Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 14,
Castle Donington, Leicestershire, June 25th/27th
© Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite
Weather: Cold, wet.
The weather gods were not in the mood to be kind at Donington.
Considering this is meant to be the height of Summer, we really
should be having better conditions for our racing. Instead,
it was cold and wet and horrible again, just like at Combe.
Perhaps unsurprisingly in these conditions, Clivio Piccione
(Carlin Motorsport) was an early pace setter, but then he
tends to be when fingertip precision is called for, rather
than out and out aggression. His team-mate, Danilo Dirani
was another to show signs of speed, while pole position man
from round 13, Adam Carroll (P1 Motorsport) was looking like
a shadow of his former self, suffering from what turned out
to be a slow puncture. However, to begin with that wasn't
obvious and by the time the team realised what was happening,
it was rather too late to remedy the situation.
Nelson A Piquet (Piquet Sports) was looking much better than
he has of late, and was fastest in the first sector before
grabbing an early pole. However, he had it taken off him by
Andrew Thompson (Hitech Racing), which was a surprise to everyone,
probably including Andrew. James Rossiter (Fortec Motorsport),
on the other hand, was still finding it hard to get up to
speed, and was only 5th, while Piccione had slipped a little
to 4th. With around a third of the session gone, Piquet put
in a flying lap to claim pole from Dirani, and Marko Asmer
(Hitech Racing). They got displaced when Thompson came back
at them to take 2nd. Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport) was
now 8th, and looking a bit slow, whereas Rossiter had recovered
from his somewhat tardy start and was now fastest. Oddly enough,
despite the fact that the track was apparently no drier than
it had been at the start, conditions had to be improving because
most people were getting steadily faster and faster, to the
point where Asmer again snuck up to the top of the table to
take provisional pole.
Fairuz Fauzy (Menu Motorsport) was another in the top ten,
at least to begin with, though after that he was mostly in
the gravel. He wasn't the only one, Piccione taking a short
cut across the chicane at Fogarty's. While they were messing
about, Parente was beginning to improve and was up to 6th,
while Rossiter took pole back from Asmer, while Piquet improved
to go 3rd. James Walker (Hitech Racing) was also busy proving
that his Round 13 form was no flash in the pan and was up
to 8th instead of his usual lowly position. Ryan Lewis (T-Sport)
on the other hand, was busy trying to prove that Stephen Jelley's
pole position for Performance Racing in Round 13 was a flash
in the pan. To do that, he'd taken hid usual Scholarship Class
pole and wasn't about to give it back.
Carroll had slipped down the order to 10th, and was still
on the slippery slope to nowhere in particular with the deflating
tyre to blame, while Will Power (Alan Docking Racing) didn't
appear to be in very good shape either, for a man who was
hoping to get closer to the top of the points table at Donington.
With just over half the session still to go, he was only 9th,
which would mean a lot of work to get near the front.
Rossiter managed to squeeze a little more out of his tyres
to improve his pole position time, though he lost out almost
immediately to Piquet, with Piccione, Thompson, Asmer, Parente,
Dirani, Lucas di Grassi (Hitech Racing), Carroll and Power
rounding out the top ten. In 11th, and looking much more convincing
than he did initially this year was Marcus Marshall (Fortec
Racing), following in 12th by Karun Chandhok (T-Sport) who
didn't aid his cause any when he went off at Redgate.
At the front it was all change again when Piccione went quickest
again, pushing Rossiter out again, and then having to watch
while Piquet again set off on a charge. Rossiter immediately
pitted for some setting changes, while most people just stayed
out, assuming - perhaps correctly - that the times would continue
to come down as the track finally started to dry. And as that
started to happen, Asmer again went quickest, while Fauzy
took the first of a pair of trips through the Redgate gravel,
for no readily apparent reason. The order was now Asmer, from
Thompson, which gave us an all Hitech front row, with Piccione
and di Grassi in 3rd and 4th, ahead of Rossiter, Piquet, Parente,
Dirani, Chandhok and Lewis.
Carroll, meanwhile, was down to 13th now, and had finally
given up the struggle with his unbalanced car, bringing it
in to the pits to try and find out what was wrong with it.
Another one spending time in the pit lane was Danny Watts
(Promatecme F3), and while he wasn't as far off the pace as
Carroll, the Lola-Dome driver didn't look at al like a man
who was on the top step of the podium only 6 days previously.
While both of them re-emerged eventually, time was running
out. While all this was going on at the back, Piquet was making
a fresh run for pole, and was now fastest, though he didn't
get to keep it for long. Piccione was revelling in these conditions,
and was soon on pole again, though Parente seemed ready to
challenge him too. Seemed as if you needed to have a surname
beginning with P to be at the front this time round. While
the Portuguese moved into 2nd place, Fauzy was off in the
Redgate gravel again, and then he took a look at the kitty
litter at Fogarty's too, deciding that he liked the look of
that corner; in any event that was where he stayed.
There were four minutes of the session left when Parente again
improved, taking pole, while Piccione slotted into 2nd from
Piquet, but then Piquet improved, pushing Piccione back to
3rd. And then, with only a couple of minutes left, the session
was brought to a premature halt with another of those annoying
red flags. And so Parente had his first pole position of the
season, just beating Piquet to it. Piccione would have to
settle for 3rd, ahead of Asmer and di Grassi.
In 6th was Thompson, from Rossiter, Walker, Chandhok and Dirani.
Power was an unexpectedly lowly 11th, while Watts was only
just ahead of Scholarship Class pole position man Lewis. Marshall
was next up from Fauzy and Carroll. 2nd in the Scholarship
Class was Jelley, while Ronayne O'Mahony (Performance Racing)
and Vasilije Calasan (Promatecme F3) brought up the rear.