Scholarship Class Qualifying - Round 15: Weather: Cool, sunny, dry. This was another of those race weekends, where the Scholarship Class lads got one race of their own, as did the Championship Class runners. Then everyone was together for the ...
Scholarship Class Qualifying - Round 15:
Weather: Cool, sunny, dry.
This was another of those race weekends, where the Scholarship Class lads got one race of their own, as did the Championship Class runners. Then everyone was together for the second race, the theory being that it meant that everyone got at least one race. Primat would be the exception to that, the Frenchman standing around looking very stiff and uncomfortable as he waited for a second opinion on whether he was fit to race. He wasn't. And that left just 11 drivers to fight for pole position.
Among the likely looking characters was Clivio Piccione (T-Sport), the young Monegasque appearing to be operating on another plane this time out. He had been second overall in testing the day before, and whatever had possessed him then was obviously still in residence. He was on the pace from the minute the green flags were waved, with Robert Dahlgren (Sweeney Racing), Karun Chandhok (T-Sport), Gavin Smith (Meritus Racing), Jesper Carlsen (Essencial Motorsport), Mohammed Fairuz (Fred Goddard Racing), Adam Jones (Team Park) and Stephen Colbert (Meritus Racing) forming a disorderly queue behind him. Adam Carroll (Sweeney Racing) was late arriving at the track after the team didn't bother to make sure he got an alarm call, and so he was nowhere to be seen at this point. When he did arrive (after some enterprising gate guard refused to let him in at first, despite the race suit and helmet) he was understandably livid.
Smith was the first of the pack to make any progress, and Carlsen was trying hard too, but he had to dive into the pits before he could begin to get anywhere. Jones too was trying, though one of his problems was caused by the need to get used to driving a Formula Three car again, after a long stretch without any single-seater time. It certainly wasn't a bad time from Jones. Carroll was now out though, and it would be interesting to see just how fast he could go in the remaining time. Things just were not going at all well for the Sweeney Racing team, with Billy Asaro having difficulties getting into the necessary rhythm. He was in 6th and seemed to be struggling with a car that wasn't prepared to do what he wanted it to.
Meanwhile Colbert had dropped right down the order and was just in front of Justin Sherwood (Performance Racing), who was last and somewhat baffled by his lack of speed. At the front Piccione was still leading the pack by a substantial margin, with Dahlgren, Chandhok, Smith and Carlsen occupying the next four places. Carlsen, though, was in no mood to stay in 5th place if he could do anything about it. He put in a serious effort to go 4th, while Colbert had improved to 9th, pushing the enraged Carroll down to 10th. And then there was a red flag; Chandhok had gone off and was sitting looking very dusty and embarrassed in a gravel trap halfway to Clearways.
The order as the session was halted was Piccione, Dahlgren, Chandhok, Carlsen, Smith, Asaro, Fairuz, Jones, Colbert, Carroll and Sherwood. There would be very little change to that order in what remained of the session. By the time Chandhok had been retrieved, and everyone else had sorted themselves out again the session was three-quarters over. With five minutes left, it was going to be very difficult to get much out of the tyres, largely because at least half of that time would be needed to warm up the tyres enough to get the maximum performance out of them.
Asaro was able to improve his time, but it was not enough to move him up from 6th place. Instead, he was pushed down to 7th when Fairuz improved as well. Two things were now clear. No one could get near Piccione's time, and there really was nothing left to come from the Avons, they were finished. Carlsen joined the ranks of those who improved their time but not their grid positions, and Fairuz also found further improvements but no change in position before the session came to an end.