F3 Cup heads for second Silverstone trip
After three weeks off, Silverstone awaits for the next round of F3 Cup and its second hosting of 2013.
After three weeks off, Silverstone awaits for the next round of F3 Cup and its second hosting of 2013. Round six begins the second half of the season, and it is by no means a certainty who will head to round seven at Snetterton with a win or two in their back pocket.
Tristan Cliffe brings two wins with him from Brands Hatch and round five, doing so in some style from Louis Hamilton-Smith to close to within 35 points of the leaders. Conditions were tricky in race one after a brief but heavy downpour as the cars made their way to the grid and once wet tyres had been fitted, Cliffe managed the start and held off Hamilton-Smith to win from pole. Championship leader Alice Powell came home third ahead of rival Alex Craven of Lanan Racing, who was handed fourth when the Henry Chart and Robbie Watts fight ended with them both swapping ends.
Race two allowed Cliffe to show off his dry pace again, which he did impressively by setting a new lap record. Louis Hamilton-Smith held off the charging Alex Craven, who survived calls of a jump start after getting up into third from seventh on the grid. Powell shadowed them both in her Mark Bailey Racing Dallara expecting to be promoted to third, but a successful appeal meant the championship's top two left Brands Hatch in the same way they entered it: eight points apart.
The first trip to Silverstone in April was the first time Cliffe had driven his new Dallara and acclimatised sufficiently to finish with a sixth and a fifth. Despite the Omicron car now being bedded in and Cliffe finding race-winning pace, Powell and Craven will still have the confidence of more Northamptonshire miles under their belts to call on to reply to his Brands Hatch dominance.
Not to be discounted, Enigma Motorsport's Henry Chart took his first win of the season at Silverstone back in April, beating Powell in race one before a blown engine stopped his charge in race two. The ripples of that blown engine are only now subsiding, leaving him out of the title race but still with a big part to play in where the title goes. He will feature heavily at the front and deny the championship challengers valuable points, and Eyehub F3's Hamilton-Smith will no doubt do likewise. Brackley's Hamilton-Smith has ended up on the podium in every race he's finished this season, and taken six podiums from six from Silverstone over the past three years.
The midfield pack by no means leave the close racing to be done at the front, and Silverstone's expansive and high-speed corners should be a thrilling battleground. Olly Rae is expected to return in the Trophy 01 Class much to Dave Karaskas' delight and Chris Headlam has taken a shine to open wheelers after his Brands Hatch GP debut, returning to try and add to his race two top six finish.
James Cross returned at Brands Hatch, beaming grin in tow, and was straight back into the fight with Neil and Mark Harrison, Karaskas and co. Tony Bishop's racing again after making a return at Brands Hatch while Nick Robinson and Frank Thomas will be looking to supplement Powell's points for Mark Bailey Racing by coming out on top of the big midfield bunch.
F3 Cup races twice this weekend on the Silverstone GP circuit. Qualifying begins on Saturday at 12:10 ahead of race one at 15:50. Race two's grid is determined by fastest laps from race one, with the lights going out at 15:05.
Follow @F3Cup to keep up with all the action. Live timing will be available throughout the weekend from TSL.
Admission costs £10 each day, with children 15 years and under getting free.