At soggy Snetterton this morning, we saw the first non-Dallara pole since Danny Watts planted a Lola-Dome on the top spot at Castle Combe on June 20th 2004. This time the man breaking the Dallara stranglehold was Michael Devaney (Ultimate ...
At soggy Snetterton this morning, we saw the first non-Dallara pole since Danny Watts planted a Lola-Dome on the top spot at Castle Combe on June 20th 2004. This time the man breaking the Dallara stranglehold was Michael Devaney (Ultimate Motorsport), the Mygale driver just pipping Nick Tandy (John Tandy Racing) in another Mygale to the position. At the end of another wet session, 3rd on the grid went to Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport), who was marginally quicker than his team-mate in the other Red Bull backed car, Brendon Hartley. In the National Class there was also a slightly surprising result, with Andy Meyrick (Carlin Motorsport) not on pole for the first time in 9 races. Instead, Jay Bridger (Fluid Motorsport) claimed the place, finishing the session 9th overall, three slots ahead of Steven Guerrero (T-Sport), while Stefan Wilson (not Justin Wilson despite what we wrote in our flashback induced fit last time out at Rockingham - sorry Justin!) in the second Fluid entry was 3rd in class.
Anyway the session started wet and soggy and there was drama as the track went live when Hartley stalled and caused a jam in the pitlane. As a result there was a lot of running around in circles before everyone got out there. Almost immediately the usual suspects start to show up at the top of the order and they were joined by Meyrick. Marcus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport) wasn't messing about and slammed it on provisional pole straight away, which might have been a smart move given that there was a red flag almost immediately when one of the Ultimate Cars got stranded on the kerbs at the infamous Bomb Hole which is likely full of water today.
At this point Ericsson was on pole from Atte Mustonen (Double R Racing), Sergio Perez (T-Sport), Steven Guerrero (T-Sport) who was on National Class pole at this point, Alguersuari, Bridger, Alistair Jackson (Ultimate Motorsport), John Martin (Double R Racing), Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport), and Meyrick. 11th was Henry Arundel (Double R Racing), from Sebastian Hohenthal (Fortec Motorsport), Sam Abay (Carlin Motorsport), MacLeod, Philip Major (Fortec Motorsport), Hartley, Salman Al Khalifa (T- Sport) and Walter Grubmuller (Hitech Racing). At this stage no times had been set by Viktor Jensen (Nexa Racing), Max Chilton (Fortec Motorsport), Ricardo Teixeira (Ultimate Motorsport), Devaney, Tandy, Hywel Lloyd (CF Motorsport), Kristjan Einar (Carlin Motorsport) and Williams.
At the restart it seemed likely that it would be all very Scandinavian at the front and very Latin American just behind. However, other people had other ideas. The first to show was Abay who went 2nd and who now seems to be getting the hang of this F3 lark after a relatively gentle start. The Scandinavian theme at the front continued with Ericsson being joined on the front row by Hohenthal, while Mustonen dropped to 4th. Devaney then showed his hand and slotted in to 2nd. The rain briefly eased but then started to pelt down even harder but Ericsson seemed not to have noticed, going even faster, as did Mustonen. That was enough for Ericsson to increase the pace even further as the two of them battled for the top slot, with Devaney, Hohenthal, Martin, Turvey and Bridger scrapping for the next places. Bridger put in a massive effort to go 4th overall only to get pushed back a place by Tandy, while Meyrick was now 2nd in class from Guerrero, the pair of them a long way off Bridger's pace.
Shortly after that Devaney was 2nd, while Tandy grabbed pole from the Scandinavians, breaking into the 1.13 zone. It was all change and some of it was quite unusual, although Alguersuari in 3rd was normal enough. On the other hand Jensen was 11th which was certainly progress for the youngster. Another set of laps and Perez was on the front row, while Guerrero had edged Meyrick out for 2nd in the National Class. A lap later and Devaney was back to pole, from Tandy, Ericsson, Perez and Alguersuari. It wasn't over yet as far as Tandy was concerned though. He got the better of Devaney temporarily, then Alguersuari grabbed 2nd, with Hartley in 5th. Devaney fought back and grabbed pole back, while improvements from Perez (4th) and Turvey (7th) shoved Mustonen back to 8th. The really odd part of this session, though, was the way the Fortec pair of Chilton and Grubmuller was floundering after having been front-runners in testing on Friday. In the same conditions they were both significantly slower than they had been. It defied explanation, with Chilton back in 15th and Grubmuller 20th. It didn't help that Grubmuller and Alguersuari had clashed in the pitlane, though the Spaniard seemed untroubled by it judging by his pace.
With fifteen minutes left, conditions were getting worse. Tandy pitted for adjustments, but there didn't seem to be a lot of point to the exercise. The only improvement in a long time came from Jackson, but he stayed 19th so it was nowhere near enough. There was a spinner at the Bomb Hole but it was impossible to say who, and whoever it was, they managed to get going again. Meanwhile, Alguersuari took to the pits, as did Ericsson. Tandy went out, took a look then came back in, while Jackson improved again but still didn't change position. Only Hartley and Mustonen were lapping close to their earlier times and even they weren't feeling that brave.
Meanwhile, it was possible that the answer to the spinner had been found because the Carlin boys were all over Meyrick's car, and large clumps of grass were being removed from the air intakes. Out on the track, Grubmuller was able to go faster but he stayed 20th, while Major also found some speed but stayed where he was. Hartley, on the other hand, improved to go 4th, while Turvey was back to 7th again, shoving Hohenthal down to 8th. Guerrero improved to go 12th overall but Bridger was still 9th and firmly hanging on to his first National Class pole.
With three minutes left, things might have improved slightly, Certainly Meyrick's demotion to 4th in class when Wilson found more speed suggested as much, as did the progress of Turvey who was now 6th, 0.001 seconds behind of Perez. The last handful of improvements mostly came in the midfield, with Arundel going 13th and Martin also going faster but staying 14th. Jackson improved to claim 18th just behind Wilson. A further reshuffle saw Major grab 13th, while Hohenthal leapt up the order to 5th, and Grubmuller was able to snatch 16th from Chilton, which probably wouldn't be popular with his team-mate. And that was that.
Devaney claimed the first non-Dallara pole in four years, from Tandy, Alguersuari, Hartley, Hohenthal, Perez, Turvey, Ericsson, Bridger and Mustonen. Abay was 11th, ahead of Guerrero, Major, Arundel, Martin, Grubmuller, Chilton, Wilson Jensen and Jackson. 21st was Al Khalifa from Meyrick, Teixeira, Einar, Williams, Macleod and Lloyd.
Weather: Three guesses. Oh, alright then. Wet. Cold.
In the National Class, Callum MacLeod is here in the Litespeed F3 team's SLC R1 chassis. As the driver has no experience to speak of and the team presumably have no useable data, this should be interesting. And at Team Loctite, Niall Quinn has been replaced by Jordan Williams.