Stanley stars as he grabs pole in F3 Cup qualifying

09/04/2012 - F3 Cup debutant Jamie Stanley used all of his local circuit knowledge to secure the first pole of the season.

09/04/2012 - F3 Cup debutant Jamie Stanley used all of his local circuit knowledge to come through treacherous conditions to grab pole position for the first F3 Cup race of the 2012 season.

With the 2.6 mile Cheshire circuit soaking wet after a early morning downpour, the 17 car F3 Cup field were given an extremely tough challenge for their first qualifying session of the season. However, it was Chester man Stanley, who dominated the session grabbing pole position by a comfortable 1.3 seconds.

Stanley, driving for Lanan Racing, was quick from the outset and he was the first man to post a time sub two minutes, while the rest of the field tried to get a handle of the conditions. Mark Bailey Racing's Benjamin Harvey briefly held second spot before he was demoted by Mark Harrison, who was growing with confidence after every lap.

The session was red flagged early on but once the session resumed it was Chris Needham who showed his hand moving up to second position, but no-one could touch Stanley. Harvey moved up to third fastest just ahead of Louis Hamilton-Smith, driving Aaron Steele's old car.

As the session progressed, the battle for second spot on the grid intensified with Harrison popping a time in to grab the position on the front row. In the end, Stanley held on to his pole position ahead of Harrison, but a late effort from reigning Monoposto 2000 champion Tristan Cliffe saw him move from sixth to third on the grid. He was joined on the second row by Hamilton-Smith.

Needham was fifith fastest ahead of Kat Impey, Harvey, James Abbott, Chris Dittmann and former ARP F3 Champion Gino ussi, who rounded out the top 10.

Pole man Jamie Stanley said:"It's not bad. I can't really complain because it is only the second time I've driven the car. The guys have done a great job preparing the car and the conditions were tricky so I was glad I got a good lap in early.

"I've been welcomed by everyone on the grid and it's great to be a part of the F3 Cup. It's not going to be an easy dash down to the first corner. I tried to climb the single seater ladder in my early career but budgets forced me out so its great to be back with Lanan and it would be great to bring back a trophy from the weekend."

Joining Stanley on the front row is Mark Harrison and he is looking forward to the race, he said, "It's a fantastic start to the new season. The car was good but I didn't really know what to expect in the wet conditions. It was pretty tough out there and visibility was poor, to a degree it was a bit of a lottery. I was pleased with how it went.

"I think its possible to challenge Jamie but he seems pretty formidable in the car. We have got a new set of tyres to bolt on the car and I know I can go quicker."

Pleased with his third place on the grid was Tristan Cliffe, he said: "It wasnt too bad. I would have liked to have been higher up but third is not bad. I like the wet it doesn't scare me or bother me. We will just have to wait and see what happens when the red lights go out. A podium is definitely the target and that would be a great start to the season."

The first race of the season begins at 13:20pm

F3 Cup Qualifying

1. J Stanley, 1:55.166
2. M Harrison, +1.341s
3. T Cliffe, +1.667s
4. L Hamilton-Smith, +2.971s
5. C Needham, +3.110s
6. K Impey, +3.594s
7. B Harvey, +3.620s
8. J Abbott, +5.532s
9. C Dittmann, +7.250s
10. G Ussi, +8.469s
11. P Shah, +12.621s
12. P Austin, +12.731s
13. S Clegg, +15.370s
14. S Wiltshire, +16.273s
15. J Cross, + 16.479s
16. T Bishop, +18.229s
17. D Karaskas, +19.932s