Pole for Powell at soaked Rockingham

Alice Powell marked her return to F3 Cup with a pole at a damp and difficult round five at Rockingham Motor Speedway.

Alice Powell marked her return to F3 Cup with a pole for round five at a damp and difficult Rockingham Motor Speedway. The damp conditions caught out most as they pushed to find the limit.

Oliver Rae impressed during the 25-minute session to join Powell on the front row, beating championship leader Toby Sowery to second by over two-tenths. Louis Hamilton-Smith lines up fourth ahead of Omicron Motorsport pairing Mark Harrison and Tristan Cliffe.

Tony Bishop declared himself pleased with his seventh place and Lee Morgan spun out of qualifying at Chapman's Curve, ending the session in eighth. Nick Robinson lines up ninth.

The heavens opened just minutes before qualifying leaving everyone on a dry set-up, and it was the returning Powell at the head of the queue to begin the session. She used her recent experience of the track to set the pace for the opening 10 minutes until Trophy 01 Class runner Oliver Rae dipped into the 1m35s to move onto provisional pole.

Powell returned to the top as the session moved into the final 10 minutes, and Hamilton-Smith, having cured his recent misfire, moved to within one second of pole in third. Rae then went quicker still just as Lee Morgan disappeared into the gravel at Chapman's Curve.

Lanan Racing's Sowery spent much of the early exchanges in the pits as his team tweaked his setup and he then traded times with Cliffe over fourth until the stoppage.

When the session resumed, Powell was instantly on the pace and went back to the head of the timesheets by over 0.7s and doubled her cushion with her next lap.

Sowery moved into contention late on by demoting Hamilton-Smith to third and began to claw at the gap to Powell and Rae. He came up short by 0.255s of Rae and just over one second shy of Powell's pole time.

Powell said: "I just went out and gave it my best shot, the guys did a great job with the car. I like the wet anyway so I'm hoping it will be a wet weekend. We'll just have to wait and see."

Round five qualifying classification:

  1. Alice Powell - Gale Force Racing - 1:33.066
  2. Oliver Rae - Enigma Motorsport - +0.904s
  3. Toby Sowery - Lanan Racing - +1.159s
  4. Louis Hamilton-Smith - Jigsaw Engineeering - +2.202
  5. Mark Harrison - Omicron Motorsport - +2.592
  6. Tristan Cliffe - Omicron Motorsport - +3.021
  7. Tony Bishop - Chris Dittmann Racing - +3.289
  8. Lee Morgan - Grays Motorsport - +5.814
  9. Nick Robinson - Gale Force Racing - +8.802


Round five begins at 12:20 on Sunday. Follow @F3Cup on Twitter for live updates and like F3 Cup on Facebook.

Photo credit Jonathan Hatfield