Sebastiani Shines at Snetterton
F3 Cup arrived at Snetterton today ahead of three races for the Championship this weekend
F3 Cup arrived at Snetterton today ahead of three races for the Championship this weekend. 2017 has seen a big upturn in popularity shown by much improved grid sizes, a trend that continues this weekend, as 15 cars took part in qualifying.
In cloudy but warm and dry conditions the drivers made the most of the 15 minutes to get their perfect lap, however two red flags certainly added some pressure to proceedings. Phillip Jeans unfortunately lost control after getting a wheel on the grass heading down the Bentley Straight, which caused irreparable damage to the rear of the car. This gave the drivers a short shoot out period with Championship leader Jacopo Sebastiani setting the early pace by over a second, ahead of second place - on track and in the championship standings - Shane Kelly. The University of Wolverhampton team had clearly given Kelly a good setup as lap after lap he chipped away at Sebastiani's time. Third to seventh placed swapped regularly as the cars of Wade Eastwood, George Line, Tony Bishop, Stuart Wiltshire and Robbie Watts battled tenth by tenth.
In the end Kelly improved enough to go quickest on his final lap, only to be immediately displaced at the top by Sebastiani as he claimed his first pole of 2017 (the on track action mirroring the Championship battle perfectly). Robbie Watts' lap final lap was enough to get him third position, and Stuart Wiltshire, switching to his trusty F308 this weekend, managed fourth.
Tony Bishop managed fifth position, with 2016 Champion George Line in sixth. Wade Eastwood will be disappointed with seventh after his recent run of form; Gino Ussi was eighth followed by current third place in the championship man, Cian Carey. The rest of the grid rounded up with 10th for Mark Harrison, 11th, newcomer Oliver Sirrell, 12th for Dave Gillett, 13th for Richard Purcell, 14th from F3 Cup debutant Baptiste Leonard, and Phillip Jeans did not set a time after his incident.
The first race started well for Sebastiani who maintained his position however Kelly could not match his start and dropped down to fourth. Stuart Wiltshire was the big winner from the start, jumping up to second. From here, the fun really started and after Kelly passed Watts to claim third the top three were caught in the middle of a race-long game of chess, with Wiltshire regularly swapping from attacking for the lead to defending his position from Kelly behind. In the end however neither driver could make the decisive move, or more likely, neither driver wanted to risk their car in only the first race.
Sebastiani turned his first pole into his first win of 2017 to extend his lead at the top of the Championship. Stuart Wiltshire will be delighted with his second place after recent results and will be sure to put pressure on for that race win. Shane Kelly will be disappointed with his third place, but after a good recovery drive, he will be thinking about the long game and pushing on tomorrow.
Rounds 13 and 14 are scheduled for 10:35 and 13:30 on Sunday so be sure to head to www.F3Cup.co.uk/LIVE for race updates.