Weather: Clear, cold, breezy.
Race Report – Round 27 (Race 1):
At Donington Park this afternoon Jack Harvey (Carlin) moved to within 1 point of series leader Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) by beating the Malaysian to the flag. 3rd place went to Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport) who beat Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport) home, dropping the Puerto Rican youngster to 3rd in the championship fight, 8 points behind Jaafar. Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing) didn’t let being race rusty stop him from beating the regulars in the National Class to victory, though Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport) claimed the championship for 2012 with 3rd place after an early incident dropped him down the order.
At the start Harvey made no mistakes and held his nerve and his lead into Redgate, while Jaafar followed him through in 2nd. Serralles made a slightly hesitant start, and it cost him as Lynn needed no further invitation to barge through into 3rd, while back in the pack Goddard clashed with team mate Pedro Pablo Calbimonte (T-Sport), the Australian dropping back to dead last while Calbimonte continued 2nd in class.
With everything to play for this weekend, most of the drivers seemed deeply reluctant to take any risks, and so for entertainment value you needed to look quite a lot further back to 6th where Pietro Fantin (Carlin) and Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport) were locked into a fierce fight for 6th. Derani eased through at Goddards but the battle was a long way from over.
At the front Harvey was pushing hard, as shown by him setting the first of what would be a series of fastest laps for the Englishman. A quick outbreak of calculations suggested that if he picked up the point for that and finished first, he and Jaafar would be level pegging in the championship stakes by the time the dust settled. Behind them, Serralles was pushing hard to try and find a way past Lynn, but as his team-mate had nothing to lose, the youngster wasn’t about to risk crashing out and ending his championship challenge a day early. His less than brilliant start looked likely to cost him; he wasn’t about to compound the problem.
Meanwhile it was announced that the Calbimonte and Goddard incident would be investigated after the race. However, that wasn’t where the interest was. The excitement (and to be fair there wasn’t that much of it) was mostly in watching Serralles try to get past Lynn, clipping kerbs as he pushed harder, but unable to make any impact on the Englishman. All this made it easier for Harvey and Jaafar, Harvey setting new fastest laps on lap 2, lap 3, lap 4 and lap 5. On lap 6, however, Jaafar was able to go faster and it took Harvey another 3 laps to claim the potential point back.
Serralles looked as if he might be able to claim fastest lap from the lead pair, at least on lap 8, but then the challenge faded as he yet again failed to find a way past Lynn. However, a little further back it was now all kicking off, with Fantin now right back on Derani’s tail, while Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Double R Racing) had Nick McBride (ThreeBond with T-Sport) right with him and they were being caught by Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing). In addition, Goddard had now caught Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing) and was looking for ways past his fellow Australian to claim 3rd.
In the end it was easy for Goddard as Padaychee ran wide and he was able to slip though, even with the other man trying to come back at him. It was nowhere near as easy for Derani, who couldn’t get rid of Fantin no matter what he tried. Finally, as they came into Goddards, Fantin thought he saw a glimpse of daylight and went for it. The pair ran side by side all the way along the start/finish straight, and were wheel to wheel as they reached Redgate. Derani had the better line on the exit and pushed back ahead, while behind them Harry Tincknell (Carlin), who had caught the pair, suddenly sat back a bit, not wanting to get involved if it all went south badly.
A lap later and Fantin had another go but he still couldn’t quite do it. It wasn’t going to stop him trying though. While all that was going on yet another driver claimed the fastest lap, this time Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport), the Dutchman running a lonely race behind Serralles but ahead of the ferocious scrap going on behind him.
Svendsen-Cook was now having to hold off McBride and Uhrhane in a case of déjà vu, this being pretty much what he’d had to do for most of the last meeting at Silverstone. And now it was happening all over again. He’d enjoyed it then and seemed to be having a good time again but it does seem a lot more work is needed on the Double R cars to get them running near to the front again, and sadly it hasn’t happened this season.
Back in 6th Derani finally made a mistake, running wide and leaving the door open at the Melborne loop. It was all Fantin needed and he was through while Derani tried to get the car pointing in the proper direction, and Tincknell thought he would have a crack at an overtaking move too. He wasn’t in quite the right place to succeed but he gave Derani a scare nonetheless. Derani tried to find a way back but it proved impossible and now Fantin was no longer bottled up, he was soon able to open a comfortable gap over his countryman, leaving Derani to hold off Tincknell all the way to the finish.
While Calbimonte was reprimanded for not respecting track limits, Harvey set a new fastest lap, but he didn’t keep it for long. That elusive extra point finally ended up with Lynn, who was now catching Jaafar as Serralles faded slightly and was unable to keep pace with his team-mate.
As they started the last lap, Harvey was now nearly 5 seconds clear of Jaafar and he crossed the line to wild applause from his family and friends. 2nd (and thus one point ahead in the race to the 2012 title) was Jaafar, from Lynn, Serralles, van Asseldonk, Fantin, Derani, Tincknell, Svendsen-Cook and McBride. Just out of the points in 11th was Uhrhane, from National Class winner Lloyd, Calbimonte, Goddard and Padayachee.
That 3rd place in class was enough to confirm Goddard as the 2012 National Class champion and the Australian celebrated in some style on the podium afterwards, wearing a hat decorated with corks, wrapped in an Australian flag and waving a toy kangaroo about.
And so, we head towards the final day of the championship with no idea who of the three potential champions will claim the overall victory. With the reversed grid, for tomorrow morning’s Sprint Race, Tincknell starts on pole, which puts Serralles 5th, Jaafar 7th and Harvey 8th. It almost certainly won’t be decided in the sprint race and will likely go right down to the wire and be decided by the feature race late tomorrow afternoon.
The fastest laps of the race were set by Lynn and Lloyd.