Battles in Belgium tighten championship standings
Race 8 of the 2013 F3 Cup championship brought this season’s European round to a thrilling close.
Under sunny skies at Circuit Zolder, Race 8 of the 2013 F3 Cup championship brought this season's European round to a thrilling close with unexpected twists and battles throughout the grid.
Tristan Cliffe started the race on pole position after setting the fastest time in Saturday's (29 June) race but was unable to hold on to the lead for long as the chasing Alex Craven pulled alongside on the start/finish line at the end of the first lap. He completed his move at Turn 1 and slowly began to edge away from Cliffe. Behind them, Alice Powell was keen to put the weekend's mechanical gremlins behind her and was hunting down the leading two from her third place grid slot. By the end of the second lap, the top three had pulled a clear ten second gap from the rest of the field.
On lap 5, Cliffe ran wide on to the kerbs at Turn 5, throwing the car into the air. The landing damaged the rear suspension on his Dallara F307, as well as injuring Cliffe himself, but he continued racing in spite of the pain. As a result however he was unable to hold off Buckinghamshire racer Henry Chart and slipped to fourth place. Chart, who was enjoying a good run despite ongoing mechanical issues, maintained the position to finish on the podium, collecting valuable championship points for both himself and his team Enigma Motorsport.
In the second instalment of their battle this weekend Dave Karaskas, Nick Robinson and Frank Thomas enjoyed a great tussle for most of the race, trading positions and lap times throughout. Karaskas commented, "Great circuit, I really enjoyed it. Lost two places during race two and then got them both back. I was laughing all the way round the slowing down lap (proof of a good race)."
Lap 11 saw an error from Craven at Turn 3, forcing him into the gravel trap. Despite managing to keep the car going and returning it to the track, he lost vital seconds and the charging Powell took full advantage, heading past to take the lead. The race finished with the three distinct battles of Powell/Craven, Chart/Cliffe and Karaskas/Robinson/Thomas with the drivers classifying in that order. Cliffe's fastest lap from Saturday's race was unbeaten, so it was he who took home the IWI Watches Fastest Lap Award.
The championship returns to the UK and reaches its halfway point with rounds 9 and 10 at Brands Hatch GP on 27/28 July. Another ex-F1 circuit, the GP configuration is a favourite amongst the F3 Cup drivers and should provide another great weekend's racing.
F3 Cup Rounds 7 & 8 - Zolder, 29-30 June 2013
- Alice Powell, Dallara F307 Toyota Piedrafita 13 laps
- Alex Craven, Dallara F307 Volkswagen +4.851
- Henry Chart, Dallara F302 Mugen Honda +18.560
- Tristan Cliffe, Dallara F307 Mugen Honda + 21.166
- Dave Karaskas, Dallara F301 Opel Speiss +1:11.039
- Nick Robinson, Dallara F302 Mugen Honda +1:12.868
- Frank Thomas, Dallara F305/6 Toyota +1:13.627
Full results from the weekend are available here