British F3 scoreline Fortec 2, Carlin 1 after Oulton thrillers
Three great races - three different winners. That was the exciting outcome of today’s Oulton Park opening rounds of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series. Carlin’s Jack Harvey claimed a win and second place to take the championship lead with the Fortec team the day’s biggest winners, team-mates Pipo Derani and Felix Serralles claiming a win apiece.
Jack Harvey opened his account with a near-perfect performance at Oulton Park this morning, leading all the way from pole position to chequered flag to win round one by a 7.7s margin.
Despite setting his pole time on a cold but dry track yesterday and having to race in unfamiliar warmer but very wet conditions, the Lincolnshire 19-year-old made a good start and no errors to head home his Carlin team-mate Jazeman Jaafar. The only thing Racing Steps Foundation driver Harvey lacked was the extra championship point gained for fastest lap of the race, which went elsewhere.
“I wasn’t really happy with my start,” said the Volkswagen-powered driver. “Jazeman was right behind me into the first turn, and he started from third, so I may have a little work to do there. But after that I pushed hard; I needed to, to establish a gap, and then in the last laps I reined it in a bit. The team did a great job for me: the conditions couldn’t have been more different compared with yesterday.”
Jaafar’s super start caught Harry Tincknell by surprise, the Malaysian slotting ahead of the Exeter man into Old Hall for the first time. Jaafar kept a watching brief behind Harvey for the duration but by his own admission was unable to do anything about catching the leader.
The battle for third was a highlight, with Carlos Sainz seizing it from Tincknell at the start of the eighth lap after the Spaniard got a better exit from Lodge corner. Carlos might reasonably have expected that to have settled matters, but he came under fierce late-race pressure from Fortec’s Dutch driver Hannes van Asseldonk.
Mercedes-powered Hannes, who started seventh, moved into fifth on the opening lap and snatched fourth from Tincknell on lap 12. Van Asseldonk then brilliantly closed down the gap between himself and Sainz to threaten him for the final podium slot in the closing moments. Alas it was went wrong on the final lap, Hannes sliding off at Druids and out of the race. His consolation was fastest lap and one point.
Sainz was therefore third on his British F3 debut. “It is a really good result for the start of the season,” he said. “It’s a really difficult track for a rookie, and even more difficult in the wet.”
Fortec’s Alex Lynn battled with Tincknell over fourth spot for the last third of the race but the more experienced Harry kept the upper hand at the line by 0.049s. Double R’s Fahmi Ilyas bounced back from his qualifying crash yesterday to claim sixth ahead of his team-mate Felix Serralles and Carlin’s Pietro Fantin. Pipo Derani (Fortec) and Nick McBride (T-Sport) engaged in some synchronised spinning at the final corner but recovered to finish ninth and 10th respectively.
In the National class, Spike Goddard did not put a wheel wrong to claim class victory in his first British F3 race, the T-Sport man finishing nearly a full lap ahead of his rival, Double R’s Duvashen Padayachee.
Pipo Derani scored his maiden Cooper Tires British Formula 3 race victory this afternoon at Oulton Park, the Brazilian seizing control of the 20-minute ‘reverse grid’ sprint race early on and hanging on for a classy win despite a lengthy late safety car period. The 18-year-old from Sao Paulo gave the Fortec Motorsport team and engine supplier Mercedes-Benz their first win of the season.
Derani, who started fourth on the grid, moved in front on the fifth lap, having seized second from T-Sport man Nick McBride on the second lap. The man in front early doors was Australian National class runner Spike Goddard, who did a manly job in only his second British F3 race after starting from second on the grid.
Derani enjoyed three laps stretching his legs in front before the safety car was called out while the sister Fortec car of Alex Lynn was retrieved from a dangerous position. Lynn had swiped a tyre wall at the Hislops chicane while running fifth. Pipo had to hold his concentration for four laps while the track was cleared but responded perfectly to make a superb restart on the final racing lap. He crossed the line 0.85s ahead of his countryman Pietro Fantin.
“My first win - it feels amazing, really good,” said Derani. “I have been looking for this for a long time and to finally do it, to bring the result home, is really good. I had only one worry in the race, when the safety car came out and I had a good lead. But I managed to make a good restart and there was only one lap to go, so it was fine.”
Malaysia’s Jazeman Jaafar drove a superb race from 11th on the grid to climb up to third by mid-distance. He held on to the final podium position to the end to establish a slender championship lead. “It was a crazy race,” said Jaz, “and I just had to keep it clean and safe, and I got a good result.”
Harry Tincknell held off his Carlin team-mates Carlos Sainz and Jack Harvey for fourth, with Felix Serralles seventh for Fortec after losing ground through a second-lap off. His team-mate Hannes van Asseldonk was eighth, just ahead of National class victor Goddard. “It was really, really nice to be out front for so long,” said Spike. “It’s a healthy sign for later this season and definitely for next year.”
The remaining finishers were 10th-placed Geoff Uhrhane, who placed ahead of his countrymen McBride and Duvashen Padayachee, who had started from the pole in his National class car. Fahmi Ilyas joined Lynn off the track on the final tour.
Puerto Rico has a new national hero - Felix Serralles, the rookie racer who rocked the establishment this afternoon at Oulton Park to win round three. He’s the first of his countrymen to win a race in the world’s premier Formula 1 feeder series.
Serralles, 19, effectively won the race away from the startline, outgunning pole man and round one victor Jack Harvey to snatch the advantage into Old Hall corner. Felix drove impeccably throughout the 40-minute feature race to win by 2.8s and claim the Fortec team’s second victory of the day. Harvey placed second to end the day with a six-point lead in the championship.
Serralles was jubilant: “Coming into the weekend I certainly did not expect to take a win. This year there are a lot of competitive and very experienced drivers. This is my first year and my first time in an F3 car, so it is an amazing feeling to have won and I am very pleased. I had a really good start, got ahead of Harvey and really just pulled away. I am the only driver from Puerto Rico racing in Europe, and that makes it special too.”
Harvey was pleased with his second place which, added to his earlier win, hands him the championship lead - at least for a week: “I was hoping for two wins, but it was not to be. I nearly achieved it but fair play to Felix he made a great start and drove a great race; he deserved to win. I thought I had made an OK start, so maybe that’s something we need to work on. I’m looking forward to next weekend’s races at Monza - I have always gone well there.”
Round three was interrupted at the outset when the Fortec car of race two winner Pipo Derani seized on the line; the safety car had to be called in while it was manhandled from the track, and that meant Serralles’ early lead was wiped. When the race was restarted after three laps, Serralles made the perfect getaway once again and put half a second between himself and Harvey. From then on, the pattern of the race was set.
Harry Tincknell slotted into third off the line and held on there to claim the final podium slot. His hand - badly broken in a testing crash late last year - held up well to the abuse. “It’s a bit sore,” said Harry, “and I noticed that towards the end of the race, which maybe affected my concentration a little. But when I think back to lying in my hospital bed last year, not sure whether I would ever race again, to be standing here on the podium on my first weekend back is amazing.”
Carlos Sainz led home his Carlin team-mate Jazeman Jaafar for fourth, with Alex Lynn sixth for Fortec. Hannes van Asseldonk ran out of road after five laps to join his Fortec team-mate Derani in retirement.
Spike Goddard made it three out of three in the National class, leading all the way for T-Sport to win the class by 20s from Double R’s Duvashen Padayachee.