F3 Cup rolls into Silverstone for Shootout

11/05/2012 - The F3 Cup heads to Silverstone this weekend (12/13 May) for the next instalment of a fascinating quest to crown the first champion.

11/05/2012 - The F3 Cup heads to Silverstone this weekend (12/13 May) for the next instalment of what is a fascinating quest to crown the first F3 Cup champion, with the top three split by just 10 points.

The championship welcomes yet another bumper entry list with 26 drivers poised to tackle the fast and technical Silverstone National circuit in Northamptonshire, the biggest grid of the season so far. While Omicron Motorsport's Tristan Cliffe leads the championship standings, the F3 Cup welcomes six new faces to the grid for the 2012 season, in the shape of David Scott, Alf Skeels, Jeremy Timms, Richard Purcell, James Simons and Winston Graham.

After two meetings at Oulton Park and Donington Park dominated by challenging wet conditions, two dry races are predicted for the third round at Silverstone which could mix up the order. With very few dry sessions this season, it is hard to decipher just who will be on the pace and at the front.

Following two class victories at Donington Park two weeks ago, Cliffe leads the championship by just four points from Trophy Class runner Chris Dittmann despite two commanding outright wins for debutant Linton Stutely last time out. The Norwich racer is confident heading into the meeting and is eager to try and extend his championship lead.

He said: "I think I have to try and ignore that I'm leading the championship at this early stage and just focus on picking up points. Given the weather I'm feeling confident and I think we have a good car underneath us and in the dry it will play to our strengths. It's a short, wide and fast circuits so there isn't a lot of places to pass though."

Trophy Class runner and second in the championship Dittmann was one of the stars from Donignton at the last round and he believes his 2001 Dallara will be on the pace again at Silverstone.

He said: "I'm looking forward to it. It's going pretty well and fingers crossed for a good weekend. It's a really healthy grid for the weekend which is great for the championship. Testing went really well on Friday so we are ready to go."

Grays Motorsport driver Gino Ussi is another driver hoping the dry conditions will help him move further up the grid. The former Formula Palmer Audi driver showed signs of his potential at Donington with vists to the podium but this weekend he has his eyes set on outright victory.

He said: "The win is the target. First of all it is dry so that will be novel. It's a big grid on a small circuit so I think its going to be really tight. It's a weekend of banking points, this is a points weekend but clearly we are going to race."

The Cup Class could produce another thrilling battle with Chris Needham and Mark Harrison proven quick drivers and podium finishers this season looking to return to the front after disappointment at Donington. Mark Bailey Racing's Benjamin Harvey has topped the time sheets in the only dry session this season, so he is likely to feature at the front this weekend along with Louis Hamilton-Smith and James Abbott. The midfield battle is sure to fierce with Stuart Wiltshire, Nick Robinson, Tony Bishop and newcomer David Scott looking strong.

In the Trophy Class, a thrilling battle is expected with a selection of new names likely to make an impression on the championship and challenge for the outright victory. Stutely will once again be quick and after a sensational double win at Donington he will be keen to extend his winning run. Monoposto racers Richard Purcell and Jeremy Timms are likely to be on the pce in their F3 Cup season debuts with Timms a former Formula Renault champion. Also making their debuts are Alf Skeels, who has recovered from a broken hand and Winston Graham.

James Ledamun will face a new battle in the Masters Class with James Simons joining the championship in his Dallara F396.

Silverstone National Entry List

1 Chris Needham (Cup)
2 Mark Harrison (Cup)
3 Neil Harrison (Cup)
4 Stuart Wiltshire (Cup)
7 Tony Bishop (Cup)
9 Louis Hamilton-Smith (Cup)
10 Prajesh Shah (Cup)
14 Nick Robinson (Cup)
16 Gino Ussi (Cup)
21 David Scott (Cup)
23 James Cross (Cup)
24 Matt Payne (Cup)
27 Tristan Cliffe (Cup)
33 Benjamin Harvey (Cup)
74 James Abbott (Cup)
5 Alf Skeels (Trophy)
6 Stephen Clegg (Trophy)
8 Philip Austin (Trophy)
11 Chris Dittmann (Trophy)
19 Richard Purcell (Trophy)
20 Jeremy Timms (Trophy)
21 Winston Graham (Trophy)
58 Linton Stutely (Trophy)
77 Dave Karaskas (Trophy)
12 James Simons (Masters) 
17 James Ledamun (Masters)

Log on to www.f3cup.co.uk to follow all the reports and reaction from the third round of the championship at the Silverstone National circuit. Follow @f3cup on twitter for live text commentary from the races. Qualifying begins at 14.00pm on Saturday with both races taking place on Sunday.