The fight for runner up spot in the Cooper Tyres British Formula 3 Championships is still on as Oliver Webb took the first win at Brands Hatch this weekend. Rival James Calado, who currently holds second place in the championship finished just behind Webb to limit the points difference and continues to gain the upper hand. Adriano Buzaid still clings on to the hope of securing the runners up place ahead of the two Brits as he rounded out the top three in race one.
Fortec Motorsport driver Webb, took pole position for the first race of the final round after some confusion after the qualifying session. A couple of yellow flags bought out in the dying minutes meant drivers were not going to prove their times already set. However, there were a number of drivers who had improved to claim positions towards the front of the grid. These incidents were investigated and the drivers who had set fastest times under the yellow flag period had them removed. This left Webb on pole with Calado alongside him on the front row. Columbian driver Carlos Huertas clinched third place whilst Rupert Svendsen-Cook made it three British drivers in the top four places. Buzaid, who claimed the third race win in the last round at Snetterton lined up on fifth beside Daniel McKenzie. Championship winner, Jean-Eric Vergne who was fresh from winning in the Formula Renault 3.5 series at Silverstone last weekend had a poor qualifying session by his standard which resulted in a seventh place.
Webb had a good start after what seemed a long wait for the lights to go out and he lead the pack around Paddock Hill bend and up towards Druids. Calado slotted in behind the leader and the whole pack successfully navigated the opening corners without incident.
As they passed the line at the end of lap one, Webb was starting to build a lead, but Buzaid had made up places to move up to third place. Jean-Eric Vergne had dropped a place as William Buller had moved up from eighth to sixth, ahead of McKenzie. It was to prove an uneventful drive from the new Champion as he seemed happy to sit in his eighth place and this was where he was to finish, much to the disappointment of the on looking fans who were hoping to see some exciting racing from the Frenchman.
During the race the front two started to break away from the chasing pack whilst the gap between them yo-yoed. No sooner had Webb set a faster lap over Calado, then the next lap it was Calado's turn to set a quicker time. It wasn't until the last few laps that Webb had started to build a substantial lead of his chasing rival as Calado had been held up by Gabriel Dias, who having suffered problems was just out testing the car before tomorrow's action and with two laps remaining the gap was up to 4.299 seconds. But James Calado in the Racing Steps backed Carlin Dallara, showed his ability and as Webb took the chequered flag, he had closed the gap to just over two and a half seconds.
Buzaid crossed the line in third after a lonely race ten seconds ahead of fourth placed Svendsen-Cook. There was a close fought battle between Huertas and Buller for fifth but it was the Colombian clinching the place just ahead of the Brit. Daniel McKenzie, finished seventh place ahead of Vergne with Daisuke Nakajima and Felipe Nasr rounding out the top ten.
There was more good news for Webb as he claimed an additional point for fastest lap and he did the Fortec team a big favour by picking out ball number seven from the draw to give team mate McKenzie pole position for race two.
The National Class has been hotly contested all season and with just 4 points separating the two title contenders, Menasheh Idafar and James Cole, it looked like it was going to go down to the wire. However it was Idafar who was to take the win ahead of Cole in the first of the three races to extend his slight points lead.
After the race we caught up with James Calado and he told The Checkered Flag, “I made a good start, better than Oli and got alongside, but he closed the door and I wasn't able to overtake.” He then continued, “He (Webb) was slightly quicker in the initial laps as the tyres got up to temperature but my race pace was good and managed to keep the gap pretty much the same throughout the race until I got held up by Dias in the Hitech Car which was a shame really as I lost a good chunk of time, but I caught him up at the end and the pace was good. I'm starting in front of him in both races tomorrow and as long as I finish ahead of him then that will be a good result. If I beat him in the reverse grid race then I will secure the second place in the championship, so fingers crossed and I will do my best.”