Dittmann moves into pole position to become inaugural F3 Cup champion
Chris Dittmann is in pole position to become the inaugural F3 Cup champion after two class wins at Silverstone GP last weekend (21/22 September)
26/09/12 - Chris Dittmann is in pole position to become the inaugural F3 Cup champion after two class wins at Silverstone GP last weekend (21/22 September) gave him the championship lead ahead of the final round next month.
Guest drivers Kourosh Khani and Jay Bridger were the stars of the meeting with Khani picking up his third and fourth wins of the season whilst former British F3 National Class champion Bridger claimed two second place finishes on debut. While the pair dominated, the championship battle took another twist with Dittmann coming to the fore in his rebuilt Trophy Class Dallara to take a 25.5 point lead from Tristan Cliffe in the standings.
New championship leader Dittmann said: "The team did a fantastic job to get the car back out again after the engine troubles last time out at Anglesey, so I'm really pleased to be in the lead of the championship. I've got to keep pushing so I can't sit back too quickly yet I still need to bag some good points. The Teams Championship is still up for grabs too and Prajesh (Shah) is doing brilliantly on that front bringing home a good haul of points regularly."
With the 20 strong F3 Cup grid joined by the Monoposto Championship cars, Friday's qualifying session proved to be full of intrigue resulting in a thrilling climax. Silverstone National race winner Louis Hamilton-Smith and Dittmann set the initial pace in the early stages but it soon developed into a battle between Bridger and Khani. The former British F3 star struck first lighting up the timing screens in his Omicron Motorsport Dallara. It didn't take long for Khani to respond and the halfway point his became the first drive to post a lap in the two minute window. It seemed as though he would claim pole position only for a last gasp effort from Bridger saw him snatch pole by 0.181 seconds. Hamilton-Smith was third ahead of title challengers Gino Ussi, Dittmann and Tristan Cliffe.
Khani managed to get the jump on Bridger at the start and he led the field as they streamed around Copse for the first time. Hamilton-Smith slotted in behind in third with Ussi fourth. Dittmann dropped behind the fast starting Chris Needham in fifth but he soon recovered the lost ground. However, a misfire plagued Cliffe's race which started poorly by falling to 12th from sixth on the grid. Cliffe managed to recover to finish ninth, but nobody could catch Khani at the front as he took the chequered flag from Bridger, Hamilton-Smith and Ussi. Dittmann's fifth pace was enough to secure the Trophy Class win and pushed him into the championship lead. Needham just held off a hard charging Shah for sixth while Nick Robinson came home in eighth.
Saturday's second race saw Bridger avenge his start to race one to overcome pole sitter Khani at Copse. Despite Bridger's wealth of F3 experience he was unable to keep Khani behind and the Lanan Racing driver came through to lead the opening lap. Hamilton-Smith held third with Ussi fourth and Dittmann sixth, while Stuart Wiltshire made an impressive start to pass Cliffe moving into sixth. But Wiltshire was unable to maintain the momentum as a mistake saw him fall down the order allowing Cliffe back into sixth. At the front Bridger continued to apply pressure on Khani and he managed to close the gap down to just eight tenths of a second through the traffic. Unperturbed by the mounting pressure, Khani kept pushing and went on to claim his fourth win of the season, followed home by Bridger and Hamilton-Smith. Ussi was fourth ahead of Cliffe, who passed Dittmann in the dying moments for fifth.
While Khani took the top honours, Silverstone's results elevated Dittmann into the championship lead with a 25.5 point lead from Cliffe. Ussi is still in with a shout of claiming the crown four points further back. With 50 points still up for grabs the quest to become the first F3 Cup champion will go down to the wire at the final meeting of the year at Snetterton 300 on 27/28 October.
F3 Cup Silverstone GP Race 1 Top 10
1. Kourosh Khani Cup Lanan Racing 10 laps
2. Jay Bridger Cup Omicron Motorsport, +12.659s
3. Louis Hamilton-Smith Cup +15.350s
4. Gino Ussi Cup Grays Motorsport, +27.853s
5. Chris Dittmann Trophy Chris Dittmann Racing, +31.785s
6. Chris Needham Cup DST Group Ltd, +43.033s
7. Prajesh Shah Cup Chris Dittmann Racing, +43.257s
8. Nick Robinson Cup Mark Bailey Racing, +46.717s
9. Tristan Cliffe Cup Omicron Motorsport, +46.880s
10. Mark Harrison, Cup, Magic Motorsport, +53.108s
F3 Cup Silverstone GP Race 2 Top 10
1. Kourosh Khani Cup Lanan Racing 10 laps
2. Jay Bridger Cup Omicron Motorsport, +4.761s
3. Louis Hamilton-Smith Cup +11.275s
4. Gino Ussi Cup Grays Motorsport, +12.685s
5. Tristan Cliffe Cup Omicron Motorsport, +19.930s
6. Chris Dittmann Trophy Chris Dittmann Racing, +24.759s
7. Prajesh Shah Cup Chris Dittmann Racing, +37.488s
8. Chris Needham Cup DST Group Ltd, +51.897s
9. Mark Harrison, Cup, Magic Motorsport, +1.01.735s
10. Nick Robinson Cup Mark Bailey Racing, +1.03.631s