Rivals hoping to close the gap on Piquet Rounds 19 and 20 of the Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship take place at Thruxton in Hampshire this weekend (August 29/30). Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr extended his lead in the championship...
Rivals hoping to close the gap on Piquet
Rounds 19 and 20 of the Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship take place at Thruxton in Hampshire this weekend (August 29/30). Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr extended his lead in the championship after a win and a fourth place at Silverstone earlier this month. Meanwhile, Ryan Lewis is just 14 points away from clinching the Scholarship Class from Stephen Jelley.
Briton James Rossiter will be looking to close the 48-point gap on Piquet over the two races around the ultra-quick Hampshire venue. The Fortec Motorsport driver has tasted victory twice this season and has been one of only two drivers to consistently challenge the Brazilian. He took second to Piquet in the first race at Silverstone, but was caught out by a wrong tyre choice in the second race and had to settle for seventh.
Rossiter's team-mate, Australian Marcus Marshall stunned the F3 grid by snatching victory in the second Silverstone race, gambling on the track drying and staying on slicks for the whole race. A superb call meant he picked up his first F3 race win and showed some of the more experienced racers the way home.
Adam Carroll suffered even more than Rossiter at the Grand Prix venue. Fifth place in the first race was a poor result by the P1 Motorsport drivers' standards. However, he was also caught out by the track conditions and made a choice to change to slick tyres late in the race. A single point for fastest lap was his only consolation, meaning he dropped three points behind Rossiter to third in the points in the process.
These two will both be challenging for the top step of the podium and neither will want to give an inch as the championship heads towards its conclusion. There are just six races left and a consistent display by Piquet so far this season has paid off. Just two non-finishes and a string of good points finishes, including four wins, has left him in control.
Clivio Piccione lies fourth in the championship, but he is 49 points behind Carroll. Alvaro Parente and double race winner Danilo Dirani are just behind him, both on 109 points. Will Power is currently seventh, just ahead of Danny Watts who has taken the fight to the front of the Championship Class in the Lola-Dome chassis. The Lola took victory at Castle Combe earlier in the season and the high-speed Thruxton circuit might just be another place where Watts can put one over on the rest of the Dallara field.
Lucas Di Grassi is just behind the Promatecme F3 run driver. The Brazilian and Australian Power are the only two in the top nine of the championship yet to win a race and they will surely want to prove themselves before the end of the year. Could Thruxton and the British weather play into their hands this weekend?
In the Scholarship Class Ryan Lewis only needs to score another 14 points to claim the 2004 title. The T-Sport driver has already taken 12 race wins so far this year but he will be at a slight disadvantage this weekend as he has never raced at the track before.
Stephen Jelley is his only rival capable of stopping Lewis and he has a tall order over the next three meetings. He failed to finish the first race at Silverstone but took fourth in race two. With Lewis failing to take the chequered flag it gave him a last chance to stop him walking away with the championship. He will have to gamble on one of the other Scholarship runners to finish ahead of Lewis, or for the leader to trip up during the course of the weekend.
Vasilije Calasan took a double race victory at Silverstone as Jelley and Lewis tripped over each other. The Frenchman is now full of confidence and could well spring a surprise on the two ahead of him.