Changes: Alistair Jackson remains at Raikkonen Robertson Racing but is now running in the Championship Class. This means his car is now a Dallara F307 Mercedes-HWA and his number has changed to 27 and he will be running in the Championship...
Alistair Jackson remains at Raikkonen Robertson Racing but is now running in the Championship Class. This means his car is now a Dallara F307 Mercedes-HWA and his number has changed to 27 and he will be running in the Championship Category for the rest of the year.
Stephen Jelley (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) claimed pole at Spa for Round 13 of the British F3 International Series, just edging out Maro Engel (Carlin Motorsport), while series leader Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing) could only qualify 29th after a troubled day in the Ardennes.
The main story of qualifying for Round 13 of the British F3 International Series had played out long before the cars even left the pitlane. Championship leader Asmer crashed heavily in the first of two untimed sessions, and so the team sent him out for the second session in the spare car they happened to have with them. In F3 the use of a spare car is not allowed, and so although the officials allowed Asmer to run in an untimed session using a spare, there was no way he could be allowed to qualify using anything other than the original chassis. There would be protests from all angles if Hitech tried that, so they had no option but to desperately attempt to rebuild the wreckage in time for the late evening session. That meant that for most of the 30 minutes only 29 cars were out there, leaving Carlin Motorsport and Raikkonen Robertson Racing to carve up the top slots between them.
Certainly the Double R lads were keen as ever to get out there, with Jelley leading the charge, followed closely by Atte Mustonen and Jonathan Kennard. Presumably their intent was to try and tow each other round and grab the front row slots that way. The trouble, at least at the start of the session, was that no one had told Sam Bird, the Carlin rookie setting an early pole time, despite never having seen the circuit before. With Asmer sitting on the sidelines, the field was wide open, and another who was showing well, after looking wild in free practice, was Mario Moraes (Carlin Motorsport). He was up in 2nd, with National Class front runner Sergio Perez (T-Sport) just behind him in these early stages.
Mere minutes later and it was all change behind Bird, with Niall Breen, another of Carlin's rookies, proving very effective round this demanding Belgian track. He was just ahead of Jelley, who was holding off Mustonen effectively. Meanwhile, the man who won here last year, Engel, promptly upped the ante and went even faster to grab provisional pole. However, with the times in the morning session as a comparison, it was clear there was more to come, as no one had broken through into the 2 minutes 14 seconds bracket yet.
Oddly enough, Ricardo Teixeira (Performance Racing) was in 12th, a long way up from his normal position, and this despite the distinctly strange lines he'd been taking all morning through the new Bus Stop section, braking heavily right on the apex of the first bend. It seemed odd, but he would remain reasonably placed for the rest of the session. Meanwhile, Frankie Cheng (Performance Racing) was second in the National Class, looking to get on terms with Perez, despite claiming to like Brands Hatch better.
Someone who definitely likes both places would seem to be Rodolfo Gonzalez (T-Sport), who was up in 4th, providing about the only challenge to Carlin and Double R at this stage of the session. Bird, meanwhile, snatched pole back from Engel, who was edged down further by Mustonen, Moraes and Jelley. The German was having none of it; a lap later he broke through the 2.14 barrier to claim provisional pole by almost half a second. The others would need to try harder if they were going to separate him from the top slot.
A little further down the order, in the absence of his team leader, and on a track he already knows, Walter Grubm