Scholarship Class Race Report - Round 15: Weather: Sunny, dry. It was a very small field that lined up to start the stand-alone Scholarship Class race, Round 15 of this year's British F3 series. However, the lack of quantity in no way implies a...
Scholarship Class Race Report - Round 15:
Weather: Sunny, dry.
It was a very small field that lined up to start the stand-alone Scholarship Class race, Round 15 of this year's British F3 series. However, the lack of quantity in no way implies a lack of quality and what followed was probably rather more exciting than some drivers would have liked. As the lights went green, the usual Brands Hatch pole position disadvantage became apparent when Clivio Piccione (T-Sport) failed to capitalise on his pace in qualifying and bogged down at the start. As a result Robert Dahlgren (Sweeney Racing) was able to snatch the lead by driving around the outside of the teenager. Seeing his opportunity, Jesper Carlsen (Essencial Motorsport) made ready to follow, but as the 11 cars tore up the hill to Druids hairpin Karun Chandhok (T-Sport) appeared out of nowhere and squeezed the Dane out. Jesper was able to continue, but he lost ground, while Adam Jones (Team Park) tripped over Chandhok, thus putting an end to the race for both of them. That left 9 drivers, among whom was Mohammed Fairuz (Fred Goddard Racing), who suddenly found his Dallara handling badly, largely because half its rear wing was missing. In the aftermath of the chaos, Carlsen was being pressured heavily by Gavin Smith (Meritus Racing), Smith eventually getting by when Carlsen went wide at Graham Hill Bend, and ended up on the grass. He wasn't having the best of mornings! Nor was Fairuz, the Malaysian having to dive into the pits for a replacement rear wing. He came out a lap later just in front of the leaders, which was probably not the best place to be, considering what was happening at the front.
Piccione was trying all sorts to get past Dahlgren. The trouble was none of it seemed to work. Even so, he wasn't going to let Dahlgren get away with this if there was anything he could do to stop the Swede in his tracks. The two of them passed Fairuz without a change in position, and that left the Malaysian ahead of the rest of the pack, who were glued together to make what looked not unlike a 20-wheeled Dallara. Smith was holding off Billy Asaro (Sweeney Racing), who was fully occupied watching his mirrors for Stephen Colbert (Meritus Racing). In turn Colbert was being harassed by Adam Carroll (Sweeney Racing), who was trying to get back to where he thinks he should always be, at the front. Carlsen was behind Carroll, trying to recover from his appalling first lap, and Justin Sherwood (Performance Racing) was sitting back a little waiting to see if it would all go wrong and he could inherit 3rd place. He might just get lucky the way the other five were fighting for places.
While Piccione was still trying to get round Dahlgren, Asaro tried a series of moves on Smith, first trying to get up the inside, then trying the outside. As the door was shut firmly in Asaro's face, Colbert had to lift to avoid him and got it all sideways. Carroll saw his opportunity and was through and onto Asaro's rear wing. Now the Canadian really had problems, with Carroll all over him. It didn't discourage him from trying to get past Smith though, and he made repeated attempts to grab 3rd from the Meritus driver, only to have to back off at the last second.
While Piccione again tried (and again failed) to out-brake Dahlgren into Paddock Hill Bend, Asaro had another go at Smith, while Carlsen tried to squeeze Colbert out of the way and failed. With five laps to go Piccione was now almost under Dahlgren's wing, but he still couldn't get past. Asaro was having rather more luck in his pursuit of Smith, finally managing to make an overtaking manoeuvre stick to claim the final podium position. That left Smith to try and deal with Carroll. The Sweeney driver had a go around the outside at Paddock Hill Bend, but had to back off, then a lap later he made an attempt at Druids. Again he couldn't quite make it stick. Finally, on the last lap of the race, Carroll gathered himself together for one last try, and as they crossed the line to take the chequered flag, Smith just couldn't hold Carroll off any longer. Smith was demoted to 5th, just ahead of his teammate Colbert, who had kept Carlsen at bay.