At Snetterton this afternoon Renger van der Zande (Hitech Racing) was again too much for the competition, qualifying on pole for the second race this weekend. He was again able to hold off the opposition, including his team-mate Walter Grubmuller,...
At Snetterton this afternoon Renger van der Zande (Hitech Racing) was again too much for the competition, qualifying on pole for the second race this weekend. He was again able to hold off the opposition, including his team-mate Walter Grubmuller, while Riki Christodoulou (Fortec Motorsport) was 3rd, the top 14 this time inside one second of the pole time. National Class pole went to Daniel McKenzie (Fortec Motorsport) ahead of Gabriel Dias (T-Sport).
Once again the session started 10 minutes earlier than scheduled, this time catching the Barazi Epsilon guys on the hop. They were still replacing the gearbox in their car, leaving Stephane Richelmi a frustrated observer at the start of the session. After the morning session and the way conditions changed abruptly, most people were keen to get out on the track as soon as possible. It wasn't long before the times started to come down and Grubmuller took an early provisional pole. He was rapidly displaced by Max Chilton (Carlin Motorsport), but it was probably no surprise to anyone when van der Zande rocketed to pole position and was never dislodged again. At this point, Jay Bridger (Litespeed F3/Bridger Motorsport) was 2nd, while McKenzie was on National Class pole though Dias was pushing hard as well. 4th overall was Victor Garcia (Fortec Motorsport), which dropped Grubmuller to 5th. That was enough to push van der Zande to go even faster, to pull seven tenths of a second over the rest of the pack.
There were now 18 cars out on the track, with Richelmi still marooned in the pits, and no sign of Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin Motorsport) either. That was beginning to change though, with the team now adding oil to Richelmi's gearbox. It at least looked as if he might make it out before the session ended.
While all this was going on, Max Snegirev (Team West-Tec) was being warned for not respecting the track limits. As with Richelmi in the morning session you had to wonder how he could be going fast enough to get off line. At the other end of the spectrum, Wayne Boyd (T-Sport) was going well and was 3rd, with team-mate Adriano Buzaid slotting in just behind. A further effort from Boyd moved him to 2nd, with Chilton just a tad slower.
Carlos Huertas (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) was flying the flag for his team at this stage, running in 7th, which was just as well as Daisuke Nakajima in the other Raikkonen-run car was 18th after five timed laps. This was sufficiently unusual as to generate a lot of comment, though he still had quite a lot of the session left to try and remedy the situation. Someone else right down the order was Ricciardo, who was last but only because he'd only just ventured out. He needed to really push now.
Someone who was pushing was Grubmuller, who was 2nd ahead of Buzaid. The National Class meanwhile changed hands as Dias edged ahead of McKenzie to claim 9th overall. It was at this stage that Henry Arundel (Carlin Motorsport) showed signs of joining the party again, the youngster jumping to 7th. That changed again when Nakajima finally woke up and snatched 6th. He wasn't the only one to improve. Chilton moved into 3rd, but couldn't keep it because Christodoulou was just that little bit faster.
With half the session left, Richelmi finally emerged from the garages and onto the track. It at least gave us something to look at, because once again the changes were becoming ever more infrequent. This was to be expected, with the tyres starting to lose their grip. Only Ricciardo, really, had much hope of an improvement, and he proceeded to prove it. His first proper lap he was 11th, while his next lap promoted him to 7th. Nakajima managed to also improve though he ended up just behind the Australian in 8th. Ricciardo wasn't stopping there though. A lap later and he was 5th. That however was a far as he was going. There was nothing left in the tyres and despite improving his times slightly towards the close of the session, it wasn't enough to improve his starting position.
The National Class was still under discussion though, despite the fact that Dias' transponder had apparently stopped working. The Brazilian came back to the pits and there was a certain amount of frantic activity while McKenzie tried to get ahead. It was only in the closing seconds that McKenzie finally got ahead to finish the session 13th overall and right next to his main rival. The last of the improvements went to Garcia, who ended the session in a creditable 8th. The track again steadily emptied long before the flag, with absolutely nothing happening that was worthy of note. It's to be hoped that tomorrow's races are a little more interesting.
Once again van der Zande was on pole, this time from Grubmuller, Christodoulou, Chilton, Ricciardo, Buzaid, Boyd, Garcia, Nakajima and Bridger. Arundel ended up 11th, heading up Huertas, McKenzie, Dias, Hywel Lloyd (CF Racing), Philip Major (Carlin Motorsport), Richelmi (which must have made the team wonder if it had all been worth the panic), Victor Correa (Litespeed F3), Aaron Steele (Litespeed F3) and back in his normal position as a sort of mobile full stop, Snegirev.
Weather: Warm, dry, cloudy.