Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 9,
Snetterton, Norfolk, June 5th/6th
© Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite
There were suggestions that Planet Racing and Lars Sexton
were about to return, but these proved to be false. They were
in orbit elsewhere and they obviously weren't coming back.
In addition, Danny Watts is back in the Promatecme F3-run
Lola-Dome, so that was good news. Oh, and Fairuz Fauzy (Menu
Motorsport) had changed his race number from 6 to 39, for
reasons we didn't like to enquire into (the last time a driver
did that it was because his clairvoyant told him to - you
don't want to know, we promise).
And just for good measure, on a short track where traffic
is bound to be a problem, we had 25 minute practice sessions
instead of the usual 30. Of course this may just be because
we needed to fit an extra race into the day.
Weather: Warm, cloudy, slightly windy.
Carlin Motorsport started the morning in formation, with Danilo
Dirani leading round Clivio Piccione and Alvaro Parente, the
three of them in flying duck formation. Meanwhile, Barton
Mawer's Performance Racing Dallara had a blue nose cone, which
is not normal. He also had a badly swollen hand, the two things
very closely related as it turned out. During Friday's testing
Mawer had gone off at high speed and hit the barriers, damaging
his wrist and the car badly. The wrist was so swollen that
no one could tell if anything was broken or not, and anyway
he'd declined a trip to the medical centre, so there wasn't
a lot that could be done about that. His team boss was very
phlegmatic about the whole thing, saying that the one good
thing about it was that at least they hadn't had to argue
with their insurers about it, as the man responsible for the
policy had arrived at the circuit just as the wreckage came
back on a flatbed truck.
Nelson A Piquet (Piquet Sports) was being very laid back this
morning, seeming to be in no hurry to get out there at all.
Well, most Brazilians we no don't do mornings if they can
help it, so you have to allow him a bit of leeway. While Piquet
was waking up, Piccione was busy setting an early target time,
only to find that Ryan Lewis (T-Sport) was not only on provisional
Scholarship Class pole - as usual - but was also 2nd overall.
At least he was until Ernesto Viso (P1 Motorsport) crossed
the start/finish line to go fastest of all. He was almost
immediately displaced by Piccione, and by Andrew Thompson
(Hitech Racing), who slotted into 2nd. It was all go at P1,
because Adam Carroll then went even faster, dropping the target
to 1:01.920, only for Viso to go even faster. And somewhere
out there, Piquet had just set the fastest first sector time
of the morning so far. Just for good measure Parente decided
to join in as well, dropping Carroll to 3rd. That was enough
for Carroll, who immediately fought back to reclaim pole.
Elsewhere James Rossiter (Fortec Motorsport) was 6th now,
and looking to progress. Someone who wasn't going to make
much progress was Andrew Thompson (Hitech Racing); the Scot
arrived at the Bombhole with a broken driveshaft and clattered
to a halt at Coram Curve, his session effectively over. And
we lost another one at Sear, though we never did establish
who it was. And despite the yellow flags, Rossiter continued
on his way, improving to 2nd when frankly he should have been
slowing down. He was now within 0.018 seconds of Carroll who
had lifted when he saw the flags. Afterwards, this would cause
a lot of dissatisfaction in the ranks, with those drivers
who do respect yellow flags less than happy that Rossiter
was allowed to get away with this. Certainly three or four
years ago, his times would have automatically been disallowed,
but we're living under a different regime now, and it's nowhere
near as strict as it ought to be.
Anyway, with cars off at both ends of the circuit, it was
time to haul out the re flags and send out the breakdown trucks.
Clearing up didn't take long, and the session was soon restarted,
with 15 minutes still to go. As the lights turned green, Karun
Chandhok (T-Sport) shot out of the pit lane, the Indian keen
to get a lap in now and try and improve from 18th. Meanwhile,
the top 5 places were occupied by Carroll, Rossiter, Viso,
Piquet and Will Power (Alan Docking Racing), the latter seemingly
re-energised by his dislike of Rossiter and his determination
to get on terms with him.
Dirani was looking more awake than he did in Scotland too,
and improved from 20th to 8th, just ahead of Chandhok who
was now 9th. And then it got too hot, and the improvements
stopped for most drivers. One of the exceptions to this was
Marko Asmer (Hitech Racing), the Estonian steadily getting
faster, even if he wasn't getting any further up the order
yet. Lewis, meanwhile, was causing problems for everyone by
throwing grit and gravel all over the place, getting over
the kerbs at the Bombhole with annoying regularity. The result
of that was that there were lots of sharp slivers of flint
lying around to make holes in people tyres, which kept happening.
While Fauzy managed to find an improvement of sorts from somewhere,
Davison, who'd encountered some of the lethally sharp flint,
had given up the unequal struggle and was in the pits, abandoning
the attempt and having to live with the knowledge that he
would start Sunday morning's race in 16th place. Any pretence
at diplomatic relations between Davison and Menu Motorsport
were now over, and it seems unlikely that he'll be seen in
one of their cars again.
Asmer, meanwhile, was finally reaping the rewards for his
efforts and was up to 11th, but there was nothing left in
his Avons, so he would get no further, and in fact would lose
a place in the closing stages when Watts improved to 11th.
The only other excitement came as the flag was readied, and
the session ended. First Vasilije Calasan (Promatecme F3)
came past having had an agricultural moment. The front wing
of the Dallara had suddenly acquired a lush green walrus moustache
of grass or wheat (or something green) that ran the full length
of the underside of the wing and trailed on the ground as
he went by. That simply made everyone laugh (though team boss
Chris Weller may not have seen the funny side). What made
everyone gasp, however, was the sudden change of pole man.
On his very last lap Piquet snatched pole away from Carroll,
and it looked like the Brazilian was the fastest man out there.
However, he kept it for a brief few seconds before di Grassi
completed his last flying lap and demoted the youngster to