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Norris snatches British F3 pole from team-mate Collard

Sunday, March 27 2016

In a dramatic first BRDC British Formula 3 qualifying session of the year, it was Carlin's Lando Norris who snatched pole position for race one at Snetterton on his very last lap, knocking his stable-mate Ricky Collard off top spot. After a brief red flag session just past halfway in the session, it was the final lap for each driver that would count the most and Norris saved his best till last to secure pole position in an extremely close qualifying which saw the top-five covered by just 0.214s.

A bright Snetterton 300 circuit greeted the drivers for the first action of the BRDC British Formula 3 weekend, although strong, swirling winds ensured conditions on track were difficult for all 21 cars. As the green flag signalled the beginning of the session, every driver filtered on to the track and began building up heat in their Pirelli P-Zero tyres.

As times continued to drop as more competitive laps were set, a number of different drivers spent time atop the timing screens with Ricky Collard initially fastest before the Douglas Motorsport pairing of Enaam Ahmed and Thomas Randle moved up to first and second. Fortec Motorsports Tarun Reddy then went fastest before Carlin's Collard re-established himself at the top with a 1m45.263s.

With 10 minutes elapsed, and the session halfway through, Lanan Racing's Toby Sowery jumped up to third but was soon demoted down to fourth by Tarun Reddy who took the spot. Sowery fought back however and improved his personal best, falling just 0.074s shy of Collard's provisional pole time to move into second. Lando Norris jumped up to third and was on an improving lap but the red flags flew to halt the session.

That left seven minutes, 19 seconds on the clock once the session resumed, ensuring that the last lap of each driver would potentially be their quickest of the session and setting up a dramatic qualifying finale.

With two minutes remaining, Norris moved into top spot with a 1m45.048s putting him 0.215s quicker than Collard but the 2015 MSA Formula runner-up responded brilliantly to snatch back first place on his next lap. As the chequered flag flew, Indian Reddy looked to have secured pole position as he went quickest but both Collard and Norris lurked behind on their last laps and sure enough Collard moved back ahead as time elapsed. That put all the pressure back on Norris as he blasted up the Senna Straight but he didn't disappoint as he bested Collard by just 0.041s to claim pole position for race one.

Behind the top-three came Lanan Racing's Toby Sowery with Matheus Leist fifth fastest. His team-mate Aleksanteri Huovinen claimed sixth with the Douglas Motorsport pairing of Randle and Ahmed seventh and eighth, with Omar Ismail and Jan Jonck rounding out the top-10.

Race one of the 2016 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship season gets underway at 15:35 at Snetterton and you can follow all the action through live timing and updates on the official British F3 website.

BRDC British Formula 3 - Snetterton - Qualifying

1. Lando Norris, Carlin, 1m44.570s
2. Ricky Collard, Carlin, +0.041s
3. Tarun Reddy, Fortec Motorsport, +0.136s
4. Toby Sowery, Lanan Racing, +0.198s
5. Matheus Leist, Double R Racing, +0.214s
6. Aleksanteri Huovinen, Double R Racing, +0.448s
7. Thomas Randle, Douglas Motorsport, +0.517s
8. Enaam Ahmed, Douglas Motorsport, +0.649s
9. Omar Ismail, HHC Motorsport, +1.113s
10. Jan Jonck, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +1.119s
11. Al Faisal Al Zubair, Fortec Motorsports, +1.279s
12. Thomas Maxwell, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +1.447s
13. Quinlan Lall, Chris Dittmann Racing, +1.453s
14. Ben Hingeley, HHC Motorsport, +1.550s
15. Enzo Bortoleto, Double R Racing, +1.604s
16. Eugene Denyssen, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +1.626s
17. Akhil Rabindra, Lanan Racing, +1.671s
18. Paul Sieljes, Chris Dittmann Racing, +2.089s
19. Ameya Vaidyanathan, Carlin, +2.110s
20. Sisa Ngebulana, HHC Motorsport, +2.393s
21. Jeremy Wahome, Chris Dittmann Racing, +2.498s