Brands Hatch GP draws biggest grid of the year
This weekend’s rounds 11 and 12 of the 2014 F3 Cup season could be the most important yet as Sunday could see the new champion crowned.
This weekend's rounds 11 and 12 of the 2014 F3 Cup season should see the biggest grid of the season with debuts for Jacopo Sebastiani and Geoffrey Hoodless. The task remains the same for the expanded grid: beat champion-elect Toby Sowery.
Eight of this season's races have been won by rookie racer Sowery, who's in his first year in cars. Two more victories will see him all but secure the championship. If he picks up two of the three extra points on offer for pole or either fastest lap in the race, the title will be his and Lanan Racing will have taken two drivers to the title in as many years.
F3 Cup regular Tristan Cliffe, who's finished in the top three in the two seasons since the series became a championship in 2012, is his nearest challenger with seven second-places to his name. He will need to beat Sowery for the first time this year to keep his faint title hopes alive. The leading pair will have to contend with Henry Chart, though, who but for a couple of spins could have picked up a brace of wins at Oulton Park's soaked rounds a month ago. That weekend was his first in his new car, and he will be expected to go even quicker here.
Oliver Rae, Chart's Enigma Motorsport team-mate, has impressed this year too running in a Trophy 01 Class car, regularly fighting for outright podiums with the Cup 07 Class cars. The Masters 97 Class has its first entrant of the year this weekend, Geoffrey Hoodless, who will be piloting an evocative March 813.
Another newcomer this weekend is Jacopo Sebastiani, who has joined the Cliffe family-run Omicron Motorsport and will race the Dallara F307 that Cliffe so nearly won the title with in 2012. Sebastiani takes the Norfolk squad's roster to three, with Cliffe's ultra-consistent, multiple-Monoposto title winning team-mate Mark Harrison also in action.
Louis Hamilton-Smith will be fighting for wins this weekend as he searches for a return to the top step for the first time since 2012. He finished runner-up to Cliffe twice here on the Grand Prix circuit in 2013 and could well end his win drought. Lee Morgan has adjusted well to F3 since dominating the Formula Jedi championship last year and is chasing more podiums.
Gale Force Racing team-mates Nick Robinson and Stuart Wiltshire were among a four-car fight at Oulton Park that also included Trophy Class runner Jonathan Weston-Taylor and Oliver Stirling, who is absent this weekend. Robinson beat Wiltshire for the first time in 2014 in the second race in Cheshire to claim a top-six finish and will be looking to now kick on. Wiltshire's season has included a first-ever class podium in the championship, at the season opener at Snetterton, and he'll be aiming to match last year's Grand Prix round result of sixth place this weekend.