DRIVER NEWS: Leicester Driver Races to British F3 Podium
Steve Jelley gives his thoughts in the post race press conference
DRIVER NEWS: Leicester driver Stephen Jelley started his quest for the 2007 British Formula 3 Championship with two excellent podium finishes at Oulton Park on Easter Monday.
Jelley is among the favourites for the prestigious championship, and the points from strong finishes in second and third place put him into third place in the series. That means he's already right in the hunt for the championship that has helped Ayrton Senna, David Coulthard and Jenson Button into Formula 1.
The double podium finish is also the best result for any race weekend of Stephen's Formula 3 career. He is responding in style to the faith shown him by his team Raikkonen Robertston Racing, which is part-owned by Ferrari Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen.
Jelley qualified his Dallara-Mercedes on the front row for both races, which each count for championship points. He was hoping for the perfect starts that would see him into the lead, but on raceday things didn't go quite that perfectly.
In the morning race Stephen dropped one spot at the start, struggling with the tricky Formula 3 clutch. But he then kept the pressure on rival driver Marko Asmer throughout the race, hoping to force Asmer into a mistake. This was his only hope of moving up to second, as it is virtually impossible to overtake around the tricky Oulton Park circuit. The mistake never came, but Stephen was happy enough to secure third place in spite of a mid-race rain shower making life difficult.
Race two was even better. Despite the distraction of two early race stoppages, Jelley held his position from the third and final start, slotting into second place behind familiar foe Asmer. In this race Stephen was looking even faster than in the morning, and he was all over the back of Asmer. There's no doubt that he had the potential to run away with this race, but once again there was simply no way past and he had to settle for second.
"I had a really fantastic race car today," said Stephen. "But I just couldn't get alongside and make that pass. But I've picked up decent points, and if I can average that many points at each race weekend this season then I'll be in a good position to take the championship. A win would have been great today, but I'm happy to take the points.
"I'm looking forward to the next race at Donington Park in two weeks. It's in Leicestershire, so it's my home circuit, and I expect to be quick again there. In fact, with the technical package we've got I think we're going to be competitive everywhere this season."