Craven cruises to dominant victory

A faultless performance by Lanan Racing’s Alex Craven secured the first win of the penultimate round of the season at Donington, underlining the pace he showed glimpses of in qualifying.

A faultless performance by Lanan Racing's Alex Craven secured the first win of the penultimate round of the season at Donington, underlining the pace he could only show glimpses of in qualifying.

Alice Powell held off Louis Hamilton-Smith in the closing stages to take second after Tristan Cliffe spun out, and Mark Harrison's run of good results continues with fourth. Dave Karaskas came out on top of a superb battle with Tony Bishop and Stuart Wiltshire to take fifth.

The race looked destined to be Craven's second win of the season almost as soon as the lights went out despite Powell appearing to have had the best start of the front three. Craven covered her look up the inside of Redgate to lead, and Cliffe slotted back in to third ahead of Louis Hamilton-Smith.

As Craven set off into the Donington Park distance, Cliffe was soon hounding the tail of Powell. The move finally came at the Melbourne Hairpin and he followed it up with the fastest lap of the race to put nearly 1.5 seconds between himslef and the championship leader. Disaster struck just a few laps later when he visited the same Coppice gravel that accounted for Powell's early finish to qualifying, handing her second once more.

That allowed Powell to focus solely on keeping Hamilton-Smith behind, which she did with some solid defence. When he couldn't find a way through to take a step up the rostrum, he instead turned his attentions to pole for race two. He dropped back and sent the timing screens purple to claim fastest lap and reel Powell in by over one second. A last lap move didn't materialise, but a ninth podium of the year was secure.

The fight for fourth looked to be going to any one of Harrison, Wiltshire, Karaskas and later Bishop but once Harrison found a way into what was then fifth he managed to build a comfortable cushion. When Cliffe fell, Harrison inherited fourth to add to his fourth and third from Snetterton. The place-changing behind didn't ease and Karaskas then managed to squeeze fifth from Mark Bailey Racing's Wiltshire's grasp. Bishop then followed Karaskas' lead to snatch sixth place.

Olly Rae had a mixed race, dropping back from that four-car battle but still securing second place in the Trophy Class. Nick Robinson stole eighth from Enigma's Aussie on the penultimate lap while Philip Austin claimed tenth and third in the Trpohy Class on his return to championship, beating Frank Thomas and Matt Payne.

But out front there was no doubting the winner, as Alex Craven took the flag by over six seconds to keep his title dreams very much alive.

Louis Hamilton-Smith's fastest lap means he'll start on pole for race two alongside Tristan Cliffe, and Alex Craven will be looking for another good start in third inside Alice Powell on row two.

Race two starts at 15:55, follow @F3Cup for live updates.