The Champ is back!
Reigning champion Cian Carey reasserted his authority this afternoon, claiming the first victory of 2019.
2018 F3 Cup Champion Cian Carey claimed the top step of the podium in the opening race of the 2019 season, launching his title defence in fine style.
Cool air and a sunny April afternoon offered the F3 Cup grid the perfect conditions for quick times around this fast, flowing circuit. When the red lights went out, both Stefano Leaney and Kelly struggled to get their cars away and Cian Carey behind was quick to capitalise, leading the pack into the first corner.
By the end of the first lap, Leaney had made up the gap and was looking to pass Carey to regain the lead. Braking very late into Redgate on lap two he succeeded, with Kelly, George Line and Tony Bishop completing the top five.
Jonathon Hughes suffered a spin on the second lap, costing him valuable positions. Within a couple of laps Leaney was forced to return to the pit lane, with CF Racing surrounding the car to diagnose power issues. Leaney retired to the paddock, leaving Carey in control of the race.
Battles began to develop in the midfield too, as Hughes worked his way back up. Tussling with Phillip and Patrick Jeans, he managed to pass Phillip and left the door open for Patrick to pass his dad too. Just ahead, Stuart Wiltshire was pressuring teammate Tony Bishop for position.
At the front meanwhile, Kelly was ramping up the pace to catch Carey, setting fastest laps and closing the gap down to 0.375s at one point. They soon found themselves meeting the back markers, which Carey managed to use to his advantage, stretching the gap slightly before regaining the fastest lap once clear of the traffic. As the flag fell, the victory was Carey's, with Kelly and Line completing the podium.
Speaking after the race, he said, "I got a really good start, and for the first lap I thought Stefano was going to be quicker, but then as the first few laps went on I realised I was keeping with him. We got into the lead but then the back markers were putting me under so much pressure because Shane was coming up from behind. I'm delighted to take the first win of the season!"
Kelly commented, "I think we knew we had the pace there, the start was pretty good but I got a bit of wheel spin in second gear. It was a case of getting in the dirty air each time and trying to make him [Carey] make a mistake. The car's brilliant though"
Line, the 2016 Champion, said, "It's a brand new car to us this weekend, we didn't quite have the pace to keep up with the front two but very happy for the first race in the car. There's a lot more to come. A few more changes before the next race and I think we'll be up there with these guys."