CF Racing’s Zheng doubles up in National Class
Carlin’s Nicholas Latifi led home a mighty Carlin 1-2-3 in this afternoon’s Cooper Tires British F3 International Series qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps, the Canadian driver finished two-tenths ahead of Jordan King who was a tenth ahead of Jann Mardenborough, and was also the holder of the second fastest time, taking pole position for race three on Saturday. National class pole went to CF Racing’s impressive young Chinese racer Sun Zheng.
The Ardennes was basked in beautiful sunshine this afternoon and Latifi took off immediately where he left off in free practice, setting the pace with a 2:16.735. This provided his rivals with a challenging time to beat, and his team-mates King and Mardenborough would soon emerge as his closest rivals.
As the session progressed King went quickest of all with a 2:16.295, but a final run from Latifi produced a time of 2:15.542, which was good enough to ensure he took a maiden pole position for tomorrow’s first race, before his second best time saw him double that record. King will start both race one and the final race of the weekend from second on the grid.
Just over four tenths separated the top three finishers, and Mardenborough, who finished third in both free practice sessions, continued his impressive efforts with a lap of 2:15.972. The time ensures he starts on the second row for race one and race three in what is a busy weekend for the young Nissan GT Academy racer; as Mardenborough will also race in the Total 24 Hours of Spa in the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
Behind the Carlin drivers it was Double R Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Fortec’s Felipe Guimaraes who brought the main challenge. Giovinazzi’s 2:16.372 good enough for fourth in race one, Guimaraes’ 2:16.630 giving him a row three start. Positions are reversed for race three with Guimaraes ahead of his Italian rival by ten thousandths of a second.
Championship leader Will Buller had a tough afternoon in his Fortec Dallara – Mercedes, the young Northern Irish racer showed glimpses of the pace that took his to two wins here in 2011, but his efforts, a 2:17.672, were only good enough for seventh in race one, and a 2:17.793 resulting in sixth for the final race.
Columbian Tatiana Calderon sparkled in the Belgian sunshine, a sixth place for race one and eighth for race three, coupled with a consistent performance throughout free practice will give the Double R driver cause for cheer. Team-mate Sean Gelael qualified eighth for race one and seventh for race three.
The National class was dominated by Sun Zheng’s Neil Brown Engineering powered Dallara F311. From the outset the Chinese star was comfortably ahead of West-Tecs two Australasian chargers, Chris Vlok and Jordan Oon. Zheng will start from class pole for both race 1 and race 2, ninth overall; a positive test session at Anglesey boosting his confidence and understanding of Formula 3 machinery.
Nicholas Latifi, #1 Carlin – Dallara – Volkswagen (International Class Pole)
“I confused myself with that lap, 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.”
Sun Zheng, #87 CF Racing – Dallara – NBE (National Class Pole)
“We’ve done a lot of testing before coming here, I’m still getting used to the car. 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.”
Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series Provisional qualifying times / Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) / 25 July 2013
Leading International class runners
1 Nicholas LATIFI / CDN, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 2:15.542
2 Jordan KING / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 2:15.865
3 Jann MARDENBOROUGH / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 2:15.972
4 Antonio GIOVINAZZI / ITA, Double R Racing Dallara-HWA Mercedes 2:16.372
5 Felipe GUIMARAES / BRA, Fortec Dallara-HWA Mercedes 2:16.630
1 Sun ZHENG / CHI, CF Racing Dallara-NBE 2:18.832
2 Jordan OON/ AUS, Team West-Tec Dallara-Toyota 2:21.290
3 Chris VLOK / NZL, Double R Dallara-Toyota 2:22.728
Third-race grid: Latifi – King – Mardenborough – Guimaraes – Giovinazzi – Buller – Gelael – Calderon – Zheng – Oon – Vlok