Weather: fine, sunny. This is not Snetterton - this is Silverstone (or rather this is the race that should have been held at Silverstone, but that had to be abandoned after a deluge of biblical proportions flooded the circuit and we all...
Weather: fine, sunny.
This is not Snetterton - this is Silverstone (or rather this is the race that should have been held at Silverstone, but that had to be abandoned after a deluge of biblical proportions flooded the circuit and we all went home early instead). Everybody clear about that? Good! Although Snetterton is so much shorter than Silverstone, the two circuits have something in common in that they are flat, ex-airfields that can produce some stunningly dull races, where things become processional almost immediately and then nothing at all happens. This wasn't one of those races.
Perhaps in a moment of prescience, Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing) opted to start from the pit lane. As it turned out, it was probably the safest place to be. At least it kept him out of the way of the mayhem that broke out shortly after the lights turned green. At the start, Will Power (Alan Docking Racing) briefly edged ahead, but couldn't hold it and would return almost at the back, while Nelson A Piquet (Piquet Sports) grabbed the lead on the run up to Sears, getting ahead for the first time this season. Meanwhile, current series leader - and after the qualifying sessions for Rounds 9 and 10 possibly the Most Unpopular Man in the Paddock - James Rossiter (Fortec Motorsport) made an awful start, losing significant amounts of ground before the field even reached Riches. Meanwhile, Ernesto Viso (P1 Motorsport) was floundering around near the back of the field and very nearly collected Barton Mawer (Performance Racing) as he did so.
Of course all of this played right into Piquet's hands, and he gratefully took a hold of the lead, despite the best efforts of Adam Carroll (P1 Motorsport), who clearly also thought he could use a win this weekend! Anyway, after some reshuffling, the front-runners seemed to settle, with Danilo Dirani (Carlin Motorsport) and Lucas di Grassi (Hitech Racing) fighting to be second fastest Brazilian of the afternoon (as well as 3rd placed on the track). At the moment, that was going Dirani's way. However, things were falling apart further down the order. In the Scholarship Class, Vasilije Calasan (Promatecme F3) and Barton Mawer (Performance Racing) got tangled up on the approach to Riches. The result of this was that Calasan exited stage left, while Mawer continued, but in possession of a wishbone that was now shaped more like a banana than anything that belongs inside a chicken. A side effect of this was that Stephen Jelley (Performance Racing) also went off, his car disappearing so far into the cornfield that only the top of the roll bar was visible once it stopped. It was all getting a bit agricultural. And that, in effect, was that for the Scholarship Class, the battle ending before it could even begin. Ryan Lewis (T-Sport) must have been laughing all the way to the chequered flag and yet another class victory.
Two laps later and Rossiter was out of the running too. He'd only been 14th anyway, but that wasn't the point. A clash with Karun Chandhok (T-Sport) saw the end of the series leader's race, and afterwards several people came to thank the Indian for removing their least favourite person. A bit harsh perhaps.A lap later, and we'd lost Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing) too, and there were so many cars littering the countryside that the only thing to do was scramble the Safety Car while a cleaning up operation was mounted.
And so they settled in behind the Safety Car, as the circuit sprouted SC (Someone's Crashed?) boards and yellow flags. Piquet was leading from Carroll, Dirani, di Grassi, and Danny Watts in the Lola-Dome, which appears to be well suited to the Norfolk track. In 6th was Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport), from Fairuz Fauzy (Menu Motorsport), the Malaysian's change of number (from 6 to 39) appearing to have also produced a change of fortune for him. In 8th was Clivio Piccione (Carlin Motorsport), from Andrew Thompson (Hitech Racing) and Will Power (Alan Docking Racing). In 11th was James Walker (Hitech Racing), the Englishman still looking to score his first points of the season. On 12th was a deeply dispirited Will Davison (Menu Motorsport), just ahead of the hero of the hour, Chandhok. Lewis was next up, leading his class, while Ernesto Viso (P1 Motorsport) was busy trying to recover lost ground and rejoin the Championship Class runners. 2nd in the Scholarship Class was Adam Khan (Alan Docking Racing), with Mawer hanging on to 3rd despite the pain in his hand, and the state of his Dallara's suspension. Bringing up the rear, as usual, was Ajit Kumar (Mango Racing). The Bollywood actor looked as if the shooting schedule he is saddled with - and the consequent jet-lag - was taking its toll, and he looked less confident even than normal.
Anyway, three laps behind the Safety Car passed with little excitement (apart from Power, who had a brief moment of madness and nearly drove into Walker, having apparently forgotten they were all behind the Safety Car). At the restart Piquet controlled it beautifully, despite anything Carroll could dream up in the way of overtaking manoeuvres. And as far as the battle at the front went, Piquet would have it all his own way to the chequered flag. Carroll wasn't about to throw away his first podium for what must have felt like a very long time by doing something silly. And the one chance he got, he found Kumar (who was busy being lapped) in his way.
The pair behind him, however, seemed to have no such reservations. Dirani was hanging on to 3rd place, but di Grassi really wanted to take it of him. It took him another 10 laps after the removal of the Safety Car, but eventually he forced a way through, making it to the bottom step of the podium at last. Behind him Watts ran a lonely race, with Parente, Fauzy and Piccione not far behind, but not close enough to be any threat. Thompson came home in 9th, but the real battle was for the last point and 10th place. Initially this was just down to Power and Walker, the youngster trying all sorts to dive past the Australian, and repeatedly finding that Power was having none of it. As a result, Davison was able to catch up too, turning it into a three-way fight before they were done. When Chandhok lost the next place to Viso, it became a four-way scrap instead. It had the look of a tussle that could end in tears, or at least in gravel. Walker made a series of mad lunges before it was all over, but he was now having trouble with Viso, so that in effect saved Power from much more annoyance. Not that 10th place was about to make him very happy at all.
And in the Scholarship Class, Lewis coasted home ahead of Khan, Mawer and the lapped Kumar. Apart from the early laps it was a typically dull Snetterton race. Maybe it would stay that way, and we could all avoid any unpleasantness.
By: Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite