Weather: Hot, sunny, dry.
At Snetterton today the battle for the British F3 title really started to hot up with Jack Harvey (Carlin) staking a claim to pole positions for Race 1 and Race 3 ahead of current championship leader Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport) for Race 1 and Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin) for Race 3. 3rd for both races will be Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport). The National Class poles are shared between Pedro Pablo Calbimonte (T-Sport) and Adderly Fong (C F Racing).
At the start of the session it was the Carlin team that led the way and it didn’t take long for Harvey to claim an early provisional pole, but the Fortec Motorsport boys were strong from the start too. Ownership of pole was disputed throughout the session and was in no way a foregone conclusion until the very end of the session.
After Harvey, it was Harry Tincknell’s turn, but he wasn’t the only one pushing hard for the front. Sainz Jr was clearly keen to capitalise on his newly-returned form after Spa, and was the next to hit the front. He was rapidly replaced by Serralles, and for a few brief moments Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing) was also in the top three.
Next up was Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport) who briefly showed in 2nd, while Calbimonte was fastest of the National Class runners, at least at this stage. The pole for the older cars would change hands frequently throughout the session, so the Bolivian was on pole and then off again almost before he knew what was happening.
However, at the front it was Harvey and Tincknell taking the fight to the rest of the pack, and they both improved to take the front row, at least for a while. Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) was also on a charge in the early stages but Harvey was not having that, team-mate or no team-mate. He edged back ahead and was promptly joined by Lynn on the front row, while in the pack Nick McBride (ThreeBond with T-Sport) was looking more convincing than he has all season with a time that moved him up the order to 9th, the fastest of the Australians now.
It was shortly after that, while Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing) made his bid for National Class pole, that it became increasingly clear that the tyres were now going off dramatically. Sainz Jr was on a charge, but despite an excellent first sector from the Spaniard there was nothing left in the rubber and he ended up staying 5th, at the same time that Tincknell again slotted in to 2nd and Fong raised the National Class bar.
At the halfway stage pretty much everyone was in for fresh tyres, apart from Uhrhane (who was now back up to 9th) and Serralles who leapt back up the order to 5th from 9th before he too pitted. At this point Harvey was still ahead of the game, from Tincknell, Lynn, Jaafar, Serralles, Sainz Jr, Pietro Fantin (Carlin), van Asseldonk and Uhrhane. 11th was now McBride, then Fahmi Ilyas (Double R Racing), Fong, Calbimonte, Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport) and Padayachee.
And then, despite the increasing heat, they all headed back out – with the track turning the tyres sticky it was some time before there was anything that could be described as progress though. The first improvement eventually came from Jaafar who managed to find some speed from somewhere to go 2nd.
Derani was the next to find a turn of extra speed though it was only enough for 7th. A lap later though and he was up to 3rd. Tincknell went faster but stayed 2nd, while Padayachee spun but recovered, although he dropped to last as a result.
Van Asseldonk was the next improver, though again he stayed where he was, which in his case meant 8th. A massive push from Sainz Jr hauled the youngster up the order onto the front row, though it wasn’t quite enough for pole. Serralles was also on the move which put him in 5th and then 4th overall having displaced Lynn.
A lap later and it was Calbimonte who was leading the National Class while Lynn fought back for 3rd. Derani found some time to go 7th and Sainz Jr stayed 2nd despite his best efforts while Serralles improved for 4th.
The National Class battle wasn’t over yet either. Padayachee was making up for time lost with his spin and was now fastest in class, but Calbimonte took it back again, and then Fong went even faster.
Apart from a further improvement from Serralles that was pretty much it. At the flag it was Harvey, from Sainz Jr, Lynn, Serralles, Tincknell, Jaafar, Derani, Fantin, van Asseldonk and Uhrhane. Ilyas would start Race 3 from 11th ahead of McBride, Fong, Calbimonte, Padayachee and Goddard.
For Race 1, Harvey also has pole, from Serralles, Lynn, Jaafar, Sainz Jr, Tincknell, Derani, Fantin, van Asseldonk and Ilyas. Uhrhane is 11th, from McBride, Calbimonte, Fong, Padayachee and Goddard.