With a delayed race start, any question about which tyres to use was quickly settled. The heavens had opened, and by the time the cars left the pitlane it was obvious that wet weather tyres were the only way to go. Mike Conway (Raikkonen ...
With a delayed race start, any question about which tyres to use was quickly settled. The heavens had opened, and by the time the cars left the pitlane it was obvious that wet weather tyres were the only way to go.
Mike Conway (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) started from pole, though he seemed to hesitate at the start. That left him open to attack from Bruno Senna, his team-mate doing his best to claim the lead into Redgate. Conway fought back and Senna settled in behind him, with Maro Engel (Carlin Motorsport) in 3rd. the rookie showing no hesitation in the treacherous conditions.
A lap later and Conway was still leading from Senna, who again tried to sidle up the inside at Redgate, and again got the door shut in his face. Conway has enough experience not to be caught out by that trick. In the National Class, Rodolfo Gonzalez (T-Sport) was leading by an enormous margin, having made probably the only wheelspin-free start of anyone out there. Poleman Rodolfo Avila (Performance Racing) on the other hand, made the most awful start. He wasn't surprised, but he was disappointed, finding the huge amount of wheelspin he had to endure was too much to deal with. By the time he'd sorted himself out, he was 5th in class, and not at all happy about it. At the front, Conway and Senna seemed to have the top two places to themselves, while Engel was holding off James Walker (Hitech Racing), who was just ahead of the 3rd Raikkonen Robertson Racing car of Stephen Jelley. Salvador Duran (Hitech Racing) was 6th, with Oliver Jarvis (Carlin Motorsport) all over the back of him. Yelmer Buurman was 8th, with the last two points-scoring positions currently occupied by Jonathan Kennard (Alan Docking Racing) and Christian Bakkerud (Carlin Motorsport).
Walker was determined to pass Engel, but the German was defending his position impressively, obviously not at all unnerved by conditions. Some of the other rookies weren't doing so well. Dennis Retera (T-Sport) got himself into a bit of a tangle coming through the Chicane, but was able to sort it out and continue with the learning process. Meanwhile, Senna was dropping back a little, possibly just to re-orient himself after spending some time as the epicentre of a large ball of spray. After all, it helps to be able to see! There was a lot of spray, and the result was a fairly stationery order for quite a while. Eventually someone made a move. Surprisingly, that someone was Jarvis, who dived past Duran to claim 6th place. The youngster seems to be taking to F3 with some enthusiasm, and has quickly settled in as one of the front-runners, and without any doubt a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year.
Conway was pressing on regardless in the lead now; a fastest lap was his as they reappeared and crossed the line. The tyres were starting to come in now, and pretty much everyone was going faster, except Duran who was now bottled up behind Jarvis and trying to find ways of getting that place back. He would soon realise that that was not an option. Jarvis broke away and was now in pursuit of Jelley, who was busy trying to ignore what anyone else was doing and concentrate on his own race. That race suddenly became more urgent when Conway came a cropper at Redgate. A piece of debris picked up at Goddards left him unable to turn in, and so Senna was the delighted recipient of the lead. Conway was able to continue, but by the time he'd scrabbled his way out of the gravel he was behind Buurman, who wasn't about to let the erstwhile leader back through, whatever he tried. That put Engel into 2nd with Walker 3rd, Jelley 4th and Jarvis 5th. Duran was 6th, ahead of Buurman.
Back in the National Class, Gonzalez was 6 places ahead of 2nd placed man, Juho Annala (Performance Racing), who was about to lose a place to Cristiano Morgado (Fluid Motorsport). The Performance team were not exactly having the best of days.
In the leading group, Senna was pulling out a gap, while Engel tried everything he could think of to keep Walker at bay. Jelley was busy with Jarvis, his efforts to stay ahead netting him a fastest lap of the race.
Walker finally made his move on Engel, who tried to defend, couldn't hold the Hitech driver, and then lost it completely at the Old Hairpin, spearing off into the tyres and out of the race. It's been quite a learning curve for the young German so far. That let Jelley up into 3rd, and led to an anxious few laps for him as Jarvis kept trying to nose alongside, not necessarily because he believed he could get through, but to see if he could just maybe provoke a mistake that he could profit from. It wasn't about to happen if Jelley had anything to do with it. They both looked as if they were enjoying themselves.
Alex Khateeb (Promatecme F3), on the other hand, appeared to have no enthusiasm at all for the conditions. He pulled into the pits from last, complaining that the handling of his Dallara didn't feel right.Chris Weller didn't seem particularly impressed by his driver's attitude.
Jelley, on the other hand, was showing a great deal of enthusiasm, and his attempt to rid himself of Jarvis saw him right on Walker's tail. However, as Walker had so far scored no points this season, Jelley decided discretion was the better part of valour, and that he'd be better off staying right where he was. He'd also just set a new fastest lap time, which seemed to wake Walker up. The Hitech driver started to pull away again as the rain intensified. As it turned out, one of the potential overtaking places was suddenly out of bounds anyway, with an outbreak of yellow flags. Annala had made a small mistake with big consequences, and was now deep in the Redgate gravel, handing a podium place to a slightly surprised Ricardo Teixeira. The Finn was deeply disappointed by what he regarded as his own stupidity, and wouldn't take any consolation from the fact that he wasn't the only one to fall foul of the conditions.
The leaders were having a bit of bother too as the race moved into the closing stages. Keiko Ihara (Carlin Motorsport) was being lapped, and wasn't making it easy for them. Senna got through without too much trouble, but Walker, Jelley and Jarvis had a bit more difficulty, Jarvis in particular as the third in the train nearly found himself nudged off by his own team-mate. It wouldn't have been impressive, especially with Trevor Carlin watching from the pits. Once that was over with, the race continued as a high-speed procession, with Senna too far ahead to be challenged, and Walker having to watch his mirrors for Jelley and Jarvis.
While the spectators shivered on the banking, and the leaders continued on their way, Avila got it spectacularly sideways at the chicane, and Alberto Valerio's Cesario Formula Dallara finally cried enough out on the track. And that was it. Three races out of three have gone to Senna, while in the National Class, Gonzalez also completed a hat-trick of wins. He only needs two more victories to be the proud owner of a new set of overalls, team boss Russell Eacott having promised him a new suit once he has won five races. It looks like he might get his new suit next time out at Pau. Certainly no one else has been able to get near him so far.
Senna was delighted with his win, heading home Walker, Jelley, Jarvis, Buurman, Duran, Conway, Kennard, Bakkerud and Stuart Hall (Fortec Motorsport). 11th was Retera, from James Jakes (Hitech Racing). Gonzalez was 13th overall, winning the Championship class, with Charlie Hollings (Fortec Motorsport) caught between him and Morgado. 16th overall was Championship Class runner Karl Reindler (Alan Docking Racing), with Teixeira 3rd in class. Avila was 18th overall (4th in class) ahead of Martin Kudzak (Fluid Motorsport) and the lapped Japanese, Ihara.
Fastest laps went to Jelley and Gonzalez.