Despite a slow start to the session at Brands Hatch, it was once again the Carlin team who dominated the end of the qualifying, as Petru Florescu took his first MSA Formula pole by 0.016 seconds to lead a Carlin 1-2-3.
Florescu had spent the early part of the session warming his car up as he was unable to challenge the top five, just like his team mates. With ten minutes to go, the situation changed as the first Carlin driver Devlin DeFrancesco showed his hand, going top.
Soon it was team mates Max Fewtrell and then James Pull who joined him at the pinnacle of the times, only leaving the Romanian stuck in the midfield. Florescu’s first hot lap saw him jump up to third before taking the lead. He kept up his pace for the final five minutes proving it wasn’t a one-off lap.
Pull would be the only driver to get to with five-hundredths of a second, but will have to be satisfied with the dirty side of the track going into the first turn. Fewtrell set an outstanding final lap to take third as the rest of the field struggled to improve in the closing four minutes.
This late lap pushed down Red Bull-backed Luis Leeds, who was the only driver to challenge Florescu and the other Carlin’s in the later stages. He had been the first driver under 46 seconds, but it proved to little avail as he’ll start alongside fifth place Alex Quinn, with the Racing Steps Foundation driver another late improver.
Once again the consistent pace of Rafa Martins landed him a competitive finishing position in sixth, as it did in practice. Meanwhile, DeFrancesco was unable to keep up the pace of his team mates in the closing stages, dropping to seventh overall, just ahead of Jamie Caroline.
Caroline had been the early pace setter in the session, thanks to the clear track, but like so many was unable to improve, with his Jamun Racing car dropping down the order as time passed. He was forced to pit in the final few minutes, denying him the opportunity to retaliate to the Carlin’s time. As a result, his grid position may not reflect his actual pace.