In a race cut short by an accident to Alistair Jackson (Ultimate Motorsport) Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport) reclaimed the lead in this year's British F3 International Series, leading home team-mate Oliver Turvey, with Atte Mustonen (Double...
In a race cut short by an accident to Alistair Jackson (Ultimate Motorsport) Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport) reclaimed the lead in this year's British F3 International Series, leading home team-mate Oliver Turvey, with Atte Mustonen (Double R Racing) in 3rd after the latter part of the race was run behind the Safety Car. In the National Class Jay Bridger (Fluid Motorsport) took advantage of the absence of Andy Meyrick (Carlin Motorsport) to claim another victory after holding off rookie Jonathan Legris (Litespeed F3) and Steven Guerrero (T-Sport) in a race long scrap.
After a massive sort out in the Clerk of the Course's office last night, the official times from qualifying were finally issued, with Marcus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport), Brendon Hartley (Carlin Motorsport) and John Martin (Double R Racing) all being handed time penalties for "not slowing sufficiently under yellow flags", which meant Ericsson would start 6th instead of from pole. Additionally, Sam Abay (Carlin Motorsport) and Jackson would both start from the back row of the grid, having had all their times disallowed for overtaking under yellows during qualifying. And just for good measure, the Litespeed F3 team were fined and reprimanded for refuelling during the session in direct contravention of the regulations. They said they hadn't known, but there's no real excuse for not familiarizing yourself with the regulations.
Anyway, once the dust had settled it was time to go racing. Alguersuari took full advantage of having been promoted to pole to get away in the lead, while a good start by Turvey saw him get the drop on a sluggish Mustonen (who crept and then bogged down when it mattered) to claim second as the field tore through Paddock Hill Bend for the first time. If Mustonen's start was bad, it was as nothing compared to the start Sebastian Hohenthal (Fortec Motorsport) got, the Swede back in 20th by the time the pack arrived at Druids. Even worse was Henry Arundel's attempt to get off the line. The Double R driver stalled and had to get going by rolling slowly towards the line, with the result that he was just crossing the start/finish line as the tail enders vanished into the scenery round the back of the circuit. He really wasn't having a good day.
Alguersuari wasn't messing about, starting to break away from the chasing pack as soon as he could, and soon had clear air between himself and Turvey, who was holding off Mustonen without too much trouble. From further back, Hartley was the only other driver who seemed able to get close to Alguersuari's pace, but even though he made up two places through Graham Hill Bend on the first lap, he was too face back to really make any impact on the leaders. Abay was also demonstrating the pace of the Carlin cars and had leaped up the order from the start to run in 21st at the end of the first lap. In the National Class, Bridger was already in the lead from Legris, who had made a blinding start, and had taken several of the others by surprise. Guerrero was right with Legris, and had Stefan Wilson (Fluid Motorsport) and Salman Al Khalifa (T-Sport) snapping at his heels, the five of them covered by less than a second. Abay would have to try and pick his way through them to get back into contention, as would Jackson, who wasn't making anything like as much progress as the Australian to no one's great surprise.
Meanwhile, behind the leaders Mustonen was being hounded by Sergio Perez (T-Sport) who was keen to defend his one-point lead from Alguersuari, but who couldn't find a way past the Finn. Behind the two of them Ericsson was biding his time and hoping for an opportunity to pass, but it would not be forthcoming. And at the front Alguersuari continued to pull away, setting a series of fastest laps that would culminate in a new lap record. Frankly it had all become somewhat processional at the front so the interest was in seeing how the various penalized individuals got on in their attempts to fight their way up the field.
Abay was probably making the most progress, but was now having to be careful; he'd made it to 17th from 26th but was now in the middle of the five-car scrap for the National Class. As they were all very focused on their own battle, Abay couldn't afford to make a mistake, or to assume that they knew he was there. It took him till lap 8 to get through, and he then set about catching Max Chilton (Hitech Racing) and Martin, who was busy passing the teenager for 12th. Certainly Abay's progress was more impressive than anything Jackson was managing, the Ultimate driver in 20th and stuck behind the National Class battle.
And then things started to fall apart. It began when Martin passed Chilton to claim 9th after the latter went incredibly wide at Surtees. Shortly after that Chilton was in even more trouble, going off at Paddock big time and striking the barriers hard. He was soon out of the car, but was carted away to the medical centre for a check when it seemed as if he might have broken a bone in his foot.
Shortly after that Ericsson made a huge mistake going into Druids and lost a lot of ground. Walter Grubmuller (Hitech Racing) suddenly found himself on the Swede's gearbox and took a long hard look, but couldn't quite make it stick. Meanwhile, as Hartley set the second fastest lap of the race, Hohenthal called it a day and pulled into pits, disgusted with his lack of pace. Someone having no trouble with pace was Alguersuari, though the Spaniard now seemed to be relaxing a bit, helped by the fact that he now had an 8.5 second lead and looked able to extend that at his leisure should it prove necessary.
Further back, Abay had just snatched another place, Ultimate Motorsport's Ricardo Teixeira not proving to be much of a challenge. Elsewhere, Jackson was now mixing it with the National Class, where Bridger was still being harassed by Legris and Guerrero. It was to be hoped that Jackson would have a smooth run through a battle that was nothing to do with him. He didn't get it and a lap later he went off big time at Surtees when he got his wheels on the kerbs and lost control. The Safety Car was scrambled and picked up Mick Devaney (Ultimate Motorsport) rather than Alguersuari, who was still leading from Turvey, Mustonen, Perez, Ericsson, Grubmuller, Nick Tandy (John Tandy Racing), Hartley, Martin and Devaney. Philip Major (Fortec Motorsport) was 11th, with Abay now behind him, ahead of Teixeira, Bridger, Legris, Guerrero, Al Khalifa, Wilson, Viktor Jensen (Nexa Racing) and Arundel. Martin O'Connell (Carlin Motorsport) was 21st, standing in for Meyrick, ahead of Hywel Lloyd (C F Motorsport), Jordan Williams (Team Loctite) and a very frustrated Kristjan Einar (Carlin Motorsport).
For several laps they sat behind the Safety Car, but the crash seemed to be taking a very long time to clear. When it became obvious that it would not be clear in time for a restart, the race was red flagged and then the chequered was hung out. Jackson was apparently conscious and had been taken away strapped to a back board. Certainly the impact was enormous and latest news is that the Jackson is in hospital where he will be kept under observation. The most recent report suggests he is fine, but he was complaining of neck pains, and one of his knees is hurting, so he will not be racing this afternoon. Even had he been fit to drive, the team had no option but to withdraw from the second race of the day as there's not a great deal left of the car.
The results, therefore, were issued at 16 laps, and they finished in the order they were behind the Safety Car.
The fastest laps of the race went to Alguersuari and Bridger.