Weather: Dry, sunny, windy.
At Donington Park today Jack Harvey (Carlin) claimed pole position for Race 1 and Race 3, thus improving his chances of leaving the Leicestershire circuit with the 2012 title. Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) qualified 2nd for Race 1, and Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport) starts 3rd. For Race 3, Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport) is 2nd and Jaafar will start 3rd. Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing), behind the wheel for the first time since the 2011 Macau Grand Prix claimed both National Class pole positions.
This makes the prospect of the final three races of the season far more exciting than they might have been. With Harvey having had his sprint race penalty from Silverstone rescinded, he now has 273 points and is six points off the series leader Jaafar (279 points) with Serralles in 2nd on 276 points it really is all still to play for. The only other men with at least a mathematical chance of taking the title are Lynn and Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin) but as they are both on 224 points and 55 points behind Jaafar with a maximum of 63 points up for grabs it seems unlikely that Lynn will spring a surprise. Sainz Jr. certainly won’t as RedBull have shipped him off to the F3 Euro Series round at Valencia where he has a far better chance of claiming a title.
With this in mind the field rolled out at the start of qualifying with all 15 cars taking to the track immediately. It was busy even with Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing) having to come straight back in at the end of the out lap after his fire extinguisher went off. That meant a long stay in the pits while the cockpit was cleaned out and the extinguisher recharged, costing him half of the session.
Meanwhile the National Class cars of Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport) and Pedro Pablo Calbimonte (T-Sport) started out fastest though they would not stay there. It got weirder when they were joined by the other two National Class runners, Lloyd and Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing) with Harry Tincknell (Carlin) in 4th splitting them.
A lap later and Jaafar was fastest with Harvey just behind, Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Double R Racing) in 3rd and Serralles back in a slightly distant 6th. Jaafar went faster on his next flying lap, but Harvey almost immediately came back at him to reclaim pole. Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport) was next to show moving up to 3rd, at least temporarily. He was replaced by Serralles and then Lynn went 2nd.
A lap later Serralles edged into pole from Harvey and Jaafar, pushing Lynn down to 4th, while Lloyd was now leading the National Class despite claiming to have forgotten which way any of the corners went. Calbimonte briefly took it from him, though he didn’t get to keep it long.
Meanwhile Jaafar was being warned for not respecting track limits and Serralles was going ever faster. Lynn was also still in the mix and had jumped back up to 3rd. Harvey then claimed pole for one race and was starting to look good for the second race. Or at least he did till Tincknell went even faster. That was enough for Harvey to fight back. Meanwhile Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport) was improving though it was only enough to move him up to 7th.
Things then calmed down briefly but an effort from Jaafar moved him to the top o the table, but Harvey dug deep and improved on the Malaysian driver’s time by 0.007 seconds, with Lynn pushing in between them for 2nd. Serralles was the next improver though it was only enough to put him 4th. Derani then went 7th, while van Asseldonk grabbed 5th.
Svendsen-Cook was now warned for not respecting track limits but it wasn’t helping him. Tincknell meanwhile pitted with five minutes left, in search of a tweak or two perhaps. While that was going on Derani nabbed 7th from Fantin only for Fantin to claim it back, get a black and white flag for not respecting track limits and then a lap later go 5th. And although Tincknell returned to the track with three minutes left, there were no more position changed. Fantin did go faster but stayed 5th and that was it.
Harvey then starts Race 1 this afternoon from pole, while his title rivals are 2nd (Jaafar) and 3rd (Serralles). Lynn is 4th, from Fantin, van Asseldonk, Derani, Tincknell, McBride and Svendsen-Cook. 11th is Uhrhane, ahead of National Class runner Lloyd, Goddard, Calbimonte and Padayachee.
The order for Race 3 is again Harvey, from Lynn, Jaafar, Serralles, Fantin, Tincknell, van Asseldonk, Derani, McBride and Svendsen-Cook. 11th will be Uhrhane, from National Class pole man Lloyd, Goddard, Calbimonte and Padayachee.