DRIVER NEWS: Leicester driver Stephen Jelley moved back up to fourth in the British Formula 3 Championship with a third and a fourth place finish on the famous and testing Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.
But despite another podium finish on the track which many drivers consider the toughest in the world, Jelley came away disappointed as a win continues to elude him.
Qualifying began well for Stephen, who put his Raikkonen Robertson Racing car on pole position for the second time this season. It meant he would start the first race from the front – but the team's starting curse struck once again when the starting lights went out on Friday.
All of the Raikkonen Robertson drivers have encountered occasional starting problems this season and this time it was Stephen's turn for a poor getaway. He lost the lead to Sam Bird, but fought back to reclaim it later on the first lap. Bird then struck back on lap three, moving into a lead he would not lose again. Jelley later lost out to his team-mate Jonathan Kennard, who snatched second place on the last lap.
"It was another good points score, but I'm seeking a bit more than that," said a disappointed Jelley afterwards. "The car's handling deteriorated on raceday and it's just frustrating that I don't seem to be getting the breaks at the moment, especially after I've proven myself by taking two poles already this season."
The second race, on Saturday, was frustrating for all concerned. Stephen had qualified fourth, but rain and officialdom spoilt any chances of claiming another top-three. The organisers decided that it was too wet for a traditional start, and let a much-shortened race start behind the safety car. This ruined everyone's chances of progressing by means of a good getaway.
Stephen held his fourth place, and was beginning to close on the front three when the safety car re-appeared after just three laps thanks to a backmarker's crash. As a result of the 30-minute time limit, the race remained neutralized until the end. Race two turned out to be little more than a parade, with practically no time for any racing.
"That was a real non-event," said Stephen. "It was the dullest race I've ever had. There was no need to start it behind the safety car, and then they also left the safety car out too long at the end. There was no wreckage left on the track and there was definitely time for a dash to the flag."
Stephen returns to Belgium for next week's assignment, which is the non-championship Formula 3 Masters event at Zolder. This invitational race pits all of Europe's top drivers against each other, and Stephen will start among the favourites.