Last gasp Dittmann snatches Silverstone Shootout pole

12/05/2012 - Chris Dittmann came through an incredibly close qualifying session to snatch pole position in the dying minutes.

12/05/2012 - Chris Dittmann came through an incredibly close qualifying session to snatch pole position in the dying minutes for race five of the 2012 F3 Cup at the Silverstone National circuit.

The session provided excitement and intrigue right up until the chequerd flag with several drivers holding provisional pole. In the end less than a tenth of a second separated the top three as Dittmann snatched pole position from Donington Park winner Linton Stutely and Tristan Cliffe. However, Stutely was demoted to fourth after having his fastest time removed for exceeding track limits, promoting Cliffe to second and Louis Hamilton-Smith to third. Only a second covered the top 10 in what was a thrilling session.

The session began with disappointment for James Cross as he was forced out with an engine failure but the 25 remaining runners all ventured out on to the track in search of pole. Initially Mark Bailey Racing's Benjamin Harvey went quickest from Alf Skeels and Stuart Wiltshire as the field circulated the Silverstone National circuit early on. It wasn't long before the order changed with Nick Robinson topping the timesheets but a spin forced him out of the session.

Dittmann, Stutely, Cliffe, Gino Ussi and Jeremy Timms were all setting hot laps with only a few tenths between them in the top six. Dittmann soon lit up the timing screens to move into provisional pole with Stutely six tenths behind in second. Second position changed hands on three occasion with Cliffe, Harvey and Hamilton-Smith all holding the position as the session progressed with less than a tenth covering the top three. It was just as close in the midfield with Prajesh Shah and Tony Bishop enjoying a strong run out in the top 10.

Timms on his debut moved up to third briefly and Ussi also improved on his time as the clock ticked down. With just handful of minutes remaining the sesson came alive, as Cliffe topped the timesheets and he looked to have secured pole before last gasp efforts from Dittmann and Stutely snatched pole and second on the grid. However, track infringement penalties for both Stutley and Harvey saw the pair drop to fourth and 12th respictively on the grid.

In the end just 0.169 seconds covered the top three with Ussi, Timms, Mark Harrison, Robinson, David Scott and Dave Karaskas completing the top 10, which was separated by just 1.179 seconds.

Pole man Chris Dittmann said: "It was fantastic out there, it was very close which is great for the championship. I was very surprised to be honest I thought the Cup cars would have an advantage at this circuit but to come first overall is great and good for the team. It's going to be a mega race and it will be really close."

Second placed Tristan Cliffe said: "I gave it my best shot but it wasn't quite enough by 0.062 seconds. It was tough out there. I kept upping the pace and it was really close. I'm a little bit disappointed to miss out on pole. Anything could happen in the race, I didn't think it would be this close."

Third placed Louis Hamilton-Smith said: "It was ok we were on old tyres and the performance of the car is good. I think it looks pretty good for us in the race. I think its going to be a close thing in the race."

F3 Cup Qualifying Results

1. Chris Dittmann (Trophy) 53.626s
2. Tristan Cliffe (Cup) +0.062s
3. Louis Hamilton-Smith (Cup) +0.169s
4. Linton Stutely (Trophy), +0.303s 
5. Gino Ussi (Cup) +0.384s
6. Jeremy Timms (Trophy) +0.399s
7. Mark Harrison (Cup) +0.623s
8. Nick Robinson (Cup) +0.656s
9. David Scott (Cup) +1.095s
10. Dave Karaskas (Trophy) +1.179s
11. James Abbott (Cup) +1.282s
12. Benjamin Harvey (Cup) +1.328s
13. Alf Skeels (Trophy) +1.490s
14. Stuart Wiltshire (Cup) +1.551s
15. Tony Bishop (Cup) +1.667s
16. Prajesh Shah (Cup) +1.667s
17. Chris Needham (Cup) +1.703s
18. Neil Harrison (Cup) +2.194s 
19. Stephen Clegg (Trophy) +2.265s
20. Matt Payne (Cup) +3.035s
21. Richard Purcell (Trophy) +3.822s
22. James Ledamun (Masters) +4.394s
23. Philip Austin (Trophy) +4.574s
24. James Simons (Masters) +4.590s
25. Winston Graham (Trophy) +6.593s

The first F3 Cup race begins at 12:25pm on Sunday.