After all the earlier excitement it came as something of a relief when Round 14 was far calmer. Even so, there was more than enough action to go round, especially in the National Class. As in Round 13 there were things happening even before...
After all the earlier excitement it came as something of a relief when Round 14 was far calmer. Even so, there was more than enough action to go round, especially in the National Class. As in Round 13 there were things happening even before the start, as the Hitech Racing boys could be seen dragging Marko Asmer's car back down the pitlane and pushing it into retirement with a gearbox failure. He was not amused, having got no further than the first corner in the earlier race. Also as in Round 13 the mayhem began seconds after the race started, when Ryan Lewis (T-Sport) ran into the rear of Charlie Kimball's Carlin Motorsport car, losing places himself, and starting a chain reaction that they both survived, but that saw Mike Conway (Fortec Motorsport) and Tim Bridgman (Hitech Racing) tangle, though they too would live to fight another lap. By some miracle, despite Stephen Jelley (Menu Motorsport) and Ronayne O'Mahony (Fortec Motorsport) having gravely moments as well, the only real casualty was Daniel Clarke (Double R Racing) who was stuck in a gravel trap when the dust cleared, knocking Carlin Motorsport's Christian Bakkerud's front wing out of alignment - he was able to keep going but the handling wasn't exactly normal any longer...
And where was Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport) in all this? At the front. He'd got the drop on his team-mate Kimball again and was in the lead, having seen an opportunity that was too good to pass up. Meanwhile, Danilo Dirani (P1 Motorsport) was 4th, but was also locked into the start of a battle with Conway that would keep him occupied all the way to the flag, while also having to try and hold off James Walker (Fortec Motorsport), who had despatched Lewis easily. Lewis, in fact, seemed to be in trouble, and lost quite a bit of ground, though he was able to arrest his slide down the order, falling into the clutches of a very determined James Walker (Fortec Motorsport) as a result. In addition, Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport) had sustained damage and was in the pits having a new nose fitted to her Dallara. So the first lap was quieter than Round 13, but still decidedly lively, it's fair to say.
At the front Parente and Kimball were already beginning to break away again, though this time Bridgman seemed to have the pace to go with them even if he was not able to get on terms with them. Ben Clucas (Fluid Motorsport) was leading the National Class, and was also able to put space between himself and the rest of the mob, the battle for second in class becoming very fierce as the race wore on. It probably didn't help that, after his little off, Jelley was caught up with them, stuck in the middle of a battle that had nothing to do with him. Charlie Hollings (Promatecme F3) decided to have a go at getting past Barton Mawer (T-Sport), got it slightly wrong and crashed out, thus letting Jelley get through; for good measure he got past Mawer as well. It also left Mawer with an example of the apparently fashionable skewed front wings for his trouble, and might have contributed to the Australian's eventual fate. The battle not to be last was also fierce again, with Cheong Lou Meng (Edenbridge Racing), Nick Jones (Team SWR) and Ricardo Teixeira (Carlin Motorsport) locked together until Cheong spun off on lap 3 leaving the other two to get on with their race.
Meanwhile, in the Championship Class Lewis and Walker were having a robust scrap for 6th place, Lewis eventually being unable to hold Walker off any longer. After that Lewis found he had Bruno Senna (Double R Racing) to contend with, the Brazilian in very determined mood and having one of his best runs of the season so far. Certainly he was very keen to get past Lewis, trying round the outside and up the inside, everything but underneath it seemed. They both gained a place when Walker went by, the engine sounding very far from normal. It was no surprise to see him coast into the pits a lap later, and watch the team swarm over the car, removing the engine cover immediately he stopped.
Meanwhile, Steven Kane (Promatecme F3) was having to pick his way through the battling pack of National Class runners, while they continued with their own private battle. He got through, leaving Josh Fisher (Team SWR), Salvador Duran (P1 Motorsport), Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing) and Adam Khan (Performance Racing) to swap places with a frequency that baffled the eye on occasions. Once they got rid of O'Mahony too they were really free to battle it out. Teixeira, on the other hand, decided not to play any longer, pirouetting gracefully off into the gravel where he dug in up to the rear axle trying to get enough grip to drive back out.
At the front Bridgman could no longer live with the pace of the two Carlin drivers, Parente continuing on his way undisturbed by anything or any one. Kimball couldn't get close enough to get a tow, and had to settle for what looked like a guaranteed second place. That left Bridgman losing ground and falling back into the clutches of Dirani and Conway. While they were closing in on 3rd place, the National Class battle for 3rd turned into a battle for 2nd, when Mawer lost it at the Parabolica and smacked into the wall very hard indeed. That promoted Duran to 2nd, which was a very good place to be. If he could just hang onto it, it would improve his chances of catching up with Mawer in the National Class standings. However, he had three men behind him who didn't want to give him an easy ride.
Someone else not having an easy ride was Bakkerud. The Dane now had the recovering O'Mahony all over him, and he'd brought Karl Reindler (Alan Docking Racing) along for the ride. Despite not having much of a front wing left any more, Bakkerud held them off as long as he could. Unfortunately he couldn't quite manage it and on the final lap of the race they both went through, dumping the Dane out of the points for the first time this season. As the only driver to have scored points in every single race so far, Christian was disappointed at having his run spoiled, but really there was nothing he could have done, and in fact he'd done a sterling job holding his position as long as he had. Meanwhile, Bridgman's 3rd place assault was coming off the rails, big time. Both Dirani and Conway really wanted that place, and on the last but one lap Dirani got enough of a tow to be able to attempt to get ahead. As he slithered alongside, Bridgman took to the grass to try and hang onto his position. Dirani wasn't about to give up, and the two of them were side-by-side through the next section, again getting all their wheels on the grass. The stewards took a dim view of Bridgman's actions, as opposed to Dirani's, as he had no choice in the matter. The result was instant disqualification for Bridgman, who had thus far scored no points at all at Monza (and only two in total this season). Dirani was pleased to inherit 3rd place, and even more pleased to find that the Lola is finally on the pace once more, after a frankly dismal season, brightened only by his successes at the first meeting of the year.
3rd place in the National Class was also the subject of some dispute still; on the last lap, Khan passed Fisher by going right across the white line and using the Tarmac between the pit wall and the circuit. He was so far over the timing beam didn't register his transponder. Afterwards, and incensed Fisher was sure the place was his, and he was sent to the podium. He wasn't the only one incensed about it. Khan was furious too, because he knew it was his. Eventually, the stewards decided that he was actually 3rd, and Fisher returned the cup, cap and champagne bottle to Khan. The pair shook hands and agreed to forget about it.
And so, Parente claimed his second victory of the day, ahead of Kimball, who wasn't too unhappy at another second place. Parente's version of the race was simple: "This time, I did another good start and was in front after the first chicane. My car felt a bit better with the circuit being cooler and I was quicker and could pull out a gap. Charlie lost the tow I was giving him, so I could pull away and control the race. I'm on pole for tomorrow - it would be nice to get three wins."
For Kimball, the plan had been simple too: "We had the same game plan as for the first race, as it nearly worked then, but on about the 5th or 6th lap I made a big mistake on downshifting at the first chicane, and Alvaro was able to get a gap of about a second and a half, and that was it. I could get back a tenth or two, but most of the time we were doing the same speed. We were driving away from the people behind us, but could not close up. I'm disappointed not to have had a chance to fight for the win, but I'll take the 15 points for second which will help a lot in the Championship standings."
Dirani hung onto 3rd from Conway, with Lewis 5th despite Senna's attentions. 7th was Jelley, from Kane, while National Class winner Clucas was 9th overall. 9th in class was O'Mahony, ahead of Karl Reindler (Alan Docking Racing). Just out of the points was Bakkerud, while the Invitation Class winner was Alejandro Nunez (HBR Motorsport). Duran was 2nd in the National Class, from Khan, Fisher and Kennard, while 18th went to Christopher Wassermann (HBR Motorsport). 19th was Juho Annala (Alan Docking Racing), a long way in front of Jones. The last runner was Ihara.
The extra points for fastest laps went to Parente and Clucas.