2014 Cooper Tires British F3 Championship, Rounds 7 & 9 – Qualifying Report and Times

2014 Cooper Tires British F3 Championship
Rounds 7-9, Snetterton, United Kingdom, June 21st/22nd 2014
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas

Weather: Sunny, warm, dry.

Qualifying Report: With Sam Macleod (Fortec Motorsport) back from his German F3 adventures, it probably wasn’t that surprising to see him dominate qualifying, claiming pole for rounds 7 and 9 after half an hour on the Norfolk track. 2nd went to an more than slightly annoyed Martin Cao (Fortec Motorsport) who felt he’d been hard done by when he had a time disallowed for not respecting track limits. He wasn’t the only one, though he was the only one who found it had cost him a pole position. 3rd was the last of the Fortec cars in the hands of Matt Rao.

Macleod didn’t get off to best of starts to the session when he managed to throw himself off the circuit. He recovered quickly but it could have been embarrassing! Fastest early on was Camren Kaminsky (Double R Racing) but with all the cars out early it was soon a different story as Macleod rocketed up the order setting a far faster time than anyone else was capable of. 2nd was Andy Chang (Double R Racing), with Kaminsky slipping to 3rd. Rao was now 4th from Cao, while Carlin’s only driver, Li Zhi Cong was last.

With only six cars out there it wasn’t the most dynamic of sessions, though people were trying to make in interesting with a smattering of track limit warnings for Rao and Chang, while Li had a minor off at Riches. He too recovered and was able to join in the rush for the pits that kicked off when all of the Fortecs came in at once.

Macleod was around half a second ahead when he felt the need for fresh rubber, with Rao 2nd ahead of Cao. Chang was now 4th from Kaminsky and the errant Li. With everyone now in and lots of new tyres being bolted on, it was very quiet out on the track. Two thirds of the session had elapsed before anyone completed an out lap, so they had less than ten minutes to play with. Chang was certainly pushing hard even on his out lap as he managed to set a personal best in Sector 2, but it wasn’t going to help him and may even have hampered his ability to get the best out of his new boots.

The improvements did start to come after that – starting with Kaminsky, though he stayed 5th. Cao was now on a charge and was up to 2nd as the time ticked away. Li was next to improved and gained two places for 4th. Kaminsky dropped to 6th behind Chang as a result of a track limits penalty. However, it was now all on for pole. Cao was edging closer to Macleod with the gap now down to a mere 0.066 seconds, which looked manageable. A lap later and Cao was ahead but then his time was disallowed, and for good measure Macleod came back all the stronger.

The gap increased to 0.265 seconds, but Cao fought back. Unfortunately for him, no matter what he tried, Macleod had the answer and Cao’s efforts just seemed to spur his opponent on. The upshot was that Macleod was suddenly 0.4 seconds ahead again. He seemed to feel he had now done enough and he pitted to wait out the remainder of the session.

In the closing stages, Kaminsky improved but stayed 6th, while Chang also managed to find some more speed from somewhere but again was unable to alter his position. It was all over bar the shouting and even an improvement from Rao did nothing to change the order.

Grid Race 1 (Second Fastest Qualifying Laps):
1st – No. 50, Sam MacLeod, GBR, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, 1:43.475
2nd – No. 57, Martin Cao, CHN, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, 1:43.493
3rd – No. 7, Matt Rao, GBR, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, 1:43.803
4th – No. 1, Li Zhi Cong, CHN, Carlin, Dallara F308, Volkswagen, 1:44.375
5th – No. 8, Andy Chang, MAC, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, 1:44.394
6th – No. 34, Camren Kaminsky, USA, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, 1:44.593

Race 3 Grid (Fastest Qualifying Laps):
1st –  No. 50, Sam MacLeod, GBR, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, 1:43.060
2nd – No. 57, Martin Cao, CHN, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, 1:43.490
3rd – No. 7, Matt Rao, GBR, Fortec Motorsport, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, 1:43.626
4th – No. 1, Li Zhi Cong, CHN, Carlin, Dallara F308, Volkswagen, 1:44.235
5th – No. 8, Andy Chang, MAC, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, 1:44.341
6th – No. 34, Camren Kaminsky, USA, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, HWA Mercedes, 1:44.552