British F3

Harvey beats the rain to win and regain title lead

Jack Harvey triumphed in a rain-shortened round 21 of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Snetterton this afternoon, the Lincolnshire driver heading home Felix Serralles to displace the Puerto Rican from the top of the championship table.

The race got underway in damp conditions after earlier thunderstorms and was curtailed on the ninth of the planned 16 laps when the heavens opened again.

Harvey drove impeccably throughout in the Racing Steps Foundation Carlin-prepared Dallara, leading from the pole and treading cautiously in the opening laps as he got used to the tricky conditions. With confidence built he scored the all-important extra point for fastest race lap before settling into survivor mode as the deluge hit.

Harvey, who crossed the line 4.6s ahead of Serralles, said: “That was really hard. The first two laps I took it easy and assessed the situation; after that I decided to push it forward and get the fastest lap. Then the rain started to come down and when you are leading in that situation it’s mightily hard to decide when to push. The conditions were unbelievable at the end.”

Serralles hung on well to Harvey until the fourth lap, when the Fortec man clouted a kerb and lost ground. He was disappointed to see the red flags: “In the beginning the conditions were not too bad; I think I had the pace to stay with him, but I made a mistake and hit a kerb. But I was still catching him after that; my car was really good and I think had the race continued I would have been able to pass him.”

Alex Lynn slotted in behind his team-mate Serralles and held third throughout. “It was a solid race; my pace wasn’t too bad in the wet and I think the forecast for tomorrow is more rain, so that bodes well.”

Another of the Fortec men, Dutch driver Hannes van Asseldonk, was the chief beneficiary of a first-lap fracas between late-braking National class pole man Pedro Pablo Calbimonte and the Carlin cars of Pietro Fantin and Carlos Sainz at the Montreal hairpin. Van Asseldonk snuck through the chaos to emerge fourth, from ninth on the grid, and he held that spot to the soggy end.

Sainz and Calbimonte were eliminated from the race in the collision, and Fantin limped to the pits for a lengthy stop. Harry Tincknell picked up a puncture in the incident also.

There was another great wet-race showing from CF Racing’s Chinese pilot Adderly Fong, who held sixth overall for a spell before slipping to eighth by the end behind T-Sport’s Nick McBride and Carlin’s Jazeman Jaafar. Fong was the convincing National class victor, 25 seconds ahead of category leader Spike Goddard (T-Sport).

“It just seems to click for me in the rain,” said Adderly. “There were lots of dramas along the way but I just kept it on the track. It got so wet it was virtually undrivable the last two laps.”

Title bidder Jaafar was another delayed on the opening lap; the Malaysian battled back from 11th on the opening lap to seventh by the end, behind his countryman Fahmi Ilyas (Double R) and McBride, despite an additional late-race spin.

Geoff Uhrhane could not find a way past Fong, the Australian settling for ninth overall at the line, with Tincknell the final finisher in 12th after Pipo Derani spun off at the end. Tincknell’s consolation was that his number was picked by winner Harvey on the podium and Harry will start tomorrow’s 20-minute sprint from the pole.