Carey claims elusive win in penultimate race
Irishman Cian Carey enjoyed his first F3 Cup victory at Oulton Park this afternoon
The drizzle arrived at Oulton Park just in time for F3 Cup's first race of the day to be declared wet, permitting the drivers to use the Pirelli wet tyres if they chose. Although no-one made the switch pre-race, the conditions would prove to be a decisive factor in the race. Going into this round, Jacopo Sebastiani held a slim 17 point lead in the championship standings after dropped scores were taken into account, meaning the title was very much up for grabs.
When the lights went out, Sebastiani couldn't get his car off the line fast enough and team mate Wade Eastwood shot into the lead, with Cian Carey slotting into second place. Sebastiani wasted no time applying the pressure to Carey though, challenging for second as his key rival Kelly followed in fourth place.
Robbie Watts and Stuart Wiltshire were soon able to get past Kelly as well, making the UWR driver's job even harder. Eastwood found himself running wide as the conditions deteriorated, and was forced to retire to the pits after he rejoined the track, bringing his race to a premature end.
An exciting battle developed between Jonathon Hughes, George Line and Tony Bishop for sixth place, but Line and Bishop soon elected to pit and swap to the wet tyres. This move was wise - as the race progressed they lapped so much faster than the slick-shod cars, they found Hughes again to continue the tussle!
Meanwhile, championship challenger Kelly struck misfortune which would ultimately end his title hopes - leaving the circuit and becoming stuck, his race was over.
At the front, Carey worked to establish a comfortable lead, as Wiltshire showed his strong pace, first working his way up to third before challenging Sebastiani for second. He gained the position, but was unable to hold on to it as his team mate passed him back.
Towards the end of the race, the cars on wet tyres were lapping up to six seconds quicker than the dry tyres, though a rapidly drying track meant Line and Bishop didn't have enough time to challenge the front runners.
As the chequered flag fell, Carey claimed his maiden win in the championship, ahead of Sebastiani and Wiltshire.
Speaking after, Carey commented, "Once we got to half way through it felt like the longest race ever! I saw Jacopo and Stuart coming at me and I wasn't sure if they were on the wet tyres so I was panicking a bit the last few laps, but finally that win has come!"