Watts secures pole but Eastwood takes the win
F3 Cup arrived at the challenging Silverstone National circuit for three races this weekend (3//4 June) with 16 cars slated for action
(03.06.17) F3 Cup arrived at the shorter, but no less challenging, Silverstone National circuit for three races this weekend (3//4 June). 16 cars were slated to be in action, including the returning Wade Eastwood, who showed great promise in the championship last year when work commitments allowed, and Jeremy Timms who returns to F3 Cup for the first time since 2012. Timms, a Monoposto regular, has acquired a Dallara F308 and will be one to watch this year, bringing with him extensive single seater racing experience.
Qualifying took place in warm, sunny conditions and the drivers wasted no time getting down to business immediately posting some quick laptimes. Robbie Watts, Jacopo Sebastiani and Eastwood were the first to top the table, with just a few tenths of a second separating them.
As the times began to fall, the mid-pack quickly closed in on the leaders, with current Championship leader Shane Kelly moving up to fourth ahead of Cian Carey, Tony Bishop and reigning champion George Line. In the closing stages of the session, Sebastiani and Watts continued to trade times, but ultimately Watts would post a scorching penultimate lap to take the pole position spot, and the chequered flag fell with less than one second separating over half the grid.
The weekend's first race got underway with increasingly cloudy skies setting the tone as the lights went out. A staller on the grid caused confusion and as the pack emerged from Copse towards the Maggots/Becketts complex Shane Kelly, Stuart Wiltshire and Gino Ussi were nowhere to be seen. As the Safety Car was deployed to recover their cars from the first corner, Robbie Watts lead the pack for a few laps.
When racing resumed, Watts found himself immediately under pressure from Sebastiani, who in turn was under attack from the rapid Eastwood. Within two laps Sebastiani was in a position to challenge Watts for the lead, but he couldn't make the move stick and ultimately found himself losing a place to Eastwood.
The CF Racing driver wasn't content with second however, and the rapid turn of speed he produced saw him take the lead from Watts on a lap which also saw him post the fastest lap of the race. In the mid-pack, Cian Carey and George Line enjoyed a close battle, while Dave Gillett and James Heffernan both made good progress through the pack after troubled starts.
Eastwood's time wouldn't stand for long however, as the charging Sebastiani took aim for Watts once more on the final lap, setting an even faster time but failing to secure that second place on the podium.
Speaking afterwards, race winner Eastwood said, "Massive thanks to the team CF Racing for setting up the car. They made a few little tweaks and that really helps. The car was amazing, it felt just beautiful - balanced and perfect. I'm really happy to have Jacopo up here too, he's been a massive help to me this season and last season, he's a good friend, and to share with Robbie too is just great."
F3 Cup is back in action tomorrow (4 June) with two more races on the Silverstone National circuit at 11:15 (15 minutes) and 15:30 (20 minutes). Live updates will be available at www.twitter.com/F3Cup