British F3

The Cooper Tires British Formula 3 title fight intensified at Donington Park today in testing ahead of the weekend’s final rounds of the championship, with the leading trio in the points table separated at the top of the timesheets by just 0.147s.

Jack Harvey ran out the quickest in the weather-hit Donington test, nine-hundredths quicker than his Carlin team-mate and championship leader Jazeman Jaafar, with Fortec’s Felix Serralles five-hundredths further back. Harvey’s time of 1m 23.156s was a tenth shy of that he achieved in better weather at Donington two weeks ago.

It’s been a good couple of days for Lincolnshire driver Harvey and his title aspirations. Yesterday an MSA judicial review of his Silverstone second-race time penalty found in his favour, restoring Jack to a finishing position of second in that race. With that decision came the return of 14 championship points.

Jaafar still leads the championship heading for the weekend’s showdown races, the Malaysian three points ahead of Puerto Rican Serralles, with Harvey still third overall but now only six points off the top.

Harvey set his best time in this morning’s damp-but-drying session; his hopes of improving in the afternoon were dashed by a stoppage while the crashed car of Pipo Derani was retrieved from the track, which delay was followed immediately by a heavy shower. Serralles was the only one of the three title hopefuls to improve his time before the rains came.

Derani had just bettered his time to go third in the afternoon session (and sixth overall) when the Brazilian went off, sliding into a tyre wall and deranging his Dallara’s suspension. Pipo was unhurt in the incident.

The top five for the day was completed by Brazil’s Pietro Fantin (Carlin) and Essex driver Alex Lynn (Fortec). Lynn was the quickest on the damp circuit at the end of session two following the shower, posting a time of 1m 35.932s.

Hywel Lloyd enjoyed a successful return to the cockpit in his CF Racing National class Dallara, ending his test day four-hundredths ahead of T-Sport man Spike Goddard.

Official qualifying at Donington is scheduled for 1220 Saturday, with the first of the weekend’s three races following at 1640.

BTCC

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Little more than a week remains before Northamptonshire’s world-famous Silverstone circuit (Sat 6/Sun 7 Oct) hosts the crucial penultimate round of this year’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. The three races at Silverstone will decide who will then still be in with a chance of winning the UK’s most prestigious motor racing title on Finals Day at Brands Hatch in Kent a fortnight later.
Seven drivers can mathematically still be crowned BTCC Champion in 2012, namely Honda Yuasa Racing Team team-mates Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal who lead the way, MG KX Momentum Racing’s Jason Plato, Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan, eBay Motors pair Robert Collard and Tom Onslow-Cole and Redstone Racing’s Mat Jackson.
Arriving at Silverstone it is Hampshire’s Collard, Surrey’s Onslow-Cole and Warwickshire’s Jackson who will be most under pressure to perform if they are to keep their fading title hopes alive. All are presently more than 67 points adrift of leader Shedden with that then being the maximum available when the cars take to the legendary Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit for the season finale on the weekend of 20/21 October.
Of the four ahead, two wins for Scotsman Shedden last weekend at Rockingham, also in Northamptonshire, have moved him into the championship lead by three points from Worcestershire’s Neal. Shedden has never won the BTCC before while Neal is looking to retain his crown from last season – achieved when he defeated Shedden at Silverstone – and make it four titles to his name.
For Oxford’s Plato, himself a double BTCC Champion, Silverstone is very much his home event as it is for Lichfield youngster Jordan who, like Shedden and Neal, races a Honda Civic. All three Honda drivers, though, are expecting to struggle around Silverstone’s high-speed National circuit and Plato, in his MG6, will be hoping they are right.
Plato is currently 32 points behind Shedden with a maximum of 67 available from Silverstone’s three races. What’s more his MG team-mate Andy Neate, another local from nearby Aylesbury, will surely be out to aid Plato’s chances by stealing vital points away from his Honda rivals…
Silverstone’s short lap and long, wide straights never fail to deliver plenty of doorhandle-to-doorhandle entertainment for fans. Indeed the view from Woodcote corner of cars slipstreaming and fanning out five abreast along the Wellington Straight is one of the most evocative of the season.
As ever ‘the home of British motor sport’, easily accessible from across the Midlands just off the A43 dual carriageway between the M40 and M1 motorways, is making its big BTCC weekend hugely popular among audiences both young and old. Adult tickets for race day (Sunday) start from just £29 if booked in advance with admission for accompanied children aged 15 and under FREE all weekend. All admission includes access to grandstands, the main central BTCC teams’ paddock and Sunday’s specially organised autograph session with the star touring car drivers.
To book in advance visit www.silverstone.co.uk or call the ticket hotline 0844 3750 740.

F3 Euro Series

This weekend in Spain, the Formula 3 Euro Series young-guns are entering the home straight of their 2012 season. At Valencia, they will contest the 19th, 20th and 21st race of the year, with the season finale at Hockenheim following on 19th to 21st October. Championship leader Daniel Juncadella (Prema Powerteam) travels to the 4.005-kilometre circuit Ricardo Tormo with 187 points on his tally while second-placed Pascal Wehrlein (Mücke Motorsport), the best rookie of the season, follows 25 points behind. Meanwhile, local hero Carlos Sainz (Carlin) also set himself the goal to shine in front of his home crowd.

In 2011, Juncadella secured two podiums at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. And his squad, the Prema Powerteam, also has fond memories of last year’s Valencia weekend. After all, their driver Roberto Merhi, who races in DTM, today, secured the 2011 Euro Series title early, in Spain. A feat that could be repeated by Juncadella. But doing so definitely won’t be a walk in the park for the championship leader as his toughest rival in the battle for the title, Pascal Wehrlein, also travels to Valencia in a confident mood. In the first pre-season tests that also were held at the Spanish metropolis, he impressed by outpacing Juncadella and making it to the top-three on both days.

Daniel Juncadella (Prema Powerteam): “I’m looking forward the Formula 3 Euro Series weekend in my native country. My hometown, Barcelona, is not far from Valencia and so, some of my friends are going to support me on site. As overtaking is virtually impossible, on this racetrack, securing a good grid position in the qualifying session will be of particular importance, here. In the races, I will avoid any major risk but focus on scoring as many points as possible, instead. I don’t even think about securing the Euro Series title early but I’m determined to get my self in a good and promising position for the season finale at Hockenheim.”