Carlin’s trio of drivers in the British F3 International Series dominated the qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps, taking the top three places for both the first and third races of the Belgian race weekend.
The three men – all in VW powered Dallaras – will start the two races in the same order. Canadian Nicolas Latifi will start both races from pole position after he beat teammate and rival Jordan King into second places. King has led the session from early on with a best lap of 2:16.295 but by lapping the 7km track in 2:15.542 Latifi claimed his maiden F3 pole, despite a little confusion on his part.
“I confused myself with that lap,” he said. “I didn’t realise I was in the 15’s with my time, I thought I was in the 16’s, and I was frustrated, but then when I realised what my time was, I was very happy. It’s great to get a pole position, we have really good pace here this weekend and I’ m confident of having a good first race. It was amazing result for the team, a 1-2-3 for both races is huge.”
Having done enough to take one pole position Latifi completed a sweep of the places on offer with a subsequent lap, though King would improve his own best time to 2:15.865.
Jann Mardenborough – performing double duty at Spa as he will race in the Total 24 Hours of Spa as well as the three F3 races – will start both races from third position. The Nissan GT Academy graduate ensured that all three Carlin cars were covered by little more than four tenths of a second with fourth fastest qualifier Antonio Giovinazzi another four tenths off the overall pace.
The Italian, racing for Double R, will start the third and final race of the weekend from fifth, Fortec Motorsports’ Felipe Guimaraes starting ahead of him for that race, a reverse of the order for the opening race.
Guimaraes trails Will Buller in the championship standings after the first weekend of the truncated season at Silverstone in May. Buller, however, suffered in the session only able to take a seventh and sixth.
Both National Class poles went to CF Racing driver Sun Zheng. The Chinese race was comfortably faster than class rivals Jordan Oon and Chris Vlok, Oon, second fastest, nearly 2.5 seconds slower than Zheng’s best (2:18.832).
“We’ve done a lot of testing before coming here, but I’m still getting used to the car,” said Zheng. “Silverstone wasn’t very good for us. We didn’t get a chance to test properly so we were worrying about set-up a lot, but I’m feeling prepared, the team feel prepared; it’s very good and we look ok for tomorrow. I’m not sure if we can get ahead of anyone in front of us, but I’ll try to follow them and learn from them. My target is to come to the International class in the future, so it will be great to experience racing against those cars.”