Qualifying dramas lead to strong race performances at Brands Hatch
Day two at Brands Hatch provided a clean slate for the F3 Cup competitors, with a fresh qualifying session to determine the grid for the day’s race.
Day two at Brands Hatch provided a clean slate for the F3 Cup competitors, with a fresh qualifying session to determine the grid for the day's race. The weather remained dry, though very overcast in contrast to Saturday's sunshine.
Omicron Motorsport's Jacopo Sebastiani led the field out of the Pit Lane for the first session, and set the pace early on as Saturday's quickest drivers worked their way through the traffic behind him. It didn't take long for Zach Claman de Melo to settle into the groove though, and after five laps he had set the target for chasers Aaron Steele and Stuart Wiltshire to aim for - a 1:21.500. Saturday's Cup Class pole-sitter Louis Hamilton-Smith wasn't far behind though, and found some clear space on track to post the third quickest time. Shortly after that Stuart Wiltshire and Graham Read made contact at Druids, as the Chris Dittmann Racing driver attempted to overtake newcomer Read around the outside. The incident unfortunately put Wiltshire into the gravel with rear suspension damage, and due to the position of the car Race Control deployed the Safety Car while the Dallara was recovered. This neutralised the session, with Claman de Melo leading Steele, Hamilton-Smith, the now retired Wiltshire, Sebastiani, Chart, Tapinos, Adrian Holey, Read and Geoffrey Hoodless.
Once the Safety Car returned to the pit lane, Hamilton-Smith wasted no time in putting his foot down, moving himself up to second place. Henry Chart, keen to capitalise on his Enigma Motorsport Dallara's performance after a DNF on Saturday, followed suit moving up to fourth place behind Steele. As the chequered flag fell however, Steele was on top form, posting a superb final lap to leapfrog Hamilton-Smith and claim the Cup Class pole position.
As the cars collected in the Assembly Area for the afternoon's race, the very dark skies were brightened somewhat by a RAF Red Arrows fly-past. Despite the looming clouds, everyone elected to stay on the Pirelli slick tyres. As the red lights went out, Claman de Melo made a fantastic start, launching himself towards Paddock Hill bend as the following pack bunched up behind him. Stuart Wiltshire had to start from the Pit Lane as his team had taken every possible second to repair the qualifying damage to his Dallara, but set about working his way through the field. At the front Steele, Hamilton-Smith and Chart fought for the class lead, but as they came up on back markers within a few laps they began to spread out through the traffic. Hamilton-Smith refused to let up however, the disappointment of Saturday's DNF no doubt spurring him on, and he began to close the gap to Steele again. The race settled into a rhythm and the order stayed fairly constant from there, aside from a spin for Daniel Tapinos at Clearways. As Claman de Melo took the chequered flag, Steele led home Hamilton-Smith and Chart, both enjoying much better performances than the previous day. Sebastiani brought his car home in fifth place ahead of Tapinos, with Holey's Trophy Class car, Read and Wiltshire completing the line-up.
The IWI Fastest Lap award was presented to Zach Claman de Melo, the best time posted in the second race of the weekend. The Sunoco Driver of the Weekend trophy was awarded to Henry Chart for a focussed drive in Sunday's race to secure valuable championship points.
F3 Cup returns on 12/13 September, for the final round of the year at Silverstone on the full Grand Prix circuit.
F3 Cup - Brands Hatch GP, 15/16 August - Qualifying Two results
- Zach Claman de Melo (Inv) - Dallara F308 - 1:20.121
- Aaron Steele (Cup) - Dallara F307 - 1:21.870
- Louis Hamilton-Smith (Cup) - Dallara F307 - 1:22.044
- Henry Chart (Cup) - Dallara F305 - 1:23.925
- Jacopo Sebastiani (Cup) - Dallara F311 - 1:24.363
- Stuart Wiltshire (Cup) - Dallara F308 - 1:24.943
- Daniel Tapinos (Cup) - Dallara F311 - 1:25.500
- Adrian Holey (Trophy) - Dallara F300 - 1:28.569
- Graham Read (Inv) - Dallara F306 - 1:33.156
- Geoffrey Hoodless (Inv) - Ralt RT1 - 1:38.253
F3 Cup - Brands Hatch GP, 15/16 August - Race Two results
- Zach Claman de Melo (Inv) - Dallara F308 - 11 laps
- Aaron Steele (Cup) - Dallara F307 + 20.400
- Louis Hamilton-Smith (Cup) - Dallara F307 +24.697
- Henry Chart (Cup) - Dallara F305 +34.797
- Jacopo Sebastiani (Cup) - Dallara F311 - +44.608
- Daniel Tapinos (Cup) - Dallara F311 +56.836
- Adrian Holey (Trophy) - Dallara F300 +1:26.900
- Graham Read (Inv) - Dallara F306 +1 lap
- Stuart Wiltshire (Cup) - Dallara F308 +2 laps
- Geoffrey Hoodless (Inv) - Ralt RT1 - DNS
Full weekend results are available here