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Donington 12/10/2008 - 06 Days, 05 Hrs, 34 Mins
RD 5 QUALIFYING: Red Flags Can't Stop Marko Claiming Pole


Marko Asmer (#7 Hitech Racing) claimed his third straight pole position of the 2007 season in Bucharest in a red flag hit 30 minute session for tomorrows fifth race of the year.  The Estonian finished 0.160 seconds ahead of Alberto Valerio (#22 Carlin Motorsport), the 2005 SudAm Formula 3 Champion revelling in the challenge of the street circuit in the Romanian Capital.   

The first red flag was caused before anyone had set a time when Asmer's teammate Walter Grubmuller went straight on at the first corner, the car coming to rest with the rear end of his Dallara in pieces.  The Austrian was helped from the car but was taken away to the circuit medical centre when he appeared very dazed following the incident.

When the session went green it was Asmer who took control of proceedings but was quickly bumped from the top spot by Maro Engel (#23 Carlin Motorsport), who was demoted in turn by Stephen Jelley (#1 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) a few seconds later.

The second red flag of the session was show to allow the ambulance to take Grubmuller to the medical centre and then qualifying recommenced.  Engel bounced back to the top at the restart ahead of Jelley, Jonathan Kennard (#2 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) and Asmer but within two laps Sam Bird (#3 Carlin Motorsport) went to the top of the field.

The times continued to tumble as Bird was knocked off the top by Mustonen, Engel and then Asmer in quick succession, but a lap later Bird went back to the top.

The third red flag of the session came out with 12 minutes to go as 'Frankie' Cheng (#39 Performance Racing) hit the rear of Esteban Guerrieri's Mygale and the Ultimate Motorsport car was left stranded at the entrance of the escape road as Cheng recovered his Dallara to the pitlane with damaged suspension.

The session was restarted once again with Asmer and Bird swapping fastest sector times. Asmer then stamped his authority on the session becoming the first driver to post a 1minute 11 second lap.  Bird responded but was unable to get on terms with Asmer again.  Alberto Valerio was also on the move, taking third place behind his Carlin teammate Niall Breen (#21 Carlin Motorsport).

Sebastian Hohenthal (#5 Fortec Motorsport) then lept up the order to claim a front row position behind Asmer, with Valerio moving ahead of Breen to head the second row.  Bird hadn't given up and he demoted Valerio on the next lap, but Valerio responded and moved ahead of both Bird and Hohenthal just as the red flag came out again to end the session after Guerrieri, who had got his Mygale moving after the earlier incident, ended up in the tyre barriers.

Marko Asmer: "It's not very easy but no I've been starting well now; we've been quickest in every session so far.  The good thing is that no one can say I've done this so many times because I'm here for the first time like everybody.  So it's a good start.  In qualifying the track is getting better and we find small bits and getting quicker ourselves.  We should go quicker tomorrow again.  My lap time was good but it was nothing special to our own standards.  I think we had a very, very good lap coming but in the second last corner I hit some traffic and I know we could be much quicker than we are now."

In the National Class battle Sergio Perez (#31 T Sport) did all of the early running but was under pressure from the rapid Mike Meadows (#55 Newnet Raikkonen Robertson Racing) and Alistair Jackson (#35 Raikkonen Roberston Racing).  Meadows made his move after the 3rd red flag interuption, moving well ahead of his rivals but it was Jackson who had played the long game, punching in his quickest lap of the session as the qualifying period drew to a close and he was rewarded with the class pole position ahead of Meadows and Perez.

Alistair Jackson: "I'm delighted, that's the first pole position of the season, so hopefully on the way up from that.  I'm new to this track like everybody else and I'm getting quicker every time I go out.  As it happens my very last lap was the fastest lap. I really like the place; it's got a good atmosphere.  When I walked the track yesterday I thought it was going to be worse than it actually is; it's a very good track."

Round 5 of the 2007 Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series is due to start at 11:55 tomorrow and will be preceded  at 08:15 with the 30 minute qualifying session for Round 6 on Sunday.

Qualifying for Round 5

Provisional results

1 7 C Marko ASMER EST 1:11.681  156.24kph

2 22 C Alberto VALERIO BRA  +0.160s

3 5 C Sebastian HOHENTHAL SWE +0.677s

4 3 C Sam BIRD GBR +0.692s

5 21 C Niall BREEN IRL +0.820s

6 23 C Maro ENGEL GER +1.090s

7 26 C Atte MUSTONEN FIN +1.165s

8 50 C Greg MANSELL GBR +1.318s

9 1 C Stephen JELLEY GBR +1.413s

10 15 C Michael DEVANEY IRL +1.768s

11 35 N Alistair JACKSON GBR +2.096s

12 2 C Jonathan KENNARD GBR +2.129s

13 55 N Michael MEADOWS GBR +2.195s

14 14 C Esteban GUERRIERI ARG +2.217s

15 31 N Sergio PEREZ MEX +2.381s

16 9 C Rodolfo GONZALEZ VEN +2.532s

17 24 C John MARTIN AUS +2.533s

18 4 C Mario MORAES BRA +2.614s

19 38 N Hamad AL FARDAN BHR +2.689s

20 36 N Albert COSTA ESP +2.761s

21 61 I Max CHILTON GBR +3.448s

22 37 N Viktor JENSEN ISL +3.480s

23 33 N Juan Pablo GARCIA S. MEX +3.733s

24 34 N Alex WATERS GBR +3.841s

25 12 C Sean PETTERSON RSA +4.244s

26 44 C Leo MANSELL GBR +4.832s

27 8 C Francesco CASTELLACCI ITA +4.910s

28 10 C Ricardo TEIXEIRA ANG +5.325s

29 39 N CHENG Cong Fu CHN +5.620s

30 77 N Salman AL KHALIFA BHR +5.787s

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