Jelley Scores Maiden Win in Thruxton Thriller Stephen Jelley ( ...
Jelley Scores Maiden Win in Thruxton Thriller
Stephen Jelley (#1 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) finally got to climb on to the top step of the British F3 podium with a convincing win at Thruxton in Round 17 of the 2007 Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series. The Leicestershire driver won from 5th on the grid, overtaking Jonathan Kennard (#2 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) at the restart after a short Safety Car period to recover the cars of Sam Bird and Atte Mustonen. Maro Engel (#23 Carlin) drove through from 15th on the grid to finish on the podium.
Sergio Perez (#31 TSport) took his 11th National Class win ahead of Hamad Al Fardan (#38 Performance Racing) and Michael Meadows (#55 Newnet Raikkonen Robertson Racing).
Sebastian Hohenthal (#5 Fortec) lined up on pole position, ahead of Atte Mustonen (#26 Raikkonen Robertson Racing but it was third placed Niall Breen (#21 Carlin) who got the jump on the Finn at the start, sweeping past the number 26 Dallara on the second corner. The Irish driver then set off after the leading Fortec Dallara.
Further back Marko Asmer made a good start from his unaccustomed 9th on the grid to end the opening lap in 6th, briefly holding 5th until Jonathan Kennard regained the place at the Chicane.
Fourth placed Sam Bird (#3 Carlin) was challenging Mustonen for his podium position but in turn he had Kennard and Stephen Jelley, who had passed Asmer on lap 2, challenging his position.
Niall Breen was all over the back of Hohenthal's Dallara as they completed lap 2 but on the next lap disaster struck as the two cars touched, spinning both off the track, Hohethal into retirement and Breen down the order and out of contention.
This put Sam Bird into the lead after Mustonen had lost ground to end the 3rd lap in fourth place. Bird had Kennard right behind him as Jelley held of the recovering Mustonen. Bird held on until lap 6 when Kennard had a look on the inside at Church Corner and the Spa winner moved into the lead. However the Carlin driver wasn't going to give in easily and the two cars were side-by-side in the Chicane on lap 7 but Kennard held his nerve and his leading position.
Meanwhile the battle for 3rd was just as hot, with Mustonen looking for a way past Jelley as almost every corner, but the Finn finally got past on the 8th lap and was soon on terms with Sam Bird.
Further back Maro Engel (#23 Carlin) was on the move. The German had qualified back in 15th place after a torrid time in qualifying but found the race trim of his Mercedes powered Dallara more to his liking. After a good start he made steady progress towards the front of the grid and by lap 8 he was up to 7th and challenging Esteban Guerrieri's Mygale for track position. However both drivers were promoted two places as another two front runners came to grief.
Sam Bird challenged Kennard for the lead into the Chicane at the end of the 10th lap but once again Kennard was able to fend off the Carlin driver and this allowed Mustonen to close up on Bird and overtake on lap 11. Once again Bird fought back and challenged the Finn into the Chicane but there was a coming together as the two cars entered the Chicane, spinning both into the barriers and into retirement. The two Dallaras were judged to be in a dangerous place and the Safety Car was deployed to allow the recovery of the cars, bunching up the field but not before Engel managed to pass Guerrieri and close up on Rodolfo Gonzalez in the T Sport Dallara who was now in third.
As the Safety Car headed for the pits Jelley closed up behind Kennard and as the race recommenced he pounced, taking the lead into the Complex. Engel also made a move on Gonzalez at the same place, pushing the Venezuelan onto the grass, which lost Gonzalez four more places before the end of the lap.
Jelley started to pull away from Kennard as Engel now tried to wrest second place away from the driver from Kent. Kennard once again defended well to hold his position and allowing Engel to come under pressure in turn from Guerrieri.
However as the chequered flag approached Jelley had opened up a big enough breathing space to enjoy the feeling of taking his first ever win in British F3 and he punched the air in delight as the Raikkonen Robertson Racing team lined the pitwall to welcome him home for a Double R 1-2. Engel came home in third, a brilliant performance from 15th.
However the drama wasn't done yet. Michael Devaney (#15 Ultimate) was fending off the recovering Rodolfo Gonzalez, with Greg Mansell (#50 Fortec) also wanting to accumulate as many points as possible from a very lowly 18th starting position. As the three cars entered the chicane for the final time they were side-by-side and Gonzalez had to cut across the Chicane and came across the line in front of Mansell and Devaney. However Gonzalez was later demoted one place as he was judged to have gained the place by cutting the Chicane.
In the National Class Sergio Perez took his 11th win with apparent ease after an early battle with 'Frankie' Cheng. At the end of the race the Chinese driver found himself battling with Hamad Al Fardan and Mike Meadows and on the final lap Al Fardan and Meadows managed to pass Cheng to claim the two other podium finishes at the chequered flag.