The session got under way on time, but on a track that was now coated in oil and dirt after the Grand Prix Masters practice session, the old guys having made something of a mess of the track during their interminable session as the engines...
The session got under way on time, but on a track that was now coated in oil and dirt after the Grand Prix Masters practice session, the old guys having made something of a mess of the track during their interminable session as the engines variously seemed to be in a state of imminent collapse.
Anyway, first man out was Yelmer Buurman (Fortec Motorsport), the Dutchman keen to make up for his dismal morning performance. James Jakes (Hitech Racing) was out there too, pushing hard, at least in the early stages. He wasn't the only one. However, after the morning session it was clear that tyre wear was an issue, the compound Avon had used for this meeting proving to be extremely short-lived. In addition, anyone trying an early high speed lap was hampered by the fact that there were waved yellows after Alex Khateeb (Promatecme F3) fell into the gravel traps and got stuck. Some drivers were not taking any chances and they were quickly in to get new rubber and try and set a time while they could. Salvador Duran (Hitech Racing) was amongst those who were in a hurry to get on with the job, the Mexican nipping into the pits after he'd completed his first lap. Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing) and Juho Annala (Performance Racing) did the same. That left the way fairly clear for the likes of Christian Bakkerud (Carlin Motorsport), who got an early shot at pole. He also hadn't had a good morning, though things were finally looking better for the perpetually unlucky Dane. He'd set a 1:43.104 which was slower than this morning's pole, so it might not last, but he'd take what he could get. Meanwhile, the National Class was being led by Cristiano Morgado, who was 4th overall. It was all a bit odd at this point frankly.
Bakkerud had now been joined by Oliver Jarvis (Carlin Motorsport), who was now 2nd. The session seemed to be both slower in getting off the mark, and generally slower over all. However, there was a sudden rash of changes round the halfway mark. James Walker (Hitech Racing) was now 4th ahead of Buurman, while Bakkerud and Jarvis held onto the front row. Mario Moraes (Carlin Motorsport) was up in 9th, which considering he was in a National Class car (but running as an Invitation Class runner) was pretty impressive.
The session continued to be faintly odd, though it got a bit more normal when Stephen Jelley (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) went up the order to 4th place. Bruno Senna, Jelley's team-mate, was only 15th at this stage, but the other Raikkonen Robertson Racing driver, Mike Conway, was now in play, dislodging Bakkerud from pole. Morgado was still un the top ten, in 8th, and looked good for a National Class pole for a change. It was likely that Rodolfo Gonzalez (T-Sport) might have something to say about it, but that had not yet happened. In fact Gonzalez was 17th (and 3rd In class, with Rodolfo Avila (Performance Racing) ahead of him, 13th overall.
One of the other odd things was that Maro Engel (Carlin Motorsport) was apparently badly adrift at this point, along with Senna. It was worth keeping an eye on them to see what they might do. What Senna promptly did was leap-frog to 5th, while Jarvis overtook Bakkerud for 2nd. Engel, on the other hand, was only able to improve to 12th. There were improvements also from Buurman and from Duran, the former claiming 6th only for the Mexican to take it off him seconds later. Engel put in a further effort to claim 8th, but that was the last truly significant change and there was still half of the session left.
The tyres seemed to be holding up rather better than they had in the morning, but there still wasn't much life left in them. With half the session still to go, the order was Conway, from Jarvis, Bakkerud, Senna, Jelley, Duran, Buurman, Engel, Walker and Jakes. Morgado was now just outside the top ten, in 11th, but still leading his class, while Moraes headed up Avila, Stuart Hall (T-Sport), Martin Kudzak (Fluid Motorsport), Basil Shaaban (Comtec F3), Khateeb, Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport), Gonzalez and Kennard. Ricardo Teixeira (Performance Racing) was 21st, Juho Annala (Performance Racing), Karl Reindler (Alan Docking Racing) and Alberto Valerio (Cesario F3).
That all changed when Reindler went to 11th. Gonzalez now moved up to 14th overall, which put him 2nd in class, ahead of Annala. Meanwhile an infuriated Senna was in the pits, waving his arms about and complaining about yellow flags. He'd given up on the session, and so it turned out had Conway and Jelley. There was no more to be got from the tyres, and there was no point in continuing to flog round to no effect, wearing out your rubber before the race. Another lap and Gonzalez was on National Class pole, with Morgado one place behind him, and Moraes just behind the pair of them. Meanwhile, Kennard had also found some speed from somewhere and had shot up from almost last to 7th, with less than 10 minutes left of the session.
The top 5 were now all in the pits, and there was a general drift in that direction. Buurman, however, went back out after swapping tyres from left to right. The last real improvements came from Jakes, who moved to 11th, and Valerio, who'd also been almost last, who came up the order to claim 13th. He was now where he normally is at races. Kennard managed another lap time improvement before he too gave up, having failed to progress as a result. That left Buurman and a couple of others, but he wasn't getting anywhere it seemed. And after that it went very quiet out there.
The order was now Conway, Jarvis, Bakkerud, Senna, Jelley, Duran, Kennard, Buurman, Engel and Walker. Jakes was 11th, and still actually running, ahead of Reindler, Valerio, Hall, Gonzalez, Morgado, Moraes, Annala and Shaaban. Kudzak, the other driver still running at the end, was 21st, followed by Khateeb, Ihara and Teixeira.