2012 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series
Round 26, Silverstone Arena GP, Northamptonshire, September 8th/9th 2012
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas
Weather: Hot, dry, sunny.
Race Report – Round 26 (Race 3):
At Silverstone this afternoon Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport) finally got that elusive first F3 win of his career and was actually allowed to keep it. In 2nd was Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) from team-mate Harry Tincknell (Carlin). Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport) won the National Class again.
Before the race started there was something of a reshuffle of the grid as Jack Harvey (Carlin) was awarded a five-grid place penalty for changing direction too often in the earlier sprint race, which added to the misery of a 30-second penalty for causing an avoidable collision, to add to an earlier penalty for a jump start in the first race of the weekend.
At the start, Lynn made a clean start this time (he too was penalised for jumping the start in Saturday’s race) but it didn’t help him as much as it might have done with Jaafar getting a better start to nip through into the lead at Copse. Just for good measure Tincknell and Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin) also passed the erstwhile pole man leaving him in a somewhat unhappy 4th place before the race was a lap old.
That put Jaafar in a very good position as regards the 2012 title chase, especially as the only two other contenders who could still take the championship, Jack Harvey (Carlin) and Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport) were down in 6th and 8th respectively. Making the most of his excellent getaway Jaafar started to pull out a gap in order to give himself the best possible chance of defending his position if necessary. And it would be necessary if Lynn had anything to do with it.
As Jaafar set a new fastest lap of the race, Lynn was starting to recover and was closing on Sainz Jr. Meanwhile Serralles was busy trying to find a way past Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport) while Lynn was now through to 3rd and setting about Tincknell. At Brooklands he got his opportunity, squeezing through into 2nd. A new fastest lap was soon his as he set about trying to close the massive gap to Jaafar.
In their wake, van Asseldonk was now battling with Sainz Jr. and was very close to the young Spaniard’s tail and getting ever closer until he was almost underneath the Carlin car. Further back Goddard was leading the National Class by a good margin from Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing), the latter seeming oddly subdued today.
Subdued was not a word you would have associated with Lynn, as he continued to close on Jaafar, the latter’s lead being eaten away steadily now. A massive lockup from the leader cost him some time, and enable to Lynn to edge even nearer and now the battle was really on.
It wasn’t the only scuffle for points. Sainz was still holding off van Asseldonk for 4th and now they had Serralles with them too. Additionally Fantin had Harvey shadowing him for 7th and Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport) had the battling Aussie duo of Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing) and Nick McBride (ThreeBond with T-Sport) with him, the Australians locked into their third fight to the finish of the weekend.
It was hard to know where to look really. Lynn was still catching the leader hand over fist, but Serralles ran wide, bounced across the kerbs, and lost two places as result, as Fantin and Harvey shot through the briefly open door. While the Puerto Rican was cursing his mistake, and Pedro Pablo Calbimonte (T-Sport) was being warned about exceeding the track limits, Lynn was getting closer than ever and Harvey was now having to fend off a maddened Serralles for 7th. Derani was also still tussling with the Aussies, just as Lynn took a look to see if he could get past Jaafar for the lead. He couldn’t; he wasn’t quite close enough.
And then there was an actual change, when van Asseldonk came from a long way back to steal 4th from a surprised Sainz Jr. in the Loop section of the circuit. Serralles, meanwhile, attempted to pass Harvey, but the Carlin driver defended by chopping across the bows of the Fortec. Serralles backed off temporarily, by which time Svendsen-Cook was catching the pair of them, so intense was the battle.
In the middle of all this the officials were issuing track limits warnings to all and sundry, to the point where it might have been easier to just put out a blanket warning and penalise everyone. Harvey was one, as was Derani, as he continued to work to keep the Australians, Uhrhane and McBride behind him.
The battle for the lead was still in full swing but it was nowhere near as ferocious as the one for 7th place. Serralles again launched an attack on Harvey, trying to go round the outside at Copse but Harvey again pushed him wide and Serralles dropped back into place again. Although Lynn and Sainz Jr. were the latest drivers to be warned about the track limits, it didn’t stop Lynn continuing to loom large in Jaafar’s mirrors.
Further up, van Asseldonk was now closing on Tincknell and clearly wanted that place as well. Given half an opportunity he was obviously going to go for it. Just as obviously, Harry was having none of that, thank you very much! As they fought for positions, Serralles was on Harvey’s case again and sizing him up for a pass. It happened this time as they went into Copse again, with Felix again trying to go round the outside at Copse and once again he was beaten off by Harvey. Svendsen-Cook was right with them now too which was making life tougher for Serralles than clear track behind him would have done.
The fight for 10th finally resolved itself when Uhrhane found a way past Derani and then simply drove away from him, leaving McBride to continue trying to force a mistake from the Brazilian. Just to make life tougher for Derani, Goddard was now joining in as well, so he was back to being harassed by two Australians yet again. He could possibly be forgiven for wondering what he’d done to vex the Antipodeans.
As the race began to move into the closing stages, van Asseldonk had another go at snatching Tincknell’s place to no avail while Harvey pulled out a slight gap over Serralles again. A lap later and van Asseldonk tried to drive around the outside of Tincknell as they headed towards Copse, while slightly behind them Serralles did the same to Harvey. Neither move worked, although Serralles tried again as they reached the Wellington Straight. Harvey again resisted, pushing Serralles onto the grass. Once the Puerto Rican was there, he hit a bump and his car was launched. The landing was less than smooth although he was able to keep going and didn’t lose any places.
When they battling duo came round to cross the start finish line with two laps to go, Serralles could be seen gesturing fiercely at Harvey. He was clearly not at all happy. Nor was Jaafar now, as Lynn got right on his gearbox as they charged into Brooklands and then dived through to claim the lead under braking. Wisely, Jaafar chose not to make a fight of it, preferring to come home in second and regain the point lead with one more meeting left.
That could have been the end of it, especially as Serralles was now being threatened by Svendsen-Cook, but the Puerto Rican is nothing if not grimly determined when the mood takes him. A true racer, he still hadn’t given up and with one lap left to run he slipped by Harvey at Copse, claiming 7th and pushing Harvey down to 3rd in the title battle. Afterwards, when the adrenaline had quit his system and he drove into parc ferme the pain from his flying display would kick in and Serralles would have to be extracted from his car by the medical team and transported to hospital with suspected broken vertebrae.
Meanwhile Harvey was under investigation for exceeding the track limits and would also find himself being looked at over the incident on the Wellington Straight. Serralles probably didn’t care one way or the other, given the amount of pain he’d been in, but to everyone’s relief he was diagnosed with nothing more serious than a badly bruised coccyx. It will be painful for some time, but at least he’ll still be able to complete the season.
And so Lynn came home to victory, ahead of Jaafar (who is now 6 points ahead of Serralles in the points), while in 3rd was Tincknell, then van Asseldonk, Sainz Jr., Fantin, Serralles (now 2nd in the championship chase), Harvey (back in 3rd now having been in the lead when we arrived at Silverstone yesterday morning), Svendsen-Cook and Uhrhane. 11th went to Derani, holding off McBride all the way to the flag. 13th was Goddard, claiming the National Class victory, from Padaychee and Calbimonte.
The fastest laps of the race were set by Lynn and Goddard.
Next Races: Rounds 27, 28 & 29, Donington Park, Leicestershire, 29th/30th September.