Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas, BF3 correspondents
On a rain-lashed Monza this morning Felix Serralles (Fortec) took an impressive victory, perhaps proving he has inherited some of his father’s powerboat driving abilities. He was chased down in the closing stages of the race by Jack Harvey (Carlin) after the latter celebrated his birthday with a brave overtaking move round the outside at the Ascari Curves to demote the ball of spray that turned out to be Nick McBride (T-Sport) from 2nd. 3rd finally went the way of another Carlin driver, Pietro Fantin, after he too passed McBride in a very similar move. The National Class was gifted to a delighted Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing) after series leader Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport) crashed out of the class lead 4 laps from the end.
At the start the officials wisely decided that a start from behind the Safety Car would be the best course of action. Unfortunately it was too late for one of the 14 drivers sliding their way round to the grid. Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport) had sustained damage on his way from the pits and had to dive back in for rapid but ultimately futile – repair work to the rear end.
Eventually the race got underway (despite several resets of the clock) and Serralles led the field round for a couple of laps, with Fahmi Ilyas (Double R Racing) behind him, then McBride, Harvey, Fantin, Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport), Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin), Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport), Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin), Goddard, Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing), Padayachee and Harry Tincknell (Carlin).
The Safety Car finally pulled in after two laps (or possibly three – don’t ask), possibly because it was far too wet for him! Serralles controlled the start nicely, while Ilyas bottled the rest of the pack up. He had McBride and Harvey both looking for a way past within a corner or two and it was only the fact that they were also fighting each other that prevented them finding a way past the Malaysian straight away. Harvey lunged at McBride several times but couldn’t make it stick, not helped by the fact that he was unable to see a thing in the spray from the Australian’s wheels. For several corners the Carlin driver tried everything he could think of, pulling it off in an audacious move at Ascari, all the while hoping McBride wouldn’t lock up and take both of them out. He didn’t and the Englishman was able to set off in pursuit of a somewhat distant Serralles now that Ilyas had slipped right back after an excursion up the Chicane. He wasn’t the only one; Serralles briefly cut it as well but he was so far ahead it didn’t cost him much at all.
Further back Tincknell was gaining ground having started dead last and was now 10th, but the real battle was for 2nd with Fantin on the back of the Harvey/McBride battle and now setting about McBride in his own right. Tincknell was soon up to 9th past the floundering Ilyas, while in the middle of the pack Jaafar was holding off Lynn and Derani for 5th while in 4th Fantin was bouncing all over the kerbs in an effort to find a way past McBride. He obviously really wanted to get up to 3rd and McBride equally didn’t want to let him. He tried to go round the outside but McBride was having any of it and resisted staunchly. Unfortunately he then ended up sliding up the Chicane escape road and letting Fantin through with four laps to go. Just for good measure there were yellow flags out in the Ascari curves where Goddard had slipped into the barriers and out of the race, handing the National Class victory to Padayachee, provided he could survive the remaining distance intact. That was much of the excitement at the front over with though Lynn and Derani would remain on Jaafar’s tail to the end of the race, the pair of them managing to clash on the slowing down lap, leading to them being under investigation after the race. Meanwhile, Serralles came round to take the chequered flag almost 4 seconds ahead of Harvey, although a lap earlier it had been much closer. Fantin was 3rd from McBride, Jaafar, Lynn, Derani, Sainz Jr, Tincknell and Ilyas. Uhrhane ended up 11th; his weekend not improving much and Padayachee was last despite taking the National Class win.
Fastest laps were set by Serralles and Padayachee.
Weather: Utterly sodden!