© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas
Weather: Changeable, cloudy.
Race Report – Round 2 (Race 2): At Oulton Park this afternoon the 20-minute Sprint Race was won by Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport) but not before eventual National Class winner Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport) led for the majority of the first half of the race. In the end Pietro Fantin (Carlin) was 2nd ahead of Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin), the latter now moving into the lead of the series. However, none of this was achieved without a very exciting race that included a Safety Car period and a final single lap dash for the line at the end.
Before the start Fahmi Ilyas (Fortec Motorsport) was already out of contention, the Malaysian being pushed away to the pits as the remaining 13 cars filed round on their formation lap. With Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing) on pole under the reverse grid conditions, it was always going to be interesting at the start. Padayachee is desperately short of experience and in a 3-old car the National Class competitor couldn’t be expected to hold off the International Class chargers behind him. Goddard, who started from 2nd, has clearly not received the memo however. “Spike” made a clean getaway and despite predictions was in the lead after Old Hall. Padayachee, on the other hand, started to fall down the order before they got to the first corner. A lap later and Goddard was still leading! Behind him Nick McBride (ThreeBond with T-Sport) was unable to find a way past despite being in a newer car, partly because Goddard wasn’t about to let him through (and quite right too – it’s never been the job of the driver in front to let the one behind through), and partly because Derani was all over McBride for the class lead.
In the melee behind Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport) was now up to 6th but then he dropped it on the grass and had to recover, thus giving Harry Tincknell some breathing space. Padayachee had plummeted back to 11th which meant most of the International Class boys were past and clear, including Jack Harvey (Carlin) who set a new fastest lap in his efforts to climb up the order. While the supposedly faster runners bunched up behind McBride, Goddard was pulling away and had managed to get 0.7 seconds ahead, which was pretty impressive actually. McBride was still 2nd from Derani, and Fantin, while Tincknell was 5th, holding off Lynn, Jaafar, Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin), Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport) and Harvey. Padayachee was 11th ahead of Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport), Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing) and Ilyas. As they became ever more bunched up Tincknell has a go at snatching 3rd from Fantin, got it slightly wrong, and almost lost out to Jaafar as a consequence. Derani, meanwhile, tried to make a move for the class lead but once again McBride rebuffed him. And at the front Goddard continued to lead, pushing to stay ahead for as long as possible though no doubt knowing it was all going to be taken from him sooner of later. As it was it took the men behind 5 laps to get past and they only managed it then because the Australian ran wide, which let McBride and Derani through and after that it was all over for him. However, he’d proved a point.
McBride then threw away all the advantage he’d gained when he ended up on the grass and lost a lot of ground. That put Derani ahead with Fantin 2nd just ahead of Jaafar, Tincknell, Goddard, Lynn, Sainz Jr, Harvey, Serralles and van Asseldonk. Uhrhane was 11th, from Ilyas, McBride and Padayachee. It didn’t take long before Jaafar was all over Derani now but that challenge evaporated when in the pack Lynn made contact with someone, and the Fortec car came to a halt with damaged suspension right on the racing line. The officials had no choice but to put the Safety Car out while the stricken Dallara was removed. As it picked up the leaders it became clear that it would be some time before they could resume racing so Derani had to be patient and wait for the restart to try and claim his first ever F3 victory. Fantin was still 2nd, from Jaafar, Tincknell, Sainz Jr, Harvey, Serralles, van Asseldonk, Goddard, Ilyas, Uhrhane, McBride and Padayachee.
The SC boards were finally withdrawn with just over a minute left on the clock which meant a one-lap dash for the line. Derani’s nerve held and he controlled the restart beautifully while behind him Jaafar had another go at Fantin, only for the Brazilian to maintain a defensive line to hand onto 2nd. In fact that was the last bit of excitement apart from Ilyas, who managed to fall off halfway round and thus didn’t actually finish the race. A delighted Derani thus won his first race after a year of trying, with Fantin holding Jaafar off to the line. 4th was Tincknell, from Sainz Jr, Harvey, Serralles, van Asseldonk, Goddard, and Uhrhane. McBride was 11th from Padayachee.
Fastest laps were set by Derani and Goddard.