Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport) moved into the lead of the British F3 International Series after a dominant victory at Silverstone this afternoon. He was followed home by Marcus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport), while behind the two of them Sam Abay...
Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport) moved into the lead of the British F3 International Series after a dominant victory at Silverstone this afternoon. He was followed home by Marcus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport), while behind the two of them Sam Abay (Carlin Motorsport) and Nick Tandy (John Tandy Racing) slogged it out for third, Tandy claiming the place after a last-lap clash saw Abay end up in the gravel.
In the National Class things were equally fraught with the victory being handed to a somewhat surprised Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing) after Salman Al Khalifa (T-Sport) made a last ditch effort to wrest the lead from Stefan Wilson (Fluid Motorsport) and didn't get it quite right. Wilson's race ended with two laps to go, Al Khalifa ended up third, letting Lloyd and Jay Bridger (Fluid Motorsport) through in the process.
The story really started on the grid though, when pole-sitter Brendon Hartley (Carlin Motorsport) made the most appalling start and just about everything went past him while he tried to get the Dallara off the line. Turvey snatched the lead, while Tandy took a shot at 2nd but lost out to Ericsson, and then to Abay as well. Behind the top four, Sergio Perez (T- Sport) settled into 5th place ahead of Atte Mustonen (Double R Racing) who was holding off Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport). Meanwhile, having finally managed to get moving, Hartley was fighting Max Chilton (Hitech Racing) for a place in the top 10, the pair of them battling their way round Copse. Meanwhile, Wilson was leading the National Class from Lloyd and Al Khalifa.
A lap later and Chilton was trying to pass Martin for 9th while Hartley was still just outside the points. Chilton got by but was immediately re-passed by Martin, all of which gave Hartley some encouragement. Especially as Ericsson was busy setting a series of fastest laps as he set about trying to find a way past Turvey and no matter what Turvey did, that orange car in his mirrors just wouldn't go away. Abay was having a similar problem with Tandy for 3rd and it was looking a lot more interesting than Round 17 had.
The National Class was still being led by Wilson, but Al Khalifa has passed Lloyd and was really flying now, setting the fastest lap of the category as he chased down the world's tallest Yorkshireman (title jointly shared with his brother Justin) in pursuit of his first win. Just for good measure, Bridger also had a go at Lloyd into Copse but then decided that discretion was the better part of valour and opted to stay 4th. Wilson meanwhile was having to work very hard to hold off Al Khalifa, the Bahraini desperate to get a victory this year.
The next change that came was that Hartley found a way past Chilton, which mean he was in the points and Chilton wasn't. He then set about trying to find a way past Martin, the Kiwi undoubtedly mad as hell at having messed up his start and thrown away a chance of victory. Just for good measure, Perez had found his way onto Tandy's tail, though he didn't seem too keen on risking the points he was guaranteed. Tandy's a tough character and there's always a chance you might not come back if you try tangling with him. In retrospect, Perez probably made the correct choice. At the very front Turvey was still pushing hard and his efforts to shake off the Swede he was stuck with led to him now setting a series of fastest laps. The orange thing was still there though, and was clearly glued to the back of the Carlin car. You have to wonder how it is that Ericsson hasn't yet won an F3 race. It can surely only be a matter of time before he is rewarded. He's certainly one of the finds of the season and watching him scrabbling round Beckets to try and catch Turvey was quite a treat.
The real action was further back now, though, as Oliver Oakes (Eurotek Motorsport) split the National Class, getting between Bridger and Lloyd to begin with and allowing Lloyd some breathing space. He then started looking for a way past Lloyd. In the middle of the field there was another battle raging now as Michael Devaney (Ultimate Motorsport) started to build up a queue behind him as Martin caught him up, and Hartley and Chilton joined on the tail end of the train. They were joined shortly afterwards by Walter Grubmuller (Hitech Racing) as well, and by Philip Major (Fortec Racing) all of whom were clearly being held up by the Irishman.
The National Class were also being held up now, in their case by Henry Arundel (Double R Racing). That led to Oakes passing Lloyd, while further back Craig Reiff (Nexa Racing) and Kristjan Einar (Carlin Motorsport) were battling not to be last. The blockage that Arundel was causing was also allowing Al Khalifa to get on terms with Wilson, and he could almost smell victory from there. Meanwhile, in the upper reaches of the field Abay was having terrible trouble with Tandy, but was hanging on for dear life, and Ericsson had again closed up on Turvey and was looking at any opportunity that presented itself. Just for good measure, Mustonen was holding off Alguersuari, while Hartley was looking hard at Martin.
The fight to be last - or rather not to be last - finally resolved itself when Einar and Reiff came across the start/finish line side-by-side - Reiff went through but Einar did his best to hang on. In the end his lack of circuit knowledge proved to be his undoing (he'd not been able to run in free practice on Friday morning so was on a steep learning curve all weekend), and despite staying wheel to wheel down the main straight he had to give way in the end. Elsewhere, Oakes was now between Al Khalifa and Wilson, but didn't look as if he planned on staying there for long, while Ericsson was pushing harder and harder though to no real effect; Turvey wasn't letting go in a hurry.
In 8th Devaney must also have been wondering where that lot in his mirrors had come from - they were running nose to tail now and it would only need a minor mistake for mayhem to break out. To no one's great surprise, Oakes got ahead of the National Class boys altogether, leaving them to fight it out between themselves, and a lap later he'd hacked past Arundel and was in hot pursuit of Ricardo Teixeira (Ultimate Motorsport) and Alistair Jackson (Ultimate Motorsport).
In the closing stages of the race, Tandy tried again but still couldn't get past Abay. If he could hang on it would be Sam's first podium and he was not about to give it up for anyone if he could help it. Of course they were now going to start lapping the backmarkers at this rate, but again the first would at least be Einar, and he would certainly be cooperative if the earlier race was anything to go by. And so it proved, both Einar and Reiff moving out of the way neatly and not hampering the leaders at all. That was just as well as they promptly proved they could get in trouble without any help.
It was probably partly because Arundel was now really hampering the National Class boys, so much so that Al Khalifa tried to snatch the lead from Wilson, which ended up with Wilson off in the scenery at Brooklands and Lloyd and Bridger through in the lead and 2nd respectively. Additionally, Oakes passed Teixeira then had a go at Jackson, which put Jackson out of the race. Then, just to put the icing on the cake, Tandy passed Abay, and Abay, assuming it had happened under yellows, attempted to grab the place back, nerfed Tandy and ended up deep in he gravel on the final lap.
At the front Turvey cruised to his second victory of the weekend and now leads the series chase by 9 points from Perez. Ericsson came in 2nd, ahead of Tandy, Perez, Mustonen, Alguersuari, Martin, Devaney, Hartley and Chilton. 11th was Grubmuller, from Major, Teixeira, Oakes, Arundel, National Class winner Lloyd, Bridger, Clemente de Faria Jr. (Double R Racing), Al Khalifa and Steven Guerrero (T-Sport). In 21st was Jonathan Legris (Litespeed F3), and the last places went to Reiff and Einar.
The fastest laps of the race went to Turvey and Al Khalifa.
Weather: Cool, windy, overcast.
Next Races: Rounds 19 & 20, Bucharest, Romania, 22nd/24th August.