BF3

The Irish kid sweeps poles at Mondello Park

Possibly because most of the fast times were set in the first part of the morning session, there was a mass rush for the pit lane exit at the start of the qualifying session for Round 20. This time Ronayne O'Mahony (Fortec Motorsport) was first...

Possibly because most of the fast times were set in the first part of the morning session, there was a mass rush for the pit lane exit at the start of the qualifying session for Round 20. This time Ronayne O'Mahony (Fortec Motorsport) was first out of the pits, and onto the track, but this didn't make him especially fast. Instead, Danilo Dirani (P1 Motorsport) was the first man to present himself as a target this time. He quickly found he had Mike Conway (Fortec Motorsport), Steven Kane (Promatecme F3) and Stephen Jelley (Menu Motorsport) trailing in his wake and looking very keen to get ahead if they could. With 18 of the 23 runners out on the track, the times started to come down very quickly indeed. The changes kept on coming, with Conway leaping ahead next, trailing Dan Clarke (Double R Racing) and Dirani. That put Jelley to 4th. He wouldn't stay there for long, but he was enjoying it while it lasted. It lasted all of a lap, before Charlie Kimball (Carlin Motorsport) grabbed pole, followed by Ryan Lewis (T-Sport).

Meanwhile, the battle for National Class looked like it was over before it had begun. Salvador Duran (P1 Motorsport) reckoned he'd made a mistake or two in the morning session and he didn't intend to repeat any of them this time round if he could help it; sitting in 6th overall, it didn't look like he was going to.

Just ahead of him, the fight for overall positions was still raging. Bruno Senna (Double R Racing) was now joining in as well, the young Brazilian slotting in to 4th place. However, they were all surprised by Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport), the 2005 champion starting his latest lap in 19th place and finishing it in 2nd. It was quite a performance. The next thing anyone knew, Conway was ahead of Kimball for pole, and Jelley had slipped past Parente to move into 3rd. It was beginning to look like it might be Jelley's best performance of the season, or any season for that matter. Just to prove it wasn't over yet, Kimball went back to pole, and Parente, in a display of solidarity, took the other front row slot. No doubt Trevor Carlin would have been delighted if the session could have ended then. Sadly for him, it didn't.

In the pitlane an absolutely furious Kane had got himself caught behind a badly located GT car that was blocking his exit. After some frantic gesticulation, Kane finally got out and took off onto the track leaving a trail of rubber as he accelerated away. In the meantime, while the aggravated Ulsterman charged round, Parente put in a bid for pole, only to find he had Lewis go with him for 2nd. As Kane crossed the line to complete his latest flying lap, however, notice was served that he was hoping for a second pole position. It was a wild lap and it earned him 6th place. He dived off to the first corner with renewed determination. As he was busy with that, Dirani went to pole, but he was no match for Kane. The next time round he'd wrestled the Lola to pole position and would never be threatened again. The battle would now be for 2nd and the rest.

Actually, the battle was about to go off the rails, but not before a few more people had improved. One of them was Charlie Hollings (Promatecme F3). The Yorkshireman seemed to be in a lot of trouble for the greater part of the session, but he suddenly leapt up the order to 3rd in class. Even so he was a very long way behind Duran; and he was also caught up in a tussle with Barton Mawer (T-Sport), who really wants to take the fight back to Duran for the series lead. It didn't take the Australian long to get ahead, leaving Hollings to try and overhaul him again. It was highly entertaining stuff! Eventually, however, someone was going to come a cropper, and - to no one's great surprise - that someone was Nick Jones (Team SWR). He spun out of contention (not that he's ever been in contention) and by the time he'd sorted himself out everyone else seemed to go slightly mad. While Conway claimed 5th place from Kimball, Hollings also went faster though he couldn't get on terms with Mawer. And his chances were further hampered by the fact that a series of incidents saw the red flags finally brought out to bring the session to a temporary halt with a little under ten minutes left to run. Duran had finally paid the price for pushing too hard and had come off at the first corner. Meanwhile, Karl Reindler (Alan Docking Racing) had also come a cropper, despite running much better than he had in the first session. The final casualty was Christian Bakkerud (Carlin Motorsport), whose Mugen-Honda had cried enough and dropped bits of itself everywhere.

The order at this point was Kane, from Dirani, Parente, Lewis, Conway, Kimball, Jelley, Duran, Bruno Senna (Double R Racing) and James Walker (Fortec Motorsport). 11th was Dan Clarke (Double R Racing), Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing), Reindler, Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing), Bakkerud, O'Mahony, Mawer, Hollings, Juho Annala (Alan Docking Racing) and Josh Fisher (Team SWR). The usual suspects brought up the rear in the shape of Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport), Cheong Lou Men (Edenbridge Racing) and Jones.

At the restart there was even less activity than there had been in the morning's session. In fact, it was pretty much a waste of effort, despite Parente leaving in a flurry of squealing tyres and frantic engine revs. He was back a lap later, and sat out the rest of the session. The only change of any significance to come was from Asmer, who moved ahead of Clarke, but he'd only done enough for 11th place. Admittedly after the morning session it was a huge improvement, but he wasn't exactly impressed.

And so the chequered flag came out. Kane was again on pole, from Dirani, Parente, Lewis, Conway, Kimball, Jelley, Duran, Senna and Walker. 11th was Asmer, ahead of Clarke, Reindler, Kennard, the unfortunate Bakkerud, Hollings, O'Mahony, Mawer, Fisher and Annala. Ihara, Jones and Cheong will start from the back.

Kane grabs pole in Ireland for race one

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Series BF3