Grand Prix circuit delivers thrilling second race at sun drenched Brands Hatch
21/08/2011 - The legendary Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit provided the F3 Cup drivers a unique challenge but it failed to disrupt Aaron Steele.
21/08/2011 - The legendary Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit provided the F3 Cup drivers a unique challenge but it failed to disrupt Aaron Steele as he claimed an impressive double win.
The Grays Motorsport driver once again delivered a faultless performance from pole position to record his ninth win of the season, boosting his hopes of securing a coveted FIA Formula Two test for the series' most meritorious racer. While Steele dominated at the front, fellow Kent born driver Mark Terry secured another podium in second and 2011 race winner Chris Needham ended his weekend on a high with a deserved third place.
A 15 minute qualifying session gave the F3 Cup drivers a stern test to deliver a lap time and it was Steele who starred, as he secured pole with a time of 1.24.215s. The time was 2.4 seconds faster than his nearest rival Matt Draper. Mark Terry, competing in his first ever race meeting at the circuit, was third fastest and Kat Impey showed flashes of blistering pace to claim the final spot on row two. Needham, learned from mistakes in Saturday's qualifying session and lined up in fifth alongside Mark Harrison.
Steele judged the start well and leapt into the lead as the cars headed into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time. Matt Draper's hopes of victory were dashed just seconds into the race, as he stalled on the grid, but he managed to fire up the car and join the rear of the field. Draper's slow getaway allowed Terry to slot into second spot with Impey close behind in third.
Once in front Steele showed his pace and he quickly established a healthy lead while Terry and Impey tried their best to challenge the leader. Needham soon latched onto the back of Impey's rear wing after fending off the fast starting Mark Harrison.
Draper wasted little time as he tried to recover from his poor start and it didn't take long for him to move into the top 10. The battle for third soon developed into the closest battle as Needham found himself all over the back of Impey's car looking for a way through. He eventually succeeded and moved into third place where he stayed until the chequered flag. Draper's inspired recovery drive continued and he soon found himself in fourth after overtaking Karaskas, Alf Skeels, Mark Harrison and Impey.
Steele continued to stretch his legs in the lead and looked certain to the record another win after building an impressive lead at the front. The 22-year-old's main issue came from backmarkers, which he successfully dealt with and he clinched the win by almost 25 seconds from Terry and Needham.
A pleased double winner Aaron Steele said: "Its about getting those Sunoco points to win the Sunoco Grand AM 200 Challenge at the minute, so the wins, poles and fastest laps all play a part. It builds up a nice cushion. I'm happy with my pace. I was really enjoying it and settling into a nice rhythm."
After beginning the weekend without completing any race laps around the circuit, second place finisher Terry declared the weekend a success, following his second podium of the meeting.
Terry said:"I feel like I'm getting back to the old Mark Terry of last year. I'm really pleased with the weekend. Aaron got the jump on me straight away and the plan was to tag onto the back. I got a good start and it was just a case of putting in some good laps. Its been a brilliant weekend and it is great to have the sponsors here and all the family to support us."
Third place finisher Chris Needham was thoroughly pleased to end the weekend on a high, he said: "It's been a completely mixed weekend. I made a mistake in first qualifying but recovered in the first race. I've been 15 minutes behind everybody all weekend in terms of learning the circuit so its great to get a podium at the end of it."
The F3 Cup returns on 10/11 September when the series heads to Wales to take on the picturesque Anglesey circuit.
Brands Hatch GP Race Two Top 10:
1 A Steele, Dallara F302, 11 laps
2 M Terry, Dallara F302, +24.745s
3 C Needham, Dallara F302, +27.936s
4 M Draper, Dallara F304, +36.493s
5 K Impey, Dallara F302, +45.128s
6 D Karaskas, Dallara F300, +50.480s
7 A Skeels, Dallara F301, +55.569s
8 N Robinson, Dallara F302, +1.14.146s
9 M Payne, Dallara F300, +1.33.037s
10 J Ledamun, TOMS 036F, +1.33.217s