Tristan Cliffe tops F3 Cup standings as title battle heats up at Snetterton

03/07/2012 - Omicron Motorsport’s Tristan Cliffe is the new leader of the F3 Cup championship despite Linton Stutely’s domination of the latest rounds at the Snetterton 300 circuit last weekend (30 June/1 July).

03/07/2012 - Omicron Motorsport's Tristan Cliffe is the new leader of the F3 Cup championship despite Linton Stutely's domination of the latest rounds at the Snetterton 300 circuit last weekend (30 June/1 July).

While Enigma Motorsport's Stutely enjoyed a perfect weekend securing pole position followed by two highly impressive victories, the championship battle took another twist with Cliffe moving to the top of the standings. The 30-year-old, from Norwich, who recorded two top eight finishes, holds a slim 5.5 point lead over Chris Dittmann after rounds 9 and 10 of the season at Snetterton.

New championship leader Cliffe is pleased to top the standings at the halfway mark, but insists he is not thinking about the championship just yet. He said: "It's been close all year and at this point I'm in front but I'm not recording any commanding wins. It's early days as there are eight races to go and there are a lot of points up for grabs, so we can't be thinking about the championship at this stage. We need to regroup. We have got six weeks until the next round to sort some issues and come back stronger."

The drivers took part in only their third dry qualifying session of the year on Saturday which allowed the field to test themselves and their machines to the limit. Stutely was quick from the outset and he came closest to reaching the limit, posting a best time of 1.46.558s, which was good enough to secure pole position. Tewkesbury's Chris Dittmann joined him on the front row with Louis Hamilton-Smith third and David Scott an impressive fourth. Kidderminster's Mark Harrison was fifth just ahead of Cliffe, Gino Ussi, James Abbott, Robbie Watts and Alf Skeels.

Race one began in dramatic style with Hamilton-Smith and Dittmann both failing to make the start. Hamilton-Smith suffered a fault with his starter motor and Dittmann locked his front brakes, forcing them into retirement on the formation lap. This allowed Stutely to make an unchallenged start and he led the field into Riches. David Scott moved into second spot with Mark Harrison in third. Gino Ussi reacted well and overtook Omicron Motorsport's Cliffe on the run down to Riches. Chris Needham made the best start climbing to sixth after starting from 11th on the grid. Ussi moved into third with an incredible move around Harrison at Riches, but there was nothing stopping Stutely at the front. He took the flag comfortably from Scott and Ussi. Prajesh Shah picked up his best finish of the season in 10th place.  

Stutely was forced to defend at the start of race two from the fast starting Scott and Ussi but he managed to hold onto the lead at the first corner. He soon moved into a healthy lead but there was plenty of action behind, with Dittmann and Hamilton-Smith surging through the field after starting from the back of the grid. Hamilton-Smith made up a couple of positions on the opening lap before completing a series of breathtaking moves around the outside at Riches and Coram to move into third place with a handful of laps remaining. Whatever, Hamilton-Smith did, Dittmann tried to better, but he could only make it as far as fifth at the chequered flag. Harrison, Cliffe, Needham, Stuart Wiltshire and Robbie Watts were involved in the place swapping too battling over fifth. In the end, Stutely came home to pick up his fourth win of the season, finishing ahead of Scott, Hamilton-Smith and Ussi. Dittmann came home in fifth just ahead of Harrison, Cliffe and James Abbott.             

Omicron Motorsport are the new leaders of the F3 Cup Teams Championship after opening up a 17 point lead over Mark Bailey Racing.    

The F3 Cup heads to the famous Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in six weeks time at the Lotus Festival on 18/19 August.

F3 Cup Snetterton Race 1 Result Top 10

1. Linton Stutely (Trophy) 11 laps
2. David Scott (Cup) +21.700s
3. Gino Ussi (Cup) +27.672s
4. Mark Harrison (Cup) +28.997s
5. Tristan Cliffe (Cup) +35.274s
6. Chris Needham (Cup) +41.259s
7. Stuart Wiltshire (Cup) +42.750s
8. James Abbott (Cup) +51.807s
9. Alf Skeels (Trophy) +52.837s
10. Prajesh Shah (Cup) +1.05.805s

F3 Cup Snetterton Race Two Result Top 10

1. Linton Stutely (Trophy) 12 laps
2. David Scott (Cup) +19.052s
3. Louis Hamilton-Smith (Cup) +30.503s
4. Gino Ussi (Cup) +35.904s
5. Chris Dittmann (Trophy) +38.155s
6. Mark Harrison (Cup) +40.843s
7. Tristan Cliffe (Cup) +41.493s
8. James Abbott (Cup) +45.704s
9. Stuart Wiltshire (Cup) +57.400s
10. Alf Skeels (Trophy) +1.07.546s

Drivers and teams interested in joining the 2012 F3 Cup should contact championship co-ordinator Simon Davey on 07770 368648, email f3cup@msvracing.co.uk. For all the latest news visit www.f3cup.co.uk. Follow F3 Cup on twitter at www.twitter.com/f3cup.