It would be Tom Gamble who came away with the fastest qualifying time in the BRDC British F3 Championship on Friday afternoon. The Fortec Motorsport driver starts from pole for the second time this year.
He had been quick throughout the three practice sessions earlier in the day, becoming one of only a handful of drivers to drop below the 2min 19sec barrier. It would be a feat he repeated in the humid afternoon, as the rain threatened to hit.
While the odd spot of rain was noted, the weather soon cleared with Manuel Maldonado setting the early pace as qualifying got underway. He was soon caught by an experienced face as championship leader Linus Lundqvist and Gamble joined the forray. The Venezuelan attempted to return serve, but it would be Gamble on top by the half-session point.
Gamble would improve his time by only four thousandths of a second around the 7km track, but it proved to be enough with a time of 2min 18.857 giving him pole. Lundqvist would line up alongside in second from Maldonado, with all three separated by a tenth of a second. In fact, all the drivers in the top 16 would qualify within a second of the leader.
Both Ayrton Simmons, making his debut with Chris Dittmann Racing, and Billy Monger proved how close the field were when the pair set identical lap times. Simmons though would qualify fourth as he’d set the time first.
Sixth would go to another British F3 rookie, Max Defourny, who takes over Jordan Cane’s car after the Brit announced his retirement. Seventh would be Krishnaraaj Mahadik ahead of Josuf Owega.
There were a number of surprises throughout the field with Lundqvist’s championship challengers, Kush Maini and Nicolai Kjaergaard lining up tenth and twelfth respectively. This was a shock for Maini who had been fastest in testing. Meanwhile Kjaergaard’s new teammate Jamie Caroline qualified fourteenth out of the 19 cars on his debut.