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Oliver Turvey took pole position for Round 20 of the 2008 British F3 International Series at Bucharest with a last lap effort that secured the top spot ahead of Round 19 winner Brendon Hartley by three thousandths of a second. Row two for this afternoons race will be headed by Jaime Alguersuari in front of John Martin, with the Hitech duo of Max Chilton and Walter Grubmuller filling row 3. Newly crowned National Class champion Jay Bridger took his second pole of the weekend ahead of Hywel Lloyd and Steven Guerrero.
Once again the early pace was set by Sergio Perez, the T Sport driver posting a 1m15.521 lap, just ahead of John Martin and Marcus Ericsson. However with just five minutes of the session run the red flags came out as Atte Mustonen clipped a barrier in the first chicane and slamming the Finns Dallara into the concrete wall on the exit. Mustonen climbed out of the car but his Double R run car would be requiring attention from his mechanics before this afternoon’s race.
The session restarted once the track was cleared and the leading championship contenders stayed in the pits. Jay Bridger posted a 1m16.282 to stake a claim on the top spot in the National Class, 0.5 seconds ahead of Round 19 race winner Salman Al Khalifa.
Max Chilton went second fastest with 12 minutes of the session run but 30-seconds later he was pushed down to third as Marcus Ericsson went quickest with a 1m15.348. The session suddenly became very busy as the rest of the field joined the track just as Sam Abay became the first driver to post a sub 1 minute 14 second lap to go to the top of the time sheets.
The times then started to tumble as first Chilton, then Turvey, followed by Grubmuller and then Chilton again all briefly went to the top of the timing board but it was Brendon Hartley on his second flying lap who looked to be on course for his second pole of the weekend. Oliver Turvey had other ideas and for next few minutes the two Carlin drivers swapped best times with Hartley still able to keep slightly ahead of Turvey.
Sam Abay’s session came to an abrupt end when his Carlin Dallara hit the wall, damaging the left hand side wheels. The Australian was able to drive the car to a safe position at Turn 6 and the session continued uninterrupted.
With six minutes remaining, Jaime Alguersuari went third quickest with a 1m12.795 as his Red Bull Junior teammate improved his provisional pole time once again with a 1m12.039. Sergio Perez’s championship aspirations look to be slipping away as the Mexican continued to struggle down in 12th place.
With five minutes of the session to go Brendon Hartley looked secure in the top spot when Steven Guerrero spun and hit the wall at Turn 10, his T Sport Dallara coming to rest in the middle of the circuit and bringing out the second red flag. The marshals quickly removed the car and with four minutes and thirty four seconds showing on the clock the cars came out for a last gasp attempt.
Jaime Alguersuari improved his time but stayed third as qualifying came to a close, with Walter Grubmuller improving his time to up a place ahead of Esteban Guerrieri to join his Hitech teammate on the third row. However all eyes were on Oliver Turvey as his sector times flashed up on the screen indicating the Racing Steps Foundation driver was on a flyer. Turvey crossed the line to record a 1m12.036 lap as the chequered flag waved to end the session, putting the championship leader on pole position just 0.003 ahead of Hartley.
Pole sitter Oliver Turvey said, “We found a little more time this morning, and I thought before the session we had the pace to get pole. I thought I could have got pole before the red flag came out, so I knew I had to really push in the final few laps when the session restarted. My engineer and I made a small adjustment over night which has really improved the car. I’m just aiming to get a good start and win the race this afternoon. I’m not thinking any further ahead than that at the moment.”
Round 20 of the 2008 British F3 International is due to start at 16:00 local time today (14:00 UK time).
ROUND 20: Qualifying
1 – 17 – INT – Oliver TURVEY – GBR – 1m12.036
2 – 3 – INT – Brendon HARTLEY – NZL – +0.003s
3 – 4 – INT – Jaime ALGUERSUARI – ESP – +0.499s
4 – 24 – INT – John MARTIN – AUS – +0.923s
5 – 1 – INT – Max CHILTON – GBR – +0.959s
6 – 2 – INT – Walter GRUBMULLER – AUT – +0.980s
7 – 11- INT – Esteban GUERRIERI – ARG – +1.018s
8 – 8 – INT – Marcus ERICSSON – SWE – +1.218s
9 – 18 – INT – Sam ABAY – AUS – +1.399s
10 – 9 – INT – Sergio PEREZ – MEX – +1.403s
11 – 16 – INT – Michael DEVANEY – IRL – +1.470s
12 – 85 – INV – Oliver OAKES – GBR – +1.745s
13 – 12 – INT – Ricardo TEIXEIRA – ANG – +1.765s
14 – 50 – NAT – Jay BRIDGER – GBR – +1.843s
15 – 52 – NAT – Hywel LLOYD – GBR – +2.107s
16 – 53 – NAT – Steven GUERRERO – COL – +2.341s
17 – 51 – NAT – Stefan WILSON – GBR – +2.553s
18 – 6 – INT – Henry ARUNDEL – GBR – +2.624s
19 – 14 – INT – Philip MAJOR – CAN – +3.097s
20 – 57 – NAT – Salman AL KHALIFA – BHR – +3.099s
21 – 26 – INT – Atte MUSTONEN – FIN – +4.553s