Benjamin Harvey sets Oulton Park practice pace

Benjamin Harvey set the fastest time in F3 Cup Championship practice at Oulton Park, ahead of Monday's season-opening races.

Benjamin Harvey set the fastest time in F3 Cup Championship practice at Oulton Park today (Friday), ahead of Monday's season-opening races. He overcame morning pace-setter James Abbott and early afternoon leader Louis Hamilton-Smith to set the benchmark time in the final session.

Abbott set the pace in first practice, the 18-year old waiting until the dying moments before showing his hand. Earlier on Hamilton-Smith handed the baton to Stephen Clegg, Dave Karaskas and Stuart Wiltshire as the session wore on.

Abbott then topped the times with just two minutes remaining on the clock, after posting the fastest time in every sector. He did the same on the following two laps, knocking a second off each time to end up nearly two seconds faster than Hamilton-Smith.

The same pair led session two, however the gap had closed dramatically, as Hamilton-Smith tracked Abbott during the early laps. The latter pulled away and held an advantage of a second by his fourth lap, already his quickest of the day, however Hamilton-Smith clawed this back to under three tenths.

Gino Ussi headed the times early on in Practice three, making up for missing the morning sessions. However Abbot was chasing him down and the pair were joined by Hamilton-Smith. It was the latter who recorded the fastest time at the midway point, as Harvey also made his presence felt. As the times continued to tumble between the latter three, it was Abbot who was being left behind, unable to match his earlier pace, which the two ahead had already beaten.

Ussi started the fourth session fastest too, whilst Hamilton-Smith elected to remain in the garage. Abbott struggled to improve once more, leaving Harvey to take the honours with the fastest lap of the day, half a second quicker than the earlier benchmark. Abbott called it a day before the chequered flag was called, with his second session time the best effort and almost beaten by Mark Harrison.

F3 Cup qualifying will take place at 8:30am on Monday.

F3 Cup Championship practice, combined times
1, Benjamin Harvey, Dallara F307 Mugen Honda, 1:34.785s
2, Louis Hamilton-Smith, Dallara F304 Renault Sodemo, +0.416s
3, James Abbott, Dallara F306 Toyota, +0.737s
4, Mark Harrison, Dallara F306 Mugen Honda, +0.742s
5, Chris Needham, Dallara F302 Opel Speiss, +1.311s
6, Gino Ussi, Dallara F307 Mercedes HWA, +1.523s
7, Stuart Wiltshire, Dallara F307 Toyota, +2.241s
8, Dave Karaskas, Dallara F300 Opel Spiess, +2.548s
9, Tony Bishop, Dallara F306 Toyota, +2.815s
10, Stephen Clegg, Dallara F301 Renault, +3.232s

Tickets for the British GT/F3 and F3 Cup Championships at Oulton Park on 6,7 & 9 April are available on the gate from £13, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.