BF3

Thruxton: Round 24 qualifying report

Qualifying - Round 24: Weather: Windy, dry, sunny (23ºC) This was even worse. On the inside of Allard not a thing could be heard unless the wind was in the right direction, because some genius had set the speakers so that they were pointing...

Qualifying - Round 24:
Weather: Windy, dry, sunny (23ºC)

This was even worse. On the inside of Allard not a thing could be heard unless the wind was in the right direction, because some genius had set the speakers so that they were pointing out over a restricted area and the track, which was not a lot of use when you wanted to hear what was happening. In the Scholarship Class things were going pretty much as expected, with Robert Dahlgren (Sweeney Racing) setting the fastest time early on and hanging on to it.

As the session moved to its end, Harold Primat (Diamond Racing) was busy making friends. The lanky Frenchman spun at the Chicane (as ever, a popular spot for trouble) and manage to badly inconvenience a number of drivers on fast laps. By the time he was out of the way, it was too late for some of them to retrieve much from the lap. Additionally, Adam Carroll (Sweeney Racing) was still struggling to set up his new car, and could only manage 6th place, though Billy Asaro in the third Sweeney car was having an even worse time. He was 8th by the end of the session, with only the two Diamond cars (of Primat and Pedro Barral) and Mohammed Fairuz (Fred Goddard Racing) setting slower times than him. Understandably, he was not exactly happy afterwards.

Meanwhile Dahlgren seemed to be wasting perfectly good tyres by continuing to circulate when he already had a healthy margin, and behind him Justin Sherwood (Performance Racing) was having a far better session than usual. At one stage he was 3rd, just ahead of Gavin Smith (Meritus Racing) and behind Karun Chandhok (T-Sport). An improvement from Stephen Colbert to go 2nd dropped Sherwood to 4th, where he would stay. It all seemed a bit bizarre, especially with Carroll so far and back and Fairuz seeming to find improvement impossible. Another one off the pace was Clivio Piccione (T-Sport). He was looking very wild, as if he couldn't quite figure out what the cause of the problem was. The fact that he was 7th in class suggested that neither could the team.

The weather had improved and it was even warmer by the time the Championship Class cars emerged to play. Once again Bruce Jouanny (Promatecme International) was the class of the field, setting another pole position early on. And once again the main threat to his time came from the tiny Finn, Heikki Kovalainen (Fortec Motorsport). This time "Heidi", as the team like to call him, was 2nd on the grid, just ahead of the men who held everyone's attention as they fought for the Championship Class title, Robbie Kerr (Alan Docking Racing) and James Courtney (Carlin Motorsport). Courtney nearly blew it when he had an off somewhere, but he was able to come back to the pits under his own steam to have grass cleared out of the sidepods. With that small matter dealt with, he got the better of Kerr this time out, although the two of them seemed determined to follow each other round as if they were joined together by a large piece of elastic or some such similar material. Stefan de Groot (Menu Motorsport) again showed well in the session, but then began circulating in close proximity to Rob Austin in the other Menu car. The idea was that they should again help each other to a fast time as they had in the morning session. The only trouble was that this time it didn't work, to the general disgust of Mr. Menu himself. "They were fighting with each other," he complained afterwards. This was not how they were supposed to behave and he was not at all happy about it. This time his drivers ended up 9th (Austin) and 12th (de Groot).

Kovalainen's teammate, Fabio Carbone was 5th, while Ronnie Bremer (Manor Motorsport) was 7th though he claimed to have the 'flu. It looked more like a head cold to be frank; if it was 'flu, it seems unlikely that he would have been there at all, although to be fair he genuinely did not look well. The second Manor driver, Richard Antinucci, was 8th, while Mark Taylor in the third car looked as if he had just bitten into a lemon when he came home in 10th place, just ahead of Stefan Hodgetts (Motaworld Racing). Taylor has secured a drive in the States for next season and you could tell that he really didn't care enough about F3 any more to want to go on like this. He gave the impression that he couldn't wait for this season to be over.

-smt/lw-

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