Steele strikes first blow in F3 Cup Race One at MSVR GP Weekend

20/08/2011 - Local man Aaron Steele showed his class to convert a pole position into a race win on the fast and flowing Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit

20/08/2011 - Local man Aaron Steele showed his class to convert a pole position into a race win on the fast and flowing Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in race one at the MSVR GP Weekend.

Steele made no mistake from the start and successfully dealt with a safety car period to record another win to take his tally to eight for the season. Matt Draper continued his run of podium finishes with an impressive second and Kent racer Mark Terry came home in third, in his first ever race on the 2.3 mile Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.

With the Monoposto 2000 and Classic cars joining the F3 Cup grid, qualifying proved to be an interesting concept with drivers faced with extra traffic. Steele once again showed his pace as he secured pole by three seconds from Draper and Terry. Mark Harrison impressed by claiming fourth spot just ahead of Lanan Racing's Kat Impey. Dave Karaskas, competing in his 400th race, Alf Skeels, Nick Robinson, Stuart Wiltshire and Neil Harrison rounded out the top ten. Chris Needham made a rare start from the back of the grid after suffering problems in qualifying.

The polesitter reacted well to the lights and he surged into the lead at Paddock Hill Bend with Draper and Terry falling in behind in second and third respectively. Impey progressed up to fourth by passing Mark Harrison on the opening lap.

Steele built a comfortable advantage in the early laps before the introduction of the safety car neutralised the race. However, the former Formula Palmer Audi driver was calm at the restart and he soon built up a lead and Draper and Terry were unable to reel him in. Impey held on to fourth but attention soon turned to the rear of the field with Chris Needham storming up through the pack. Needham found his way passed Karaskas, Skeels and Harrison to finish the race in a creditable fifth position.

Meanwhile at the front, Steele maintained a strong pace and he took the chequered flag with a comfortable lead from Draper and Terry.

Race winner Aaron Steele admitted afterwards the win wasn't as easy as it looked, he said: "I got a good start and after the safety car I had to deal with the backmarkers. It was one of the toughest races mentally to stay foucussed. Its lovely driving around the circuit but you can lose focus very easily."

Second placed finisher Matt Draper was satisfied to continue his run of podiums but frustrated not to be standing on the top step of the podium. "The race was okay, said Draper. "I was looking in my mirrors a lot at the restart and just watching the gap. It was a bit disappointing I couldn't keep up with Aaron. But I absolutely love the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit."

Competing in his first ever race on the Grand Prix circuit, Medway driver, Terry was thoroughly pleased with his third place, he said: "I'd like to think I'm making finishing on the podium a habit. I kept looking at my times throughout the race and my times were getting better and better, but a few of the corners kept me on my toes. It's a fantastic circuit though."

The second F3 Cup of the MSVR GP Weekend will take place on Sunday at 18:05pm.

Brands Hatch GP Race One Results Top 10:

1 A Steele, Dallara F302, 10 laps
2 M Draper, Dallara F304, +15.241s
3 M Terry, Dallara F302, +19.621s
4 K Impey, Dallara F302, +32.767s
5 C Needham, Dallara F302, +38.072s
6 M Harrison, Dallara F302/4 +39.176s
7 D Karaskas, Dallara F300 +44.087s
8 A Skeels, Dallara F301, +48.936s
9 S Wiltshire, Dallara F302, +53.784s
10 N Harrison, Dallara F302/4 +54.264s