Grey. Cold. Qualifying Report: The second F3 qualifying session of the day started out pretty subdued. Bruno Senna (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) was first out of the starting blocks, though Christian Bakkerud (Carlin ...
The second F3 qualifying session of the day started out pretty subdued. Bruno Senna (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) was first out of the starting blocks, though Christian Bakkerud (Carlin Motorsport) was the first driver to record a competitive time. Oliver Jarvis (Carlin Motorsport) was next to show on the leader board, with Maro Engel, also of Carlin, running 3rd at the end of the first timed lap. Needless to say, it wouldn't stay like that. Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing) was 3rd a lap later, while James Walker (Hitech Racing) was the next to claim provisional pole, only to get pushed aside by Mike Conway (Raikkonen Robertson Racing). Further back, Finn Juho Annala (Performance Racing) was on National Class pole, at least for a while.
Conway may have been a little surprised to see Engel get ahead of him on the front row, while Jarvis was just behind him. Salvador Duran (Hitech Racing) was suddenly there too, up in 4th, while Karl Reindler (Alan Docking Racing) was 5th, a lot further up the order than you might have expected. Back in the National Class, Rodolfo Avila (Performance Racing) had claimed the class lead from team-mate Annala, though they were probably both looking over their shoulders and wondering about Rodolfo Gonzalez (T- Sport), because he would want to make up for not getting pole for Round 3.
Bakkerud had slipped to 6th, but was then back at the top seconds later, pushing Conway back to 2nd. However, Jarvis then crossed the line to go fastest. Conway had work to do, and went out to do it. His next lap was 1:03.699, which was enough, at least to be going on with. Dennis Retera (T- Sport), who has the disadvantage of no team-mate, was 8th, which proves he's learning fast despite being handicapped by lack of experience. Engel, who is equally inexperienced, was now 4th, which meant Conway might have had pole, but there was a phalanx of Carlin boys snapping at his heels in the shapes of Jarvis, Bakkerud and Engel. Duran and Walker were 5th and 6th, while Senna and Jelley both set improved times, but were only 8th and 9th. It looked as if someone at Double R had taken a gamble that had turned out to be the wrong choice altogether, for everyone except Conway.
We were nearing the halfway mark and it had all gone a bit quiet, at least as far as improvements were concerned. Stuart Hall (Fortec Motorsport) was able to move up to 5th, while that man Gonzalez was keen to get the National Class pole, having missed out in the morning session. James Jakes (Hitech Racing) was now 9th, while Senna and Jelley both appeared to be struggling badly, the two of them back in 10th and 11th, in Stephen's case with a car that was oversteering unbelievably badly. Someone else oversteering was Ricard Teixeira (Carlin Motorsport), who oversteered right off at Coppice. As he wasn't exactly threatening the established order it didn't have much effect on the grid, but it was part of the pattern that seemed to be establishing itself out there.
With Walker now 7th, the clock had ticked round to the halfway mark. At this point the order was Conway, from Jarvis, Bakkerud, Engel, Duran, Hall, Walker, Reindler, Jakes and Senna. 11th was Jelley, ahead of Retera, Yelmer Buurman (Fortec Motorsport), Alberto Valerio (Cesario F3), Gonzales, Kennard, Avila, Annala, Teixeira and Cristiano Morgado (Fluid Motorsport). Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport) was 21st from Charles Hollings (Fortec Motorsport), Alex Khateeb (Promatecme F3) and Martin Kudzak (Fluid Motorsport).
Unlike in the morning, this time anyone who thought they could relax now the first half was over was about to get a very rude awakening. It started with Buurman pulling an extra something out of the bag to go 8th. Valerio went quicker too, but he didn't improve on 14th. A lap later, Buurman was 6th, while Jakes was again pushing hard and was 10th. Hall wasn't done yet either, as a 5th fastest lap proved. Buurman was there before he could relax though, the Dutchman grabbing 5th. Hall responded, moving ahead of his rival for 4th, displacing Engel into the bargain. Buurman followed that by also pushing Engel down a place. Walker, meanwhile, was also creeping back up the order and was 8th. It was all happening so fast that if you blinked you could miss an improvement. Next was Engel, who shot up to 2nd alongside Conway. While Jakes moved up to 9th, Jarvis put in an impressive lap to kick his team-mate Engel out of 2nd, all of this spurring Conway on to a new fastest lap of 1:03.692. Hall was next to pull another blinder out of the bag, the Englishman claiming 4th temporarily. It also seemed that Jarvis really had the bit between his teeth now. He wanted his first F3 pole, and he was making a truly determined effort to get it. Next time round he had his wish. Bakkerud, in the mean time, had slipped back to 4th, only to have Hall push him even further back, and then that man Buurman also got ahead. There was a weirdly cyclical feel to all this! And a little behind them, Jelley was trying to coax something - anything - out of a set of apparently completely ruined tyres. He was up to 7th, while Senna was still loitering in an unaccustomed 10th. Jakes then went faster and Senna was suddenly out of the top 10. Bakkerud, on the other hand, was back, grabbing 4th only to lose it yet again to Hall and Buurman. It was anyone's guess how this was going to pan out.
Senna seemed to suddenly wake up as well, really pushing in the first sector and ending up 5th, at least for the time being. Conway wasn't finished either, a fact that was rammed home when he did an absolute flyer of a first sector, while Bakkerud was enjoying the sensation of what might have been his first F3 pole. It wasn't to be; a split-second later Conway was there, and looked unlikely to be dislodged again if he could help it. The order was now Conway, from Bakkerud, Jarvis, Walker, Engel, Hall, Senna, Buurman, Jakes and Jelley. However, Jelley was able to find something, despite driving with a front tyre missing a substantial chunk of rubber, and claimed 9th. Walker was still pushing hard too, and a late dash saw him go 2nd, then to pole temporarily, only for Conway to take it away from him. With Duran moving to 6th, it only remained for Jarvis to elbow Bakkerud aside for 3rd just as the chequered flag came out. It had been quite a session, with change all around, and bodes well for an exciting race tomorrow afternoon.
The top ten order at the finish was Conway, Walker, Jarvis, Bakkerud, Engel, Duran, Hall, Senna, Buurman and Jelley. Jakes was 11th, from Kennard and Retera. 14th, and on Class pole, was Gonzalez, from Reindler, Annala, Avila, Valerio, Ihara and Hollings. 21st was Teixeira, from Morgado, Khateeb and Kudzak.