Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 4,
Silverstone, Northamptonshire, April 17th/18th
© Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite
Weather: Dry, windy, sunny
It became clear in the morning session that - as is often
the case at Silverstone - it wasn't worth trying to run for
the full 30 minutes, because this week's Avons wouldn't last
that long. There was, therefore, a clear-cut choice. Either
go out straight away and give up the struggle after 20 minutes
or so, or wait and let everyone else rush around for a while
before emerging onto a cleanish track. As a result there was
hardly what could be described as a rush to get out. Both
of the Australians in the Championship Class (Will Power for
Alan Docking Racing and Will Davison for Menu Motorsport)
chose to loiter in the pits, while an early run at the front
was left to the P1 pairing of Ernesto Viso and Adam Carroll
and an impatient Nelson A Piquet (Piquet Sports). Needless
to say they were all rapidly showing pace, with Carroll snatching
provisional pole early on, though he was going to have his
work cut out of he wanted to keep it.
In addition, Lucas di Grassi (Hitech Racing) and his team-mate
Andrew Thompson were both looking far more useful than they
had in the morning session. Upholding Carlin Motorsport's
honour, Danilo Dirani was again very quick, displacing Carroll
for the time being, while Piquet was now 3rd, and James Rossiter
(Fortec Motorsport) was again looking quick. Carroll wasn't
standing for demotion, though, and took pole back from Dirani,
being joined almost immediately on the front row by Viso.
Suddenly it was all happening out there, with Alvaro Parente
(Carlin Motorsport) edging Dirani down even further, and Rossiter
settling in in 4th.
It wasn't long before it was all change, though, with James
Walker (Hitech) looking rather more confident than he had
in the morning, and edging his way into 5th place, just ahead
of Danny Watts (Promatecme F3) in the hideously liveried Lola-Dome.
Still, at least it meant he had some sponsorship, and it didn't
look much worse than Piquet's lilac coloured Dallara. Piquet
himself had slipped right down the order, but was beginning
to wind himself up for a serious run at pole. And then Davison
seemed to feel he had to join in. In the morning things had
really not gone well for him, but that looked as if it was
all about to change. The top men were still Carroll and Viso,
but Dirani was threatening them and Walker was still running
strongly. Davison struggled again to begin with but seemed
to suddenly find his form, leapfrogging from 17th to 12th,
to 7th. Meanwhile, Piquet was playing a waiting game and was
now in the pits for fresh rubber and some wing adjustments.
After a trying morning, Carlin's Clivio Piccione was in better
shape too, moving to 3rd, but there was still a lot of the
session left before he could begin to feel secure. Meanwhile
Fairuz Fauzy (Menu Motorsport) was 4th, which seemed to spur
Davison to greater efforts.
Not wanting to leave it too late, Power finally elected to
emerge from the pit lane and join the fun too, though it took
him a while to find enough clear space to go for it. Meanwhile,
the early front-runners were beginning to run into trouble.
Piquet was 11th and Rossiter was a distant 23rd, and not looking
too good. Had they both started their runs too soon?
Davison clearly hadn't, as was demonstrated when he split
the P1 duo to snatch 2nd from Viso, who was pushed further
back by di Grassi taking 3rd. In the Scholarship Class, Adam
Langley-Kahn (Alan Docking Racing) was ahead of Ryan Lewis
(T-Sport), the latter making a determined effort to do something
By the halfway mark, Power had given everyone something of
a surprise, and was sitting in provisional pole, ahead of
Carroll, di Grassi, Davison, Parente and Fauzy, but it was
still a long way from being over. Carroll went missing shortly
afterwards, which rather wrecked his chances, but Rossiter
seemed to wake up, edging back onto the front row, only to
be shoved back down when Piquet raised the bar and displaced
Power. It was getting interesting out there
di Grassi was back up to 2nd and looking like a threat. And
back in the Scholarship Class Stephen Jelley (Performance
Racing) was struggling in 3rd and wondering what it would
take to demote Lewis and Langley-Khan.
The battle for Championship Class pole was beginning to resolve
itself at last and seemed to have come down to a straight
fight between Dirani and Power, with Power holding the upper
hand. Carroll, and most especially Viso, were left to rue
their early start and wonder if they might have been better
to wait. Carroll was now 3rd but he couldn't do much about
the pair ahead of him, and Viso was clinging to the tail-end
of the top ten in desperation, wondering how it happened.
Possibly unwisely, Power now decided that he had done as much
as he could. The Australian pitted and clambered out, wandering
over to watch the timing screens. And Dirani saw his opportunity
and grabbed it with both hands. There was a moment when it
looked as if it was about to become an all Brazilian front
row, as Piquet banged in one more time on tyres that were
not quite past their best; the result was 3rd place on the
grid, ahead of di Grassi and Rossiter.
There were still a few minutes left, but no one seemed to
have sufficient grip to make use of the available time, and
so the order ended up being Dirani from Power, Piquet, di
Grassi, Rossiter, Carroll, Watts, Davison, Piccione and Parente.
Fauzy was 11th and Viso slipped to 12th and could do nothing
about it. 13th was Thompson, from Karun Chandhok (T-Sport),
Marko Asmer (Hitech) and Walker. In a last minute effort Jelley
snatched Scholarship Class pole from Lewis, with Barton Mawer
(Performance Racing) in 3rd. Langley-Khan couldn't hang on
to his early advantage and was 4th in class, ahead of Lars
Sexton (Planet Racing), Vasilije Calasan (Promatecme F3) and
Ajit Kumar (Mango Racing), the Bollywood star still some way
off the pace, but getting faster by the session.