Cliffe's pole keeps his eyes on title spot

Cup Class poleman Tristan Cliffe kept alive his championship hopes ahead of the opening race of the final round.

Cup Class poleman Tristan Cliffe kept alive his championship hopes ahead of the opening race of the final round.

Alex Craven appeared to have wrapped up the class pole as he disappeared into the pits but the Mulbarton racer stayed out despite the track slowing, and was rewarded with pole.

It was as early as turn one when he knew was set for a good lap. "The last lap I went into Riches and normally I brake a reasonable amount but, while my brain won't allow me not to brake, my foot went across to the pedal and that was about it. It was the quickest I've been through there by a long way.

"It might have only saved me a tenth or two but it meant the track was back so I just kept pushing, got the tyre temperatures right and the lap was there. Otherwise I would have been languishing down in fifth or something." Cliffe said.

The Omicron driver will line up alongside Lotus F1 protégé Esteban Ocon on row two, behind Carlin's Red Bull juniors Carlos Sainz, jr. and Antonio Felix Da Costa running in the invitational class. But Cliffe insists he isn't focusing on Ocon. 

"I suspect Esteban will beat me at the start and he'll have a quicker first lap. He's probably quicker on race pace, I may have been quicker by a tenth or something but the track was perfect then. He'll be quicker than me consistently.

"I specifically slowed so they would catch me and I could follow them. I tried to, Sainz was a lot quicker through Riches and about the same for the next few corners but he went off at one point. Mostly it's the guy behind the wheel."

In championship terms, both championship leader Alex Craven and Cliffe were buoyed by the impressive performances of Henry Chart and Mark Harrison, who beat Alice Powell to leave the ex-GP3 racer with an eighth place gridslot.

Cliffe added "It was a fantastic effort from Mark and Henry to out-qualify her. We're pretty pleased. I got my point which helps, otherwise they need to finish seventh and seventh rather than sixth and sixth."

The extra point keeps Cliffe in the title hunt, but with championship leader Craven starting second in class it could be a tall order.

Race one starts at 1630. Follow @F3Cup for live updates and click here for live timing from Snetterton.