The sound of Tatuus-Cosworth engines broke the peaceful Belgium countryside as British F3 retuned to action after the summer break…
Sun-kissed and akin to a bronzed Adonis, the F3 desk returned from our summer break to get straight back into the action as the British F3 championship arrived at Spa-Francorchamps for rounds 13, 14 and 15. Swedish ace Linus Lundqvist has had a stella first half of the season, but with fellow Scandinavian and championship rival Nicolai Kjaergaard close behind, it’s all to play for.
However, it was Fortec Motorsport’s Tom Gamble who struck the first blow of the weekend securing an impressive pole position for tomorrow’s race in a very close qualifying.
The Brit is the reigning Ginetta Junior champion and was just 0.080 seconds ahead of championship leader Lundqvist. Gamble’s team mate Manuel Maldonado just 0.015 seconds behind as the Venusalen secured his best qualifying result to date.
A damp start ensured all 19 drivers were keen to get out of the pits early doors, but the rain never appeared and Gamble was left to secure the top spot.
If the weather wasn’t providing the drama, the on-track action was, with the top three covered by less than a tenth of a second in the closest qualifying yet.
In fourth place was the impressive Ayrton Simmons on his British F3 debut with Chris Dittmann Racing. Channelling his name-sake, the British driver set exactly the same lap time as Carlin’s Billy Monger, with Simmons starting ahead on the grid having set the time first. This is the second time that this has happened, as last time out in Silverstone Gamble and Kush Maini set identical times in race three!
Another newcomer, Douglas Motorsport’s Max Defourny, was sixth on his home circuit and certainly gave the locals something to cheer about.
Hillspeed’s Jusuf Owega claimed eighth on the grid, just 0.018 seconds behind Krish Mahadik, with Sun Yue Yang and Kush Maini completing a top-10 covered by just 0.362 seconds!
Less than a second covered the entire top-16, with Sasakorn Chaimongkol in 11th ahead of championship challenger Nicolai Kjaergaard – who will relish the opportunity to overtake after a difficult session. Frenchman Tristan Charpentier was 13th fastest.
The third of our newcomers, Jamie Caroline, was 14th for Carlin, just 0.547 seconds off pole, with Pavan Ravishankar and Jamie Chadwick both within a second of the outright pace.
Arvin Esmaeili, Josh Mason and Ben Hurst completed the 19 runners and riders.
“We’ve gradually got quicker all day; from first practice we were a little bit down, and after each session we’ve changed the car a little bit and changed some things with myself. We’ve got quicker and quicker and I pulled it out of the bag when it mattered in qualifying. The rain affected things a little bit at the start, everyone was quite rushed out and on the other side of the circuit there was a little bit more rain on the visor. Seeing the rain on the visor, I was wary of pushing too hard in case I crashed. So I took it a little bit steady and when I came across the line I saw it was quite quick compared to my practice times. P1 was on the board and luckily it stayed there for the rest of the session.”
“I’ve seen the weather forecast for tomorrow but you never know what it’s going to do around here. Thinking back to the two day test here at the start of the year, it was sunny on the first day and then snowed on the second day – so it could rain or stay dry! But either way should have the pace in the wet… from qualifying we know we have the pace in the dry and it’s all to play for.”
BRDC British F3 Championship, Spa Francorchamps qualifying result:
1. Tom Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, 2m18.857s
2. Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, +0.080s
3. Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, +0.095s
4. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +0.142s
5. Billy Monger, Carlin, +0.142s
6. Max Defourny, Douglas Motorsport, +0.204s
7. Krishnaraaj Mahadik, Double R Racing, +0.206s
8. Jusuf Owega, Hillspeed, +0.224s
9. Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, +0.294s
10. Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, +0.362s
11. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +0.393s
12. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, +0.452s
13. Tristan Charpentier, Fortec Motorsports, +0.540s
14. Jamie Caroline, Carlin, +0.547s
15. Pavan Ravishankar, Double R Racing, +0.791s
16. Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, +0.850s
17. Arvin Esmaeili, Douglas Motorsport, +2.512s
18. Josh Mason, Lanan Racing, +2.530s
19. Ben Hurst, Hillspeed, +2.659s
Race one gets the green lights at 13:30 and Overtake will be here to bring you all the action…