Weather: fine, sunny. Knockhill is a very difficult circuit when it comes to starts. The undulating nature of the track means that it's very difficult to get a good start unless you're on the first row of the grid, simply because you are going...
Weather: fine, sunny.
Knockhill is a very difficult circuit when it comes to starts. The undulating nature of the track means that it's very difficult to get a good start unless you're on the first row of the grid, simply because you are going to have to get away uphill. Pole position points downhill, which gives you a tremendous advantage at the start. The man with the advantage this time round was Ernesto Viso (P1), and he wasn't about to waste the opportunity he'd spent Saturday morning fighting for. But first he had to wait an unusually long time as the rest of the drivers were finally ushered to their places on the grid, there being too few marshals to make this an easy task.
Once everyone was lined up correctly, and the lights finally turned green, Viso didn't hesitate, and nor did Will Power (Alan Docking Racing). If the Venezuelan was going to try and get away, the Australian was going with him, whatever it took. James Rossiter made a good start too and had a go at Power, but Power shut the door firmly in the Englishman's face. There's no love lost between the two of them after Croft, so perhaps it shouldn't have been that much of a surprise. Further done the order Adam Carroll (P1 Motorsport) was another who made a good start, while Will Davison (Menu Motorsport) saw a gap between the two rows of cars and tried to go for it. The result of the Davo's fit of bravery was "1 or 2 very exciting seconds," before his race came to a premature end in the gravel at Duffus, taking James Walker (Hitech Racing) with him. Just for good measure, Clivio Piccione (Carlin Motorsport) passed Lucas di Grassi (Hitech Racing) at the Hairpin, and then his team-mate Andrew Thompson, clipped him, sending di Grassi into a spin. By the time di Grassi had recovered he was in last place. Piccione, meanwhile, got away Scot free. It had certainly been an incident-packed first lap!
As they crossed the start/finish line for the first time, Visa was already leading comfortably from Power, Rossiter, Carroll, Piccione, Karun Chandhok (T-Sport), Danilo Dirani (Carlin Motorsport), Thompson and Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport). Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing) was just outside the top 10, with Nelson A Piquet (Piquet Sports) right on his tail. The unfortunate di Grassi was, of course, last. In the Scholarship Class you can probably guess what was happening. Yes, of course. Ryan Lewis (T-Sport) was leading from Stephen Jelley (Performance Racing) and Barton Mawer, also of Performance. So no surprises there at all.
As if that wasn't enough excitement to be going on with, Jelley took a lunge at Lewis, which did neither of them any good at all. Jelley hung on for a while before pitting, while Lewis dragged his car round and into the pits to have the suspension looked at, before wandering back out again for a brief, abortive lap. This effectively gave the class lead to Mawer, who took it gratefully.
And then things settled down at last. Viso began to steadily draw away from Power, while Rossiter had to fend off Carroll, at least until the latter found himself being harassed by Piccione. Meanwhile, something of a scrum was developing behind Thompson, Piquet in particular making repeated attempts to pass Asmer, that particular battle lasting a fair number of laps as the Brazilian repeatedly tried to shove the Estonian out of his way! He was aided in his attack on Asmer by the fact that the two Hitech drivers (Thompson and Asmer) were going at each other in a very aggressive fashion considering they're supposed to be in the same team, though it also made overtaking difficult because if he got Asmer, he'd still have to deal with Thompson. To complicate matters further, by lap 9 most of the field was about to have to try and lap Ajit Kumar (Mango Racing). Now Kumar is always polite about being lapped, but the Knockhill is a very tight track and the Bollywood star was short of places to go to get out of the way. He did his best, even so.
At the back of the field, Fairuz Fauzy (Menu Motorsport) was trying to work his way forwards, after failing to set a competitive time in qualifying when he crashed out two laps in. He'd managed to survive the Scholarship Class battle and was now closing on Marcus Marshall (Fortec Motorsport). Coming out of the Hairpin on lap 15, Fauzy prepared to attack. He powered past the Australian on the main straight in a very aggressive move, the first sign of fire the Malaysian has shown all season.
At the front, Viso was still motoring steadily onwards, and no one looked likely to stop him. With 5 laps left he was in a comfortable - though not particularly commanding lead - with Power still in 2nd, from Rossiter. There was a gap to Carroll, who still had Piccione on his tail, though the latter was now having trouble with Chandhok, who now quite likes Knockhill after all. He was being followed by Dirani and Parente, while behind them Thompson, Asmer and Piquet were still scrapping for positions.
With four laps left to run, Piquet had another go at Asmer, nudging the Estonian into a spin at the Hairpin. Asmer recovered well though, and was able to get going again without too much loss of time, and the loss of only one place, to Fauzy. Asmer wasn't too upset about it afterwards, sportingly remarking that "that's racing". That left Piquet free to attack Thompson, which he duly did, though the Scot wasn't about to give way to anyone on his home circuit, not with 100 or so guests in tow too. Despite his determination to hold the Brazilian teenager off, Thompson had a nasty moment or two before the flag, the worst one coming a lap from the end. Attempting to lap Vasilije Calasan (Promatecme F3), the Scot was forced wide and came close to letting Piquet through. And apart from the fact that Viso's engine failed at the very end of the race, that was it. All over bar the shouting (actually that was Round 8.)
Viso came home to a comfortable victory (and became the 5th driver to win a race this season), ahead of Power and Rossiter. 4th was Carroll, who had wrestled his car all the way home, while Piccione claimed 5th place. Chandhok was pleased with the progress that 6th place represented, while in 7th Dirani didn't look like the same driver who had been so dominant at Croft two weeks ago. Parente was 8th, from Thompson, and Piquet claimed the last point, keeping Fauzy out despite the fact that the Malaysian found a way past Asmer in the closing stages, while Marshall was the penultimate Championship Class competitor to cross the line, only di Grassi finishing further back after spinning out early on. In the Scholarship Class, Mawer won again, which makes a change from Lewis, while Khan and Calasan claimed the other two podium spots. The only other finished in the class was Kumar, who was two laps down at the end.
The fastest laps in their classes - and thus an extra point each - went to Rossiter and Mawer.
By: Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite