F3 Cup title race wide open after Brands Hatch GP scorcher
22/08/2012 - Three and half points is all that separates the top two in the race to become the inaugural F3 Cup champion following the sixth round of the season at Brands Hatch last weekend (18/19 August).
A sun-soaked Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit played host to races 11 and 12 of the campaign which saw the championship christen its seventh different winner after an impressive double win from Iran's Kourosh Khani. While Khani stole the show, the championship battle was ramped up another notch withNorwich's Tristan Cliffe having his lead trimmed once again with just six races remaining.
Championship leader Cliffe admitted he was relieved to still be at the top of the standings by the slimmest of margins fromTewkesbury's Chris Dittmann. He said: "The championship is wide open and I think any of the top five could go on to win it. It was a relief to still be the leading the championship following Brands Hatch, but for me I need to find some more speed for the next round to keep my title bid on track."
Saturday's qualifying session featuring a 21 car field was dominated by Khani and Enigma Motorsport's Linton Stutely, as the pair traded fastest times before the Iranian posted a pole lap of 1 minute 22.918s. He was seven tenths of a second quicker than Stutely with championship contenders Dittmann third and Gino Ussi fourth. Louis Hamilton-Smith, Cliffe, Mark Harrison, Robbie Watts, James Abbott and Jeremy Timms rounded out the top 10.
Khani cruised to victory in race one finishing 14 seconds in front of Stutely, who was unable to maintain the Lanan Racing driver's pace. Ussi managed to find a way to third with an impressive move around the outside of Dittmann at Druids where he stayed until the chequered flag. Dittmann missed out on the opportunity to secure vital points with a spin at Dingle Dell. Hamilton-Smith came home in fourth just ahead of Cliffe and Mark Harrison. F3 Cup returnee and Kent driver Mark Terry finished an impressive eighth, while Prajesh Shah continued his run of good form in 11thplace.
Race two followed a similar pattern to race one with Khani just too strong for the rest of the field. Stutely pushed him hard in the early stages but he was forced to retire with clutch problems which gave Ussi his best finish of the season in second. Hamilton-Smith had the pace to challenge Ussi but was unable to make a pass, finishing in third with Dittmann fourth, Cliffe fifth and Mark Harrison sixth. Chris Needham returned to the top 10 in seventh along with Terry, Abbott and Dave Karaskas.
Chris Dittmann is second in the title race but is not being consumed by the championship standings, he said: "I'm not totally thinking about the championship yet but it is nice to be in the position to be in the hunt for the title at this stage."
Gino Ussi, who is tied for third in the championship with Mark Harrison, said: "We have still got plenty of races remaining so the championship is certainly not over for me. I think I have found my dry setup now which has been an issue for us all season and we should be quick atAnglesey."
In the Teams Championship, Omicron Motorsport have opened up a 37 point lead from Magic Motorsport, who in turn are nine points ahead of Mark Bailey Racing.
The F3 Cup heads to Wales for the next round of the championship at Anglesey circuit on September 8 with the destiny of the title far from certain.
F3 Cup Brands Hatch GP Race One Top 10
1. Kourosh Khani, Lanan Racing, Cup 15 laps
2. Linton Stutely, Enigma Motorsport, Trophy, +14.404s
3. Gino Ussi, Grays Motorsport, Cup +18.892s
4. Louis Hamilton-Smith, Cup +23.780s
5. Tristan Cliffe, Omicron Motorsport, Cup +32.156s
6. Mark Harrison, Magic Motorsport, Cup +1min.04.341s
7. Jeremy Timms, Topmarx Racing, Trophy +1min.16.219s
8. Mark Terry, Lanan Racing, Cup, +1min.24.821s
9. Nick Robinson, Mark Bailey Racing, Cup, +1min.26.214s
10. Neil Harrison, Magic Motrorsport, Cup, +1min.27.197s
F3 Cup Brands Hatch Grand Prix Race Two Top 10
1. Kourosh Khani, Lanan Racing, Cup 15 laps
2. Gino Ussi, Grays Motorsport, Cup, +9.450s
3. Louis Hamilton-Smith, Cup +11.392s
4. Chris Dittmann, Chris Dittmann Racing, Trophy +26.907s
5. Tristan Cliffe, Omicron Motorsport, Cup +27.826s
6. Mark Harrison, Magic Motorsport, Cup +32.597s
7. Chris Needham Cup +59.568s
8. Mark Terry, Lanan Racing, Cup +1min.02.639s
9. James Abbott, Cup +1min.03.135s
10. Dave Karaskas, Masters +1 lap
Drivers and teams interested in joining the 2012 F3 Cup should contact championship co-ordinator Simon Davey on 07770 368648, email email@example.com. For all the latest news and further announcements visit www.f3cup.co.uk. Follow F3 Cup on twitter at www.twitter.com/f3cup.