Frantic Donington Finale Provides Hat-Trick for Kelly and UWR
F3 Cup’s final race of the weekend at Donington Park was the 20 minute feature race, and provided a thrilling conclusion to the opening weekend of the 2016 championship.
F3 Cup's final race of the weekend at Donington Park was the twenty minute feature race, and provided a thrilling conclusion to the opening weekend of the 2016 championship.
Despite a light rain shower earlier in the afternoon, and under increasingly overcast skies, the drivers took to the grid for the race start on dry tarmac. As the lights went out, Shane Kelly made a much better start than in the previous races, and found himself swapping positions for the lead with Daryl Jones throughout the first lap. By the time the pair came back round to complete the first lap Kelly was looking comfortable in the lead, although still defending from Jones. Unfortunately the Team Fox driver was forced into retirement on the second lap, leaving Kelly to extend his lead.
Further back, Stuart Wiltshire had a disastrous start, stalling the car which left him last and with a sizeable gap to redress. He set about catching the pack though and within a few laps was mid-field. George Line moved up into second place, followed by Jacopo Sebastiani and Tony Bishop. Omicron Motorsport's Sebastiani was flying however, having firmly put any issues from earlier in the weekend to rest, and managed to pass Line to take second place. Mark Harrison, another driver enjoying a better run in his third race, managed to pass Tony Bishop to take fourth, and newcomer James Heffernan was quick to also to take the fight to Bishop for position.
The order settled briefly around the halfway point of the race, with Sebastiani setting the fastest lap to that point as he chased the leader. Kelly quickly responded however, maximising the clean air in front of him to drop his lap times into the 1:04 zone. A few laps later disaster struck for Sebastiani; a spin at Roberts landed him on the grass, cooling and wetting his tyres to such an extent that he struggled for grip through the Craner Curves on the next lap, running wide and colliding with the barriers. He escaped unharmed but his Dallara was not so lucky and will require some attention from the Omicron squad before the next round at Brands Hatch.
Sebastiani's dramas allowed Line and Harrison to move up the order, the two swapping positions until Line was forced to retire to the pit lane with suspected electrical problems. Wiltshire meanwhile had been working his way back up the order and found himself in third place. His position was far from safe however, as Heffernan continued to challenge him with Daniel Tapinos in pursuit as well.
By the last lap Kelly had made the most of the dramas unfolding behind him to extend his lead to some thirty seconds and Harrison had to settle for the second spot on the podium. The fight for third continued right up to the chequered flag, where Tapinos managed to come out on top of the trio, with Wiltshire fourth and Heffernan fifth. Malcolm Scott brought his Chris Dittmann Racing Dallara home in sixth, followed by Bishop, James Ledamun and Geoffrey Hoodless.
Heffernan's exceptional drive in the third race earned him the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend award, with the IWI Watches Fastest Lap Award going to Shane Kelly for his 1:02.856 in race two.
F3 Cup returns to action at Brands Hatch, on the tight Indy circuit, on 14-15 May.
F3 Cup, Donington Park Race Three (24 April 2016)
- Shane Kelly - Dallara F308 - 18 laps
- Mark Harrison - Dallara F305 +32.210
- Daniel Tapinos - Dallara F311 +53.535
- Stuart Wiltshire - Dallara F308 +54.451
- James Heffernan - Dallara F308 +54.579
- Malcolm Scott - Dallara F306 +1:09.929
- Tony Bishop - Dallara F310 +1 lap
- James Ledamun - Dallara F300 +2 laps
- Geoffrey Hoodless - March 813 +3 laps
- George Line - Dallara F308 DNF
- Jacopo Sebastiani - Dallara F311 DNF
- Daryl Jones - Dallara F308 DNF
- Richard Purcell - Dallara F308 DNS
- Matt Payne - Dallara F305 DNS