2014 Cooper Tires British F3 Championship
Round 2, Rockingham Motor Speedway, United Kingdom, May 4th/5th 2014
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas
Weather: Cool, dry, sunny.
Race Report – Round 2 (Race 2):
The second round of the 2014 British F3 International Series saw Sam Macleod (Fortec Motorsport) score his second victory of the weekend, this time starting from the second row. He headed home team-mate Martin Cao, and Alice Powell (Carlin), who claimed a hard-earned 3rd.
At the start poleman Camren Kaminsky (Fortec Motorsport) and the man next to him, Andy Chang (Double R Racing) both made poor starts, Chang’s being especially dreadful, which meant they were both caught napping by Macleod. The eventual winner took off up the road almost before anyone noticed and he was in the lead by the time they got to Turn 1.
It was left to Cao to deal with the chasing pack as Macleod started to open an ever increasing gap. He certainly seemed to be bottling the rest of them up judging by the way Camren Kaminsky (Double R Racing) and Powell were snapping at his heels. Chang meanwhile had lost further ground and now had Li Zhi Cong (Carlin) looking for a way past. Behind the 6th place man was Matt Rao (Fortec Motorsport) who was looking quite distant at this point but soon set about making up lost ground.
As Macleod vanished into the distance, Cao started to put some clean air between himself and Kaminsky as Powell increased the pressure on the young American. Meanwhile, Li’s long hard look at Chang meant he’d fallen back into the reach of Rao.
It wasn’t long before Li came to regret his loss of pace, and on lap 7 Rao drove round the outside of the Chinese driver at Deene – it seems Rao had learned something from yesterday in that although he got a bit wobbly on the exit from the hairpin, he got away with it and was able to show a clean pair of heels to his opponent. He was soon closing fast on Chang.
That wasn’t the only change. A lap later, Powell blasted past Kaminsky on the inside of Turn 1 to claim 3rd, in a move she had begun to set up as they exited the chicane on the end of the previous lap. Despite having had to miss Sunday morning’s qualifying session because she was busy with trials to see if she can make the team for the Winter Olympics skeleton bob team, lack of mileage in the car wasn’t hampering her at all.
As she closed on Cao in 2nd, Powell found that Kaminsky was the least of her problems. The real threat was Rao who was now through for 5th having go the drop on Chang. As Powell set about trying to close Cao back down, she was towing Kaminsky with her. He eventually thought he’d seen an opportunity and went for it, trying to get up the inside. The cost was too great and he lost ground, getting on the grass on the run into the Chicane.
Rao didn’t need a second invitation and snatched 4th from the American. That left Powell with Rao looming in her mirrors. As she pushed on, he went with her and she would spend the rest of the race driving very defensively as he glued himself to her rear wing, every so often feinting to left or right to see if he could find some way past.
As Macleod continued his rapid run to the chequered flag, opening the gap out to 5.7 seconds, Cao got a birds’ eye view of the battle for 3rd but Powell wasn’t giving an inch, the Englishwoman determinedly holding the challenger off all the way to the flag.
Over the last few minutes of the race Macleod eased off a bit, allowing Cao to catch up, while Powell continued to keep Rao at bay. Kaminsky eventually finished in 5th, ahead of Chang and Li.
The fastest lap of the race was again set by Macleod.