Race Report: Weather: Fine, sunny. It was fine dry day at Snetterton, promising to burn the spectators to a crisp before it was done. And in case anyone wanted to fry instead, there were large quantities of oil all over the inside of the first...
Weather: Fine, sunny.
It was fine dry day at Snetterton, promising to burn the spectators to a crisp before it was done. And in case anyone wanted to fry instead, there were large quantities of oil all over the inside of the first corner, left behind by the TVRs and suchlike beforehand. The marshals had coated the mess in cement dust, but there was still a possibility that it would trip some of the bright sparks out there up. We could only hope not.
The lights turned green, and Nelson A Piquet (Piquet Sports) made the most of his grid position to get away into the lead, closely followed by Adam Carroll (P1 Motorsport). Lucas di Grassi (Hitech Racing) and James Rossiter (Fortec Motorsport), on the other hand, both made awful starts. In fact Rossiter's start was so bad that once he got going he got himself tangled up with Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing), taking himself and the Estonian out of the race there and then. Asmer wasn't in the least impressed. "I don't know what he was thinking. You'd better ask him!" was all he would say. So, that's another one for the James Rossiter Fan Club then.
Meanwhile, Carroll had decided he didn't want to be behind Piquet, and he squeezed by at the Chicane to take the lead, setting about pulling away from the Brazilian if he could. However, his efforts were about to prove a waste of time. Alvaro Parent (Carlin Motorsport) was off at Riches, not quite in the cornfield, but nonetheless in a dangerous position. With Asmer and Rossiter also littering the scenery it was time for the inevitable SC boards (Someone's Crashed perhaps?) and a Safety Car period.
Unlike in previous years here, they got the Safety Car procedure right first time, and the leaders settled in behind it in a tidy stream. And so they would remain for another two laps, Carroll leading from Piquet, with Will Power (Alan Docking Racing) in third place, the Australian having wrestled his way ahead of Ernesto Viso (P1 Motorsport) and Danilo Dirani (Carlin Motorsport) the lap previously. Dirani then passed Viso and settled in to 4th place. In 6th was Danny Watts (Promatecme F3) in the Lola-Dome, who'd gained a place when Clivio Piccione (Carlin Motorsport) got into difficulties at Riches, then Fairuz Fauzy (Menu Motorsport), Karun Chandhok (T-Sport) and Fauzy's teammate Will Davison. 10th was James Walker, ahead of the recovering di Grassi and Piccione. Ryan Lewis (T-Sport) was next, in the lead of the Scholarship Class, ahead of Stephen Jelley (Performance Racing), Andrew Thompson (Hitech Racing), Marcus Marshall (Fortec Motorsport), Barton Mawer (Performance Racing), Adam Khan (Alan Docking Racing), Vasilije Calasan (Promatecme F3) and Ajit Kumar (Mango Racing).
At the restart, Carroll hung on in there, though Piquet was clearly going to take some shaking. A lap later Chandhok was in the pits, and di Grassi was off in the field, which seemed a bit much, especially given that the marshals had only just cleared the last lot of wreckage away.
After the dust cleared, most of the drivers seemed to calm down, perhaps realizing that they had another race to run before the day was out, and that they therefore should try to avoid bending their cars too badly. Davison didn't seem to bothered, and was setting about his team-mate, and Piquet was looking for a way past Carroll, but other than that, it was relatively quiet out there. Watts took advantage of the fact that everyone had to lap Kumar and caught up with Viso, but getting past him was likely to be another matter altogether. It was this battle that would provide the excitement for the remainder of the race, especially as Viso was clearly holding Watts up. Eventually this would develop into something of a high- speed traffic jam, with Fauzy and Davison also joining in, creating a 16- wheeled Dallara, which isn't the most manoeuvrable of beasts. It gained another 4 wheels towards the end of the race when Piccione started to trip over the fighting foursome, but of course the real problem was that no one really dared make a move for fear of what was behind. The resulting stalemate looked a lot scarier than it probably was, and it lasted all the way to the flag, much to Viso's amusement.
More interestingly, in the closing stages Carroll's much-abused tyres were beginning to go off, and they were going much faster than Piquet's. The Brazilian could see his chance now, and he wasn't going to waste it. He edged ever closer to Carroll, until he could see that Carroll would not be able to hold him off any longer, and then he made his move. Coming round under the bridge for the penultimate time, Piquet simply drove round the outside of Carroll, demoting him to 2nd place, and claiming his second victory of the weekend - as well as of the season. From being 17 points down on Rossiter after Knockhill, Piquet was now leading the championship. Carroll was disappointed but philosophical, knowing that a second podium in as many days would do him no harm at all. They were followed home by Power, who has been getting stronger as the season has progressed, while Dirani came home just ahead of Viso's train of cars, Watts settling for another solid result in 6th, from Fauzy, Davison, Piccione and Walker, who finally scored a point.
In the Scholarship Class it was no surprise to see Lewis claiming yet another victory (and the now almost inevitable point for fastest lap). Marshall was 2nd ahead of Jelley, Mawer, Khan, Calasan and Kumar. At the very back, Chandhok retired from the race with only a lap to go after a very trying sort of morning. If he'd known it wasn't going to improve in the afternoon, he might have given up and gone home at lunchtime.
By: Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite