The first race weekend for F3 Cup in 2021 was Silverstone National, with a close field of drivers and challenging conditions it was set to be an exciting weekend!
With changing conditions before the start of the session, all but 2 drivers changed from slicks to wets. Shane Kelly and John Corbett took the risky choice of heading out on slick tyres, which at first did not seem to bode well with both drivers down in the times. Shane came into the pits to change onto wets later in the session, but was not able to put a flying lap in and qualified at the back of the grid. John, driving a F317 in the Euro class, stayed with the slicks to put in a pole time 54.3 seconds on the second to last lap.
Stefano Leaney had been leading the timings for most of the session, he came into the pits to change to slicks as the track was drying, but unfortunately he was caught out by the wet pit lane exit and found himself in the barriers in the pit lane. However, his earlier time saw him qualify second.
James Winslow in the invitation class placed his F308 third, followed by Dominic Paul who qualified fourth overall and first in the F3 Cup class. George Line qualified second in the Cup class, just 0.212 seconds behind Dominic. Tony Bishop will line up behind George, in sixth position, followed by Shane.
With heavy rain showers between qualifying and the first race, it was set to be challenging conditions for the drivers.
John didn’t get the best start from pole, but his teammate James had a great start, getting into the lead of the race from third by turn one. George came through from fifth on the grid to battle for second place with Stefano. John was with the two of them in the battle for second, but a move down the middle of them at Maggots saw him make contact George, putting George out of the race.
James held the lead of the race ahead of Stefano for the opening phase of the race, before Stefano made a move round the outside into Luffield to take the lead. Stefano pulled away to take the win by 15 seconds over James, with James having a fairly lonely race after his initial battle to finish in second overall with a 21 second cushion to Dominic who came in third.
Tony had a bad start to the race, which left him 10 seconds down on the pack. Tony showed his pace in the difficult conditions closing in on Shane and eventually making it past him. Tony finished in fourth overall and second in class. With Shane fifth overall and second in class.
The start of the race saw the top three battling close together but by lap 2 Stefano managed to pull away from the two behind him. A close battle ensued between James and John, with John getting past him on lap two. James stuck with him but soon had Tony challenging him for third place. Tony got past him on lap five to get into third place and although the three of them all stayed close for the rest of the race, none were able to get past each other.
Shane started the race in the sixth position and second in class, he lost a place to George at the start of the race. However, contact between George and Dominic ahead of him, put George out of the race and elevated Shane back to sixth overall and second in class. Dominic had started fifth overall and first in class, but Shane soon caught him and got past on lap four. Shane started pulling away from him to eventually finish first in class and fifth overall, 6.8 seconds ahead of Dominic who came home second in class and sixth overall.
A heavy rain shower before the start of race three saw everybody on wet tyres again. Stefano sat on pole again alongside John with James and Tony on the second row.
James got a fantastic start to this race, catapulting himself from third into the lead of the race, followed by Stefano and John, battling for second place. An attempted move by Stefano down the inside of James at Luffield allowed John to come round the outside and demoted Stefano down to third, with Shane looming behind trying to make a move past him, having already passed Tony for fourth place.
James kept the lead for a couple of laps, before Stefano made it past and into the lead of the race on lap four, he then slowly pulled out his lead during the race to win by 16 seconds ahead of James in second and John in third.
George started the race at the back of the grid, he got past Dominic on lap seven before hunting down Tony. Tony and Shane were battling for fourth position when George joined in the fight. With Tony both attacking and defending, a mistake on lap thirteen caused him to spin, allowing George through into fifth place. Tony recovered well from the spin to continue on and finish sixth ahead of Dominic in seventh. The battle was not over for George though who made short work of getting past Shane for fourth place overall and the win of the Cup class.
With Stefano taking three wins out of three he heads the overall championship table as well as the F3 Euro Class championship table. Shane follows in second place in the championship table whilst leading the F3 Cup Class championship table.
We head to Castle Combe on the 12th June for the next round of the Hardall F3 Cup Championship!