An overcast sky and an early qualifying meant the cars took a while to warm up when first on track. Kelly was the first to post a competitive time of 1:10 which was quickly beaten by Jacopo Sebastiani and former F3 Cup champion Chris Dittmann, who had made his return behind the wheel after one of his drivers dropped out from the race weekend. It was then a close fight between Kelly, Watts, Sebastiani, Carey, Dittmann and Heffernan, all fighting for pole and within a 10th of a second of each other. Kelly was determined to lead the pack and posted a series of quick lap times, finishing with a 1:06.125 on his last lap, securing himself and UWR pole position for the first race.
The heavens opened over the circuit during lunch, which threw setup into question for the entire F3 grid. Tension rose in the assembly area as cars lined up to make their way on track. James Heffernan was slow to join the rest of the pack on the green flag laps after a last minute decision to change to a wet setup.
After the first green flag lap it was apparent for several cars on the grid that the track was quickly drying, their teams ready in the pits to make a speedy wheel-change and get back out on to the grid before the start of the race. On the second green flag lap, UWRs Shane Kelly made the same decision to change setup. Students leapt into action to change all four wheels and when the car was once again race-ready, Kelly started the race 40 seconds behind race leader Chris Dittmann.
It was a close fight at the top of the grid between Dittmann, Carey and former championship leader George Line. Meanwhile, Shane Kelly and Sebastiani both fought their way through the pack. Some fantastic overtakes on the outside line saw Kelly quickly jump from 15th to 8th place. Excitement grew for the University of Wolverhampton Racing (UWR) Team as their extremely determined driver proceeded to rise through the grid, setting a fastest lap of 1:07.511.
The top of the grid changed multiple times, Dittmann and Carey fell to 5th and 6th position, Heffernan took home his first race win of the season. Both Jacopo Sebastiani and UWRs Shane Kelly climbed a heroic 11 places to finish towards the top of the grid; a P2 for Sebastiani and a P4 for Kelly.
With weather being unpredictable, UWR spent the afternoon practising their pit-stops, ensuring their confidence next time it happens.
A series of showers followed by sunny skies threw setup once again into question on Sunday morning. With the F3 Cup first out on a cold track, a wet setup was favoured unanimously by the grid. Stuart Wiltshire spun on entry to Riches Corner whilst warming his tyres up, showing the spectatorsthe wet conditions.
Kelly was slow away from the line allowing Dittmann to quickly jump into the lead, with Watts and Carey close behind. Now in sixth, Kelly proceeded to push his way back up the grid, overtaking a series of cars, all trying to sticking to the dry line of the track.
With three minutes to go, mechanical failure forced Malcolm Scott to stop by the start-finish line, causing a red flag and an early finish to the race. Still pushing to catch race leader, Chris Dittmann, Kelly set the fastest lap of the race and took home his first second place victory of the weekend, the fastest lap was unfortunately withdrawn due to the red flag.
Seasons changed once again for the last race of the weekend, with temperatures rising to 18 degrees with blue skies all around.
A clear start from the line left Dittmann, Kelly and Sebastiani leading the pack as they all flew into Riches Corner. As the grid made their way into Wilson, a spin sent Heffernan to the back of the grid and left the CF Racing Driver fighting to gain back his position. It was then a cat and mouse fight for Sebastiani as he chased Kelly for the remainder of the race, but the number 11 car pushed ahead to take home a final second place victory to end the weekend.
With a series of mixed conditions, the skills and knowledge of the UWR team was put to the test. When asking student John Amor how his second ever race weekend went he said “We feel more prepared now that we’ve experienced a race pit-stop. We know where we went wrong; so we put a plan in place to know how to react next time. Driving in the wet really is a testament to the skill of the driver and the co-ordination of the team; it was exciting to watch and to be a part of!”
Coming out of their second round of the F3 up, UWR extends championship lead and Driver Shane Kelly is third in the running for the Sunoco Challenge.
Join the UWR team in their third round of the F3 Cup at Silverstone National 3rd – 4th June.