The weather had taken a turn for the colder by the time we got to the second British F3 International Series race of the Easter weekend. After a less than gentle start to the season, we were already down a competitor, as James Walker (Hitech...
The weather had taken a turn for the colder by the time we got to the second British F3 International Series race of the Easter weekend. After a less than gentle start to the season, we were already down a competitor, as James Walker (Hitech Racing) would not take the start. His car was too badly damaged to run after a huge off in the morning's race. Everyone else was present and correct however, and so the race duly started.
Bruno Senna (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) made another cracking start, as did Christian Bakkerud (Carlin Motorsport), the Dane almost getting thr drop on Senna from a row behind. Not wanting to be left behind, Oliver Jarvis )Carlin Motorsport) attempted to follow his team-mate through, only to find himself blocked by poleman Mike Conway (Raikkonen Robertson Racing), who made a dreadful start with more wheelspin than forward motion, and found himself 3rd as a result.
Further back, Juho Annala (Performance Racing), who started 2nd in the National Class, made an even worse start than Conway, bogging down so badly that by the time he moved everyone else had gone. He was left to struggle along in the wake of Ricardo Teixeira (Carlin Motorsport) for lap after lap as he tried to undo the damage. Most eyes were on the front of course. There, Senna was getting away as he'd tried to in the first race. That left Bakkerud holding off Conway, Jarvis and Engel. Someone who should have been further up the order was Stephen Jelley, in the third of the Raikkonen Robertson Racing cars. After a great run in the morning race, it all went wrong by the time he reached Old Hall. Yelmer Buurman (Fortec Racing) got onto the grass verge and ended up pushing Jelley completely onto the grass. Which was very damp and slippery. By the time Jelley was able to wrestle the car back onto the track he'd lost a good half dozen places and was stuck behind Dennis Retera (T-Sport). Retera wasn't about to let the Englishman pass easily, which left Jelley wondering what exactly the Dutch had against him (both Retera and Buurman are Dutch).
While his team-mate was having trouble with the men from the Netherlands, Conway was trying to get the better of a troublesome Dane. He launched a challenge at Knickerbrook, but the trouble was Bakkerud wasn't having any of it. Conway also wasn't being helped by the fact that Jarvis and Engel were still all over him and not showing any sign of backing off any time soon.
All of this was again playing into Senna's hands, and he was able to set the fastest lap of the race with no interference from anyone else. As Senna coasted away into what looked like an unassailable lead, Bakkerud, Conway, Jarvis and Engel continued to run in close formation, with Stuart Hall (Fortec Motorsport) and Salvador Duran (Hitech Racing) battling over 6th place. In 8th overall was Rodolfo Gonzalez (T-Sport), while behind him Alberto Valerio (Cesario F3), Charlie Hollings (Fortec Motorsport), Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing) and the recovering Buurman fought over the last few points.
The battle for 2nd was still going on. Conway was still on Bakkerud's tail, and he wouldn't let go. Unhelpfully from the Dane's point of view, Jarvis and Engel dropped right back and seemed more interested in scrapping with each other instead of helping Bakkerud hold his place. Still, he seemed to be doing pretty well on his own, even when Conway tried again round the back of the circuit. He was spending all his time attacking which meant that Bakkerud was busy defending and looking in his mirrors. Of course Senna simply pulled away and was still setting repeated fastest laps.
With a third of the race distance gone, Senna was coming up to lap Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport) and everyone was wondering if she would realise Senna was there and let him through without problems. She did, but that of course meant that she now had Bakkerud and Conway bearing down on her as they raced into Lodge. There were other battles going on throughout the field of course, with Kennard, Buurman and Jakes now sticking together as if they were glued at the nose and wing. A little further back Jelley was scrabbling round trying to find a way past Retera, who was blocking any way he could think of. And behind them Annala was still bringing up the almost rear and was on Teixeira's tail though he seemed unable to find a way past and was probably still kicking himself for his start.
Back to the front though, things were really hotting up. Conway had yet another go at Bakkerud as they lapped Ihara when he attempted to go round the outside. Once again he was blocked, and now Jarvis was gaining ground on both of them again too. It was nail-biting stuff. Engel had finally dropped back a little and now had his hands full holding off Hall. Duran and Valerio were still locked in battle. It was anybody's guess how all this would turn out. While Jarvis had a very sideways moment at Knickerbrook, several of the midfield men gained a couple of places when Jakes ran into Kennard's rear end, launching himself in a semi-flying lesson. Kennard wandered round to the pits, the car sounding very rough, and just for good measure Duran also fell right back down the order, his season not exactly getting off to the greatest start.
Senna continued serenely on his way to his second victory, and was now 5 seconds ahead of the pack. Bakkerud couldn't catch him, but he was now able to relax a little as Conway dropped back a little. The action for 2nd place was liable to restart at any moment, but right now it was all happening further down the order. Valerio was catching Hall, but it looked as if there was too little of the race left. For Buurman, however, his recovery continued when he passed Hollings into Cascades on lap 13, claiming 8th in class in the process.
A lap later Senna was almost seconds ahead of the field, while Bakkerud was back to holding off Conway. The pressure was considerable but the Dane was refusing to oblige the Englishman by cracking up. It was his 2nd place and he planned on keeping it as long as possible. While Senna set yet another fastest lap, Conway made one last lunge at Bakkerud round at Knickerbrook and had the door slammed in his face one last time. He had no choice but to settle for 3rd.
By the time the chequered flag fell, Senna was leading by over 7 seconds, while Bakkerud was a delighted 2nd. Conway was 3rd from Jarvis, Engel, Hall, Valerio, National Class winner Gonzalez, Buurman, Hollings, and Jelley (who took the last point when he passed Retera with a lap to go). 12th (11th in class) was Retera, from Morgado, Kudzak, Avila, Annala (who passed Teixeira at the last gasp), Teixeira, Duran and Ihara.
The extra points for fastest lap went to Senna and Gonzalez.