After another stoppage-plagued session the British F3 International series boys saw Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport) claim pole position, ahead of Sebastian Hohenthal (Fortec Motorsport) and Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport). Heading up the...
After another stoppage-plagued session the British F3 International series boys saw Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport) claim pole position, ahead of Sebastian Hohenthal (Fortec Motorsport) and Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport). Heading up the National Class was Andy Meyrick in a mightily impressive 5th overall, a long way ahead of the 2nd placed runner in the category, Steven Guerrero (T-Sport) who was 13th overall.
At least this time the cars were actually in the pitlane before the session started, but that led to a mad sprint for the pitlane exit that nearly caused what could have been a very embarrassing accident. It was really horrible out there with conditions that were about as bad as at Monza so it was a bit of a surprise that the cars were sent out. Let's put it this way - it was raining inside the media centre at this point!
As in the morning session Max Chilton (Hitech Racing) was pretty fired up and was quickly to pole, though he was overtaken quite rapidly by Alguersuari, who in turn lost out to Turvey. A lap later Alguersuari was back ahead, just as the red flags came out for the first - and hopefully only - time in this session. Chilton had hit trouble and spun, but was able to get going again. Neither Sam Abay (Carlin Motorsport) nor Walter Grubmuller (Hitech Motorsport) were that lucky, both of them skating into the gravel at Tarzan. With the gravel filling up with cars there was no option but to stop the session. It wasn't improved by the fact that Salman Al Khalifa (T-Sport) was also off there already.
The order after a couple of laps was Alguersuari, from Turvey, Chilton, Meyrick, Atte Mustonen (Double R Racing), championship leader Sergio Perez (T-Sport), Brendon Hartley (Carlin Motorsport), Hohenthal, Nick Tandy (John Tandy Racing) and Grubmuller. 11th at this point was John Martin (Double R Racing), from Alistair Jackson (Ultimate Motorsport), Marcus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport), Michael Devaney (Ultimate Motorsport), Abay, Henry Arundel (Double R Racing), Kristjan Einar (Carlin Motorsport), Steven Guerrero (T-Sport), Stefan Wilson (Fluid Motorsport) and Al Khalifa. In 21st we had Hywel Lloyd (CF Motorsport), followed by Philip Major (Fortec Motorsport), Ricardo Teixeira (Ultimate Motorsport), Craig Reiff (Nexa Racing), Viktor Jensen (Nexa Racing), Jay Bridger (Fluid Motorsport), and Niall Quinn (Team Loctite) who hadn't actually set a time yet.
Once the chaos was sorted out, we got a restart with around 24 minutes left to run. Maybe, just maybe, we could get through without any further stoppages. However, given that the section leading through to Brook (appropriately) was more like the sort of water-splash you get on rallies than something you'd expect to find on a racetrack this was probably just wishful thinking.
Several people were caught out by it, including Tandy who ended up almost back on the banked oval section. Even so there were improvements as soon as everyone settled in again. Turvey went to 2nd while Meyrick was 3rd overall, a long way ahead of his nearest National Class rivals, and then Chilton set a best first sector, which is often a good sign. It certainly was in this case, and just as Mustonen edged up to 5th, Chilton grabbed provisional pole, only to lose it again to Turvey. All of this demoted Meyrick to 4th, while Devaney clawed his way through to 5th. Wilson was next to spin off exiting the water-splash, and while he was extricating himself there was one of those weird moments that suggests reality just got badly skewed. In this case, Quinn suddenly appeared at the top of the times, which no one was ever going to believe, before reappearing in 24th, which was more likely. In the International Class battle Ericsson moved up to 6th, Tandy to 9th, and the Alguersuari nabbed pole, from Hohenthal. Guerrero moved up to 13th overall, while Einar was next to take the long way round after falling foul of the deep water out there. Meanwhile, Meyrick and Mustonen had tangled at Pif Paf and the red flags were back out again, especially as Wilson had gone off separately at Tarzan. They all variously got pushed back onto the track and were able to keep going round to the pits but by then the damage had been done and there were less than four minutes still available in which to set a time.
At the restart Alguersuari was ahead of Hohenthal, Turvey, Chilton, Meyrick (in National Class pole after an impressive performance), Mustonen, Devaney, Ericsson, Tandy and Perez. Hartley was 11th from Jackson, Guerrero, Bridger, Major, Grubmuller, Martin, Teixeira, Wilson and Arundel. In 21st was Einar, from Jensen, Abay, Quinn, Lloyd, Al Khalifa and Reiff.
With the clock still ticking and 3 minutes 48 seconds left, two laps at speed was the most anyone could hope for. Meyrick had done the most laps of the session with 8 and he wasn't going back out. Mustonen wasn't either though he had improved to 6th just before he fell off. There were almost no improvements in this part of the session - with the exception of Martin and Bridger - and it wasn't long before there were yellow flags everywhere again, and there were two cars off at the Oval exit. One was Jensen, who managed to extricate himself quite quickly, but the other - Tandy - was almost on the racing line. Luckily for him there were just a few seconds left now, so the session ran to its close, but it must have been pretty alarming.
As the session ended Alguersuari was still on pole, from Hohenthal, Turvey, Chilton, Meyrick (on National Class pole), Mustonen, Devaney, Ericsson, Tandy and Perez. In 11th was Hartley, ahead of Jackson, Guerrero, Martin, Bridger, Major, Grubmuller, Arundel, Teixeira and Wilson. Einar ended the session 21st, from Jensen, Abay, Quinn, Lloyd, Al Khalifa and Reiff.
Weather: Heavy rain, cold.