenzie, which seemed a bit unlikely.

Boyd was the next to top the order but he was soon shuffled down again by Henry Arundel (Carlin Motorsport) while all behind him were scuffling for positions. And meanwhile McKenzie had got ahead in the National Class. Ericsson then snatched pole from Arundel after a series of best sector times before everyone had to briefly slow down while Max Snegirev (Team West-Tec) had the first of his usual offs, this time at Clark. As the hapless Russian sorted himself out, Arundel went back to pole, shoving Ericsson unceremoniously down to 2nd. The National Class pole went back to Ghanem, the young Lebanese proving more than capable in what is only his second race since 2007.

The usual Brands Hatch rush for a tyre reshuffle was also now developing, the charge led by Boyd who came in to have the lefts and rights swapped over in an effort to even out the wear. That opened the floodgates and a host of other drivers started to follow suit. And Ricciardo still hadn't actually set a time...

The fact that some drivers were at the pit stop stage was enough to trigger the rest of them into going out, and that led to a rash of improvements. Walter Grubm?ller (Hitech Racing) was the first to show signs of life, going 3rd now ahead of Adriano Buzaid (T-Sport), Boyd and Garcia. Arundel was still on pole, by 0.777 seconds, but his position was starting to look very vulnerable. He wasn't the only one; Ghanem was still just ahead of McKenzie and he too was starting to look as if he might lose out to the more experienced runner. Grubm?ller moved up to 2nd while Philip Major (Carlin Motorsport) did enough to go 4th. However, the last few runners were now out which meant Chilton, Ricciardo, Carlos Huertas (R?ikk?nen Robertson Racing), Dias and Christodoulou finally emerged.

The next round of improvements saw Huertas go 11th, while Nakajima improved to 4th, hampering Huertas as he went. A lap later and a somewhat aggrieved Huertas had improved 2nd, which was probably a bit of a case of "I'll show him!" It wasn't enough to get Arundel though - he was still around half a second clear, but Ricciardo and Chilton were now both winding up to make their efforts and a wise person would not have bet against the Australian. And so it proved, Ricciardo moving onto pole now and Chilton following him for 2nd to make an all Carlin top three.

The National Class was temporarily Carlin as well, until Dias set his first proper flying lap which put him ahead in the class. Christodoulou, meanwhile, was now third overall while Ricciardo simply went faster as did Chilton; he still couldn't catch the Aussie no matter what he tried. Behind them, Boyd was 7th now though Nakajima then demoted him, while Jay Bridger (Litespeed F3) was 12th.

And that was half the session gone. Most people were now running out of options or ideas, not something that could be said of Ricciardo. He had been convinced a 1:16 time was possible this morning and now it looked as if he might make good on that promise. Certainly a lap later he was even faster and he seemed to be dragging Chilton with him, both of them looking very impressive indeed this afternoon. A number of drivers had now decided there was nothing more to be done, though Buzaid improved to 7th. Arundel, meanwhile, knew the game was up and retreated to the pits; it was all over as far as he was concerned.

Chilton hadn't given up though and was really pushing now though it was still not quite enough to allow him to overall his rapid team-mate. Grubm?ller was also pushing hard, so much so that he went wide at Clark Curve and messed up his lap. With tyres being swapped as ever (left to right) Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing) got ahead of Bridger for 13th though he seemed curiously off the pace compared to last weekend. Meanwhile McKenzie finally snatched 2nd in the National Class from Ghanem, just before both Lloyd and Ghanem were shown the black and white driving standards flag for "not respecting the track limits". Another improvement came from Huertas who improved though only enough for 7th.

And apart from Nakajima going 5th that was it, with lots of time left on the clock but not much speed in the tyres. In the closing minutes Lloyd had his fastest lap time disallowed for not respecting the track limits and that was that really for the session. Ricciardo took another fine pole from Chilton, Christodoulou, Ericsson, Nakajima, Arundel, Grubm?ller, Huertas, Buzaid and Boyd. 11th went to Major, ahead of Garcia, Lloyd, Bridger, Dias, McKenzie, Ghanem, Correa, Snegirev and Ma Qing Hua (Team West-Tec).

Weather: Warm, sunny.


See also: Ricciardo dominant in Brands qualifying one