In an intense opening qualifying at Snetterton for the new season, Lando Norris edged out his team mate after a 15 minute battle at the end of the session saw him top the tables with a 1m44.570s.
The first qualifying session of the new BRDC British F3 season was delayed, but soon got underway with experienced series racer Faisal Al Zubair first onto the track. The Snetterton track saw the 21 runners battle for space, but it was Ricky Collard who set the early pace.
His time of 1m47.314s was soon beaten by fellow former MSA Formula racer Enaam Ahmed, who was desperate to prove himself now he’d secured a years experience. The two battled for the opening few minutes before Collard and Carlin team mate Norris locked out the first two spots on the grid.
While he may have failed to feature heavily in 2015, Tarun Reddy was prepared to prove himself as he broke into the top three, before a red flag brought a stop to proceedings.
Thomas Maxwell and Sisa Ngebulana turned out to be the reason for the stoppage as Collard lead the field with a 1m45.263s. Behind him was Former MSV F3 Cup winner Toby Sowery, with Norris, Aleksanteri Huovinen and Reddy rounding out the top 5.
Both Collard and Norris had been on course for personal bests before the red flag, but with only 7 minutes until the flag, many knew they’d only get one or two more shots at pole. Meanwhile Norris became the first driver to lay down the gauntlet.
Collard then became the first driver to break into the 1m44s, as a number of others improved. It eventually came down to a last lap shoot out as Matheus Leist recovered a mediocre session to cross the line fifth overall.
While Collard had improved, Norris wasn’t going to take it lying down and with the final lap of the front runners in the session, snatched pole by 0.041 seconds.
Behind the Carlin pairing, Reddy continued his strong showing to go third ahead of Sowery and Leist. Huovinen managed to hold on to sixth ahead of the Douglas Motorsport drivers; Thomas Randle and Ahmed.
“To get the first pole in the championship is always good.” said Norris after qualifying. “A Carlin one-two also proves what a great job the team has done and obviously gives us a good platform for the race.
“Hopefully I can keep it calm and pull away but I think it is going to be a close race and a good battle with Ricky. The aim is to get my head down and pull away but we know Ricky is fast and will be pushing me so I need to keep focused.”
Snetterton: Round 1 Qualifying Results
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