Kennard Breaks his Duck in Torrential Rain at Spa Jonathan Kennard ( ...
Kennard Breaks his Duck in Torrential Rain at Spa
Jonathan Kennard (#2 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) scored his first British F3 win in a race hit by a torrential downpour and ended under the safety car. Kennard leaves Spa with a 1st and 2nd places plus a new British F3 lap record to his name. Maro Engel (#23 Carlin) was a fighting second ahead of Carlin teammate Sam Bird (#3 Carlin).
Sergio Perez (#31 T Sport) took a another win in the National Class, just missing out on a clean sweep with Frankie Cheng (#39 Performance Racing) taking the point for the fastest lap in second place.
The track was awash after overnight rain, with more rain continuing to fall as the cars formed up on the grid. The decision was taken to start the race behind the safety car and for two laps the 30 drivers played follow-my-leader before the safety car pulled in and racing got underway on lap 3 with Kennard the only driver with a clearer view of the track as the rest of the field disappeared in a cloud of spray kicked up by the Avon wet tyres.
At the end of lap one the status quo remained at the front of the field with Kennard from Engel and Bird as they crossed the line. Behind them Mario Moraes (#4 Carlin) had made up two places to finish lap 3 in 6th, one place of Alberto Valerio (#22 Carlin) who had made up four places on his grid position. Moraes made up another place overtaking Atte Mustonen (#26 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) on the next lap.
Esteban Guerrieri (#14 Ultimate) was another driver to make up places on the opening lap finishing two places up in 11th and then passing Rodolfo Gonzalez (#9 T Sport), when the Venezuelan ran wide at Pouhon, and Niall Breen (#21 Carlin) on successive laps. Salman Al Khalifa (#77 T Sport) and Leo Mansell (#44 Fortec) banged wheels as the Bahraini tried to pass the Fortec Dallara in the slippery conditions. Viktor Jensen's weekend to forget continued as his Dallara was seen circulating with damage, which caused the Icelandic teenager into retirement.
Meanwhile at the front Engel was closing on Kennard and as the leading pair came into the Bus Stop Kennard ran wide in the slippery conditions, regaining the track in front of the German, but struggling to put the power down. Engel closed down on Kennard as the pair braked for La Source. Engel was on the inside and it seemed he had the lead but Kennard took the wider line and was able to get on the gas earlier than Engel and retain his lead. Engel tried to get a tow off the leader on the run into Les Combes but Kennard defended his position.
As the race entered the 7th lap Ricardo Teixeira (#10 Performance Racing) lost control of his Dallara at the bottom of Eau Rouge, spinning across the track and hitting the barriers quite hard. The Angolan walked away unharmed but his car was judged to be in a dangerous position and the Safety Car was deployed. At the same time Esteban Guerrieri's Mygale drifted to a halt at Eau Rouge and into retirement from 9th place.
The Safety Car period lasted until the end of the race and the cars crossed the line in formation, having completed eight laps, but just four at racing speed. Jonathan Kennard was obviously delighted to secure his first ever British F3 victory as he punched the air in delight.
Marko Asmer leaves Spa with a reduced lead in the championship, leading by 60 points from Sam Bird and a further 12 points ahead of Maro Engel.
Sergio Perez finished 15th overall, two places ahead of title rival 'Frankie' Cheng. Perez heads to Silverstone with a 10 points lead over Cheng, with Mike Meadows a distant third despite securing his fifth podium of the season in the race.
Jonathan Kennard: "It was a bit of a weird race, it started behind the safety car which probably not completely necessary I wouldn't have thought. Got a good restart and my first lap was pretty good. I made a mistake into the chicane, which was a bit annoying, and Maro (Engel) caught up. Then the Safety Car came out again and that was it really. I hope this is a turning point, we had a good test at Pembrey before we came here and found a couple of tweeks with the car and hopefully that's what we need to keep this momentum going."