Needham triumphant at rain soaked Brands Hatch
Chris Needham ended Aaron Steele's run of victories in the F3 Cup after an eventful race dominated by rain at Brands Hatch.
16/07/2011 - Chris Needham ended Aaron Steele's run of victories in the F3 Cup after an eventful race dominated by rain at Brands Hatch.
Steele powered into the lead at the start and he looked set to extend his run of impressive winning form. However, the 22-year-old hit a patch of oil and he slid into the gravel at Druids, handing Needham the victory late on.
Pole sitter Steele made a good start but the best getaway belonged to fellow Kent man Mark Terry, as he leapt from the third row into second spot ahead of Needham. The trio were followed by the slow starting Matt Draper, who dropped from his second place grid slot to fourth.
It didn't take long for Steele to settle into a strong consistent pace in the difficult wet conditions and he began to gap the field. There was plenty of action behind as Needham produced an impressive move around Terry for second spot at Druids, while Dave Karaskas, Louis Hamilton-Smith and Kat Impey were battling for fifth. Impey capitalised on the tricky conditions and subsequently moved up to sixth after Hamilton-Smith's spin.
Terry pushed Needham for second spot midway through the race and the battle for fifth intensified, with Karaskas under immense pressure from Impey.
With a commanding lead, Steele looked set to record yet another victory, only for his hard work to be undone after slipping into the Druids gravel trap after hitting a patch of oil. Draper followed Steele into the gravel trap and the incident brought a premature end to the race on lap 16. Needham was declared the winner ahead of local man Terry and Karaskas.
A delighted Needham said: "It's a win. It's inherited but you have got to keep the car on the track to win. Mark Terry got a fantastic start and once I got by him I thought I would have a chance to stay with Aaron but I couldn't as usual."
Mark Terry was equally pleased with a deserved podium finish in second: "I had a brilliant start and it launched me into second. I tried to pass Aaron but I just couldn't pull it off. It was really difficult out on the track, but it's been a long time since I've been on the podium so this has given me a big lift."
"I've had three thirds and a second so I'm hoping to get that elusive win now, said third place finisher Dave Karaskas. " Considering the conditions, I'm really happy to be on the podium again."
A disappointed Steele felt hard done by not to clinch the win after hitting oil on lap 16, he said: "I was setting a good pace and I was getting my head down but then two laps from the end I came up to Druids, braked how I normally would and the car just locked up and I went into the gravel. I tried to recover it but the car was beached. It's annoying but it was a racing incident. There is no damage to the car it just needs a clean. I really need to make tomorrow's race work because this is a huge blow to the Sunoco GRAND-AM Challenge points."
Brands Hatch Race One Results:
1. C Needham, Dallara F302, 16 laps
2. M Terry, Dallara F302, +0.573s
3. D Karaskas, Dallara F300, +15.542s
4. K Impey, Dallara F302, +15.698s
5. L Hamilton-Smith, Dallara F301, 17.794s
6. M Payne, Dallara F300, +44.851s
7. T Bishop, Dallara F302, +1 lap