Fresh from claiming the runner-up spot in the Cooper Tyres British F3 Championships, James Calado proved his worth by winning the last race of the season at a rain soaked Brands Hatch. Elsewhere, National Class driver Menasheh Idafar took the national class championship with a superb drive to claim an impressive third overall.
As the cars lined up on the grid, spots of rain fell with more looking imminent. Some drivers decided to change to wets after the formation lap dropping them down to the back of the pack. One of these drivers was Idafar, a wise choice as he only needed to finish to win the national class championship and didn't want to risk spinning off on a dampening track.
However, no one could foresee what was to come.
It was Calado who got the jump on pole sitter Daniel McKenzie who had dropped down the order and was sixth past the line after the first lap. Calado was now pulling away from the pack as the rain started to get heavier, but as he was keeping his cool, others were starting to struggle in the conditions. One of which was Jean-Eric Vergne as he made an uncharacteristic mistake and span off a Druids. Soon, the majority of the field were coming in to change to wets if they had not already done so.
By lap 15 it was time for Calado to change to wets as he was now on the limit of the cars capabilities and with a 15 second lead and a now very wet circuit he came in. Oli Webb had decided he was going to stay out and inherited the lead from his fellow countryman but that only lasted two laps before deciding enough was enough and he too came in to change his tyres. Webb's team mate McKenzie was toughing it out on slicks and was back in the lead, but not for long. Calado, now on the correct tyres for the conditions reclaimed the lead on lap 20 with William Buller following.
Meanwhile, whilst Calado was dominating out front, attentions were turned to a remarkable event happening further down the pack. Idafar, who had pitted at the start for wets was now showing that this was a good decision. As cars pitted ahead of the National Class driver he was slowly moving up the order. Coupled with his confident driving, he was quickly picking up places and by lap 16 he was up to tenth. As drivers ahead were pitting and with Carlos Huertas and McKenzie opting to stay on slicks, Idafar picked them off with some great overtaking moves and with just three laps remaining, he found himself in the final podium position.
As the Chequered flag came out, Calado had an eight second lead over second placed Buller with Idafar holding onto third from a chasing Adderley Fong who himself had a superb drive in the poor conditions. Jay Bridger took a season best fifth place just ahead of McKenzie who battled on with his slick tyres. Felipe Nasr came home in seventh in front of another two drivers opting to stay on slicks, Huertas and Adriano Buzaid. Oli Webb rounded out the top ten, whilst only two further drivers, Jazeman Jaafar and national class runner-up James Cole completed the race distance.
A delighted Menasheh Idafar told the press afterwards. “The tyres came to me as the conditions worsened and I was able to pick cars off one by one, while being careful because I had to finish the race.” Whilst race winner Calado said “I was very worried when I stopped, I wasn't sure if it was the right decision and it was quite a last-minute thing. The guys did a great job in getting the wet tyres on and that enabled me to get back in front and stay ahead of Will, who was pushing really hard. It's a very emotional win for me and it's great to win the last race of the season.”