Qualifying Report: Weather: Dry, windy, sunny It became clear in the morning session that - as is often the case at Silverstone - it wasn't worth trying to run for the full 30 minutes, because this week's Avons wouldn't last that long. There...
Weather: Dry, windy, sunny
It became clear in the morning session that - as is often the case at Silverstone - it wasn't worth trying to run for the full 30 minutes, because this week's Avons wouldn't last that long. There was, therefore, a clear-cut choice. Either go out straight away and give up the struggle after 20 minutes or so, or wait and let everyone else rush around for a while before emerging onto a cleanish track. As a result there was hardly what could be described as a rush to get out. Both of the Australians in the Championship Class (Will Power for Alan Docking Racing and Will Davison for Menu Motorsport) chose to loiter in the pits, while an early run at the front was left to the P1 pairing of Ernesto Viso and Adam Carroll and an impatient Nelson A Piquet (Piquet Sports). Needless to say they were all rapidly showing pace, with Carroll snatching provisional pole early on, though he was going to have his work cut out of he wanted to keep it.
In addition, Lucas di Grassi (Hitech Racing) and his team-mate Andrew Thompson were both looking far more useful than they had in the morning session. Upholding Carlin Motorsport's honour, Danilo Dirani was again very quick, displacing Carroll for the time being, while Piquet was now 3rd, and James Rossiter (Fortec Motorsport) was again looking quick. Carroll wasn't standing for demotion, though, and took pole back from Dirani, being joined almost immediately on the front row by Viso. Suddenly it was all happening out there, with Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport) edging Dirani down even further, and Rossiter settling in in 4th.
It wasn't long before it was all change, though, with James Walker (Hitech) looking rather more confident than he had in the morning, and edging his way into 5th place, just ahead of Danny Watts (Promatecme F3) in the hideously liveried Lola-Dome. Still, at least it meant he had some sponsorship, and it didn't look much worse than Piquet's lilac coloured Dallara. Piquet himself had slipped right down the order, but was beginning to wind himself up for a serious run at pole. And then Davison seemed to feel he had to join in. In the morning things had really not gone well for him, but that looked as if it was all about to change. The top men were still Carroll and Viso, but Dirani was threatening them and Walker was still running strongly. Davison struggled again to begin with but seemed to suddenly find his form, leapfrogging from 17th to 12th, to 7th. Meanwhile, Piquet was playing a waiting game and was now in the pits for fresh rubber and some wing adjustments. After a trying morning, Carlin's Clivio Piccione was in better shape too, moving to 3rd, but there was still a lot of the session left before he could begin to feel secure. Meanwhile Fairuz Fauzy (Menu Motorsport) was 4th, which seemed to spur Davison to greater efforts.
Not wanting to leave it too late, Power finally elected to emerge from the pit lane and join the fun too, though it took him a while to find enough clear space to go for it. Meanwhile, the early front-runners were beginning to run into trouble. Piquet was 11th and Rossiter was a distant 23rd, and not looking too good. Had they both started their runs too soon?
Davison clearly hadn't, as was demonstrated when he split the P1 duo to snatch 2nd from Viso, who was pushed further back by di Grassi taking 3rd. In the Scholarship Class, Adam Langley-Kahn (Alan Docking Racing) was ahead of Ryan Lewis (T-Sport), the latter making a determined effort to do something about it.
By the halfway mark, Power had given everyone something of a surprise, and was sitting in provisional pole, ahead of Carroll, di Grassi, Davison, Parente and Fauzy, but it was still a long way from being over. Carroll went missing shortly afterwards, which rather wrecked his chances, but Rossiter seemed to wake up, edging back onto the front row, only to be shoved back down when Piquet raised the bar and displaced Power. It was getting interesting out there.And then di Grassi was back up to 2nd and looking like a threat. And back in the Scholarship Class Stephen Jelley (Performance Racing) was struggling in 3rd and wondering what it would take to demote Lewis and Langley-Khan.
The battle for Championship Class pole was beginning to resolve itself at last and seemed to have come down to a straight fight between Dirani and Power, with Power holding the upper hand. Carroll, and most especially Viso, were left to rue their early start and wonder if they might have been better to wait. Carroll was now 3rd but he couldn't do much about the pair ahead of him, and Viso was clinging to the tail-end of the top ten in desperation, wondering how it happened. Possibly unwisely, Power now decided that he had done as much as he could. The Australian pitted and clambered out, wandering over to watch the timing screens. And Dirani saw his opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. There was a moment when it looked as if it was about to become an all Brazilian front row, as Piquet banged in one more time on tyres that were not quite past their best; the result was 3rd place on the grid, ahead of di Grassi and Rossiter.
There were still a few minutes left, but no one seemed to have sufficient grip to make use of the available time, and so the order ended up being Dirani from Power, Piquet, di Grassi, Rossiter, Carroll, Watts, Davison, Piccione and Parente. Fauzy was 11th and Viso slipped to 12th and could do nothing about it. 13th was Thompson, from Karun Chandhok (T-Sport), Marko Asmer (Hitech) and Walker. In a last minute effort Jelley snatched Scholarship Class pole from Lewis, with Barton Mawer (Performance Racing) in 3rd. Langley-Khan couldn't hang on to his early advantage and was 4th in class, ahead of Lars Sexton (Planet Racing), Vasilije Calasan (Promatecme F3) and Ajit Kumar (Mango Racing), the Bollywood star still some way off the pace, but getting faster by the session.
By: Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite