Sainz wins as Craven takes control

Carlos Sainz claimed a lights-to-flag victory ahead to deny his Carlin team-mate Antonio Felix Da Costa a hat-trick of Snetterton F3 Cup wins.

Carlos Sainz claimed a lights-to-flag victory to deny his Carlin team-mate Antonio Felix Da Costa a hat-trick of Snetterton F3 Cup wins.

Esteban Ocon took third on the road from the invitational class, quickly getting up to speed and ahead of the fast-starting Alex Craven and Tristan Cliffe.

Craven beat his Lanan Racing team-mate off the line and began the chase to championship rival Cliffe, at the same time under pressure from Ocon. Ocon soon picked off Craven and Cliffe soon followed to leave Craven chasing Cliffe once more.

As they battled, the impressive Henry Chart closed. His pressure forced Craven to change his attentions from Cliffe to Chart, and he resisted some stern tests from the Enigma Motorsport racer. After a close call when Chart was "glad Alex saw" him coming, he backed off to avoid affecting the championship.

Mark Harrison drove a brilliant defensive race to keep the third championship protagonist, Alice Powell, behind him in fourth in class. Like Chart she had a few looks down the inside of Riches, but no move materialised and took Cup class fifth.

Gino Ussi claimed a top 10 finish and class top six ahead of Olly Rae. Both closed quickly on Powell in the latter stages but couldn't find a way through. Tony Bishop survived an early spin to take 12th ahead of Thomas and behind Robinson.

The result puts Craven in the driving seat for the championship, 10 points clear with just one race to go. Craven will drop three points as dropped scores, reducing the gap to seven points. Cliffe had to take maximum points from the race, which he succeeded in doing, but Craven's 27 point haul effectively eliminates him from the title fight.

If Powell wins race two, she will require Craven to finish outside of the podium places.

Tristan Cliffe took fastest lap in class to claim pole for Sunday's race two alongside Henry Chart behind Carlos Sainz jr, Antonio Felix Da Costea and Esteban Ocon.

Race one of round nine classification

1. Carlos Sainz jr  (Invitational class) - 12 laps
2. Antonio Felix Da Costa (Invitational class) - +0.859
3. Esteban Ocon (Invitational class) - +32.733
4. Tristan Cliffe - +45.341
5. Alex Craven - +49.530
6. Henry Chart - +1:00.694
7. Mark Harrison - +1:07.499
8. Alice Powell - +1:07.743
9. Gino Ussi - +1:08.168
10. Olly Rae - +1:09.719
11. Nick Robinson - +1:37.475
12. Tony Bishop - +1 lap
13. Frank Thomas - +1 lap

Race two starts at 1340 on Sunday. Follow @F3Cup for updates.