Nick McBride, T-Sport. Image by Jakob Ebrey Photography

British hopeful Jack Harvey chalked up a vital testing success at Rockingham today, going ahead of his rivals by a third of a second to lead on the first of two days of official testing for the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series.

The 18-year-old from Bassingham in Lincolnshire posted his best lap in the final session of the day on the Northamptonshire speedway, hustling his Volkswagen-powered Carlin Dallara F312 around the circuit in 1m 17.022s. His closest challenger for the day was his fellow Brit and Carlin team-mate Harry Tincknell with a 1m 17.319s lap. Tincknell headed the timesheets in two of the four sessions, Jazeman Jaafar in one.

“It was a very productive day,” said Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver Harvey. “The car felt good all day, we made a few tweaks, put some new tyres on towards the end and it all came together. However, we will have to keep working hard tomorrow to try to create an even bigger gap.”

The leading non-Volkswagen runner was again Fortec’s Alex Lynn, whose Dallara-Mercedes was just half a second off Harvey’s pace and half a second clear of the sister car of Puerto Rican racer Felix Serralles.

The T-Sport team gave its new ThreeBond/Nissan-powered chassis a good shakedown, its Australian pilot Nick McBride posting a best time of 1m 18.560s and proving consistently one of the faster cars through the speed trap. “The morning session was good,” said Nick, “and we learned heaps, but in the afternoon I didn’t get out on my second set of rubber.”

T-Sport boss Russell Eacott added: “The car ran faultlessly and we are happy. Nick did a good job on his first day in the dry in an International class F3 car to end the day only 1.5s off the front, and there is plenty more time to come.”

Double R Racing returned to the British F3 fray today, new signing Duvashen Padayachee shaking down the team’s Mugen Honda-engined National class car and gaining valuable experience over 45 laps at Rockingham. Australian Padayachee was shaded for National Class honours by his countryman Spike Goddard, for T-Sport.

Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series
Official test day 3 / Rockingham, Northants / 13 March 2012

Leading International class runners am / pm (quickest time in bold)
1  Jack HARVEY / GBR,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  1:17.407 / 1:17.022
2  Harry TINCKNELL / GBR,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  1:17.990 / 1:17.319
3  Carlos SAINZ / ESP,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  1:17.489 / 1:17.322
4  Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  1:17.347 / 1:17.367
5  Pietro FANTIN / BRA,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  1:18.225 / 1:17.423
6  Alex LYNN / GBR,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  1:17.998 / 1:17.559
7  Felix SERRALLES / PUR,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  1:18.470 / 1:18.122
8  Hannes VAN ASSELDONK / NED,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  1:18.251 / 1:18.322
9  Pipo DERANI / BRA,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  1:19.945 / 1:18.341
10  Nick McBRIDE / AUS,  T-Sport Dallara-Nissan  1:18.560 / 1:19.211

National class
1  Spike GODDARD / AUS,  T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda  1:20.185 / 1:20.084
2  Duvashen PADAYACHEE / AUS,  Double R Dallara-Mugen Honda  1:21.932 / 1:21.507

Full TSL timesheets