Saturday's 30-minute qualifying session was a dramatic affair. A torrential downpour minutes before the start of the session created a flurry of activity, forcing the slick shod field to switch to grooved wet weather Michelin tyres. As the drivers began their first exploratory lap Ethan Hawkey (Redline Racing) aquaplaned off the circuit at Barcroft ending his session and bringing out the red flags. Following a 15-minute delay qualifying was restarted with a reduced session time of 20-minutes.
Dorlin set the initial pace but as the times began to tumble he came under pressure from Theo Edgerton (Total Control Racing) and Sarah Moore (IN2 Racing). In Am it was a fight between Perfetti, Ian Humphris (Valluga) and newcomer Paul Donkin (Redline Racing). In a session punctuated by wet weather spells, a dry line did begin to form in the final five minutes. Dorlin improved his time to maintain command of the session, he would end qualifying 0.467secs ahead of Edgerton. On her last lap Moore secured third overall – she would form the second row of the grid with an impressive Perfetti, the Am championship leader qualified just 0.084secs ahead of Donkin with Humphris third in category.
For recording the fastest times in their respective categories, Dorlin – Pro and Perfetti – Am each received one championship point. Following the session Jackson was disqualified from qualifying due to a technical non compliance issue. He would start the weekend's first race at the back of the grid with a 10-second delayed start.
The first of the weekend's two races took place on Saturday. Mixed weather conditions made tyre choice tricky with a damp but drying track – all drivers with the exception of Jackson opted for grooved wet weather Michelin tyres. At the end of the formation lap Jackson took to the pit lane, electing to make his delayed start from there. When the lights went out the field got away well, Dorlin maintained his lead into the first corner followed by Edgerton and Moore. Hamilton made the best start to the race though, moving up to fourth by passing newcomer Donkin and Am runner Perfeftti on the opening lap. In their battle for third in Am, Humphris soon overtook Rice at the Hairpin but would pit just one lap later promoting Rice back to the final podium position – this made the category order Perfetti, Donkin and Rice.
On lap six a charging Hamilton got a run on Moore coming out of the Complex, moving alongside her as they approached the final Hairpin. Though Moore defended her position the YouTube star finalised his pass to occupy third overall as they exited the corner. As the track gradually dried Jackson's slick tyres came into their own and he began to improve his lap times. By lap 10 the championship hopeful was lapping within one-second of the cars ahead – all still shod with wet tyres – but by this time the deficit to the car ahead was too great. Falling temperatures and fading late afternoon light kept conditions cool and slippery, several drivers struggled for traction in particular out of the final corner.
Headlights ablaze in now dark conditions, Dorlin crossed the line to take his fifth win of the season and the lead of the championship by three points. Edgerton finished the race where he started in second spot, Hamilton took third – the fifth time he has stood on the final step of the podium this season. Jackson came home sixth almost a full lap down, he was classified as the final Pro category runner. In Am, Perfetti closed in on the category title, narrowly taking his sixth category victory by just 0.274secs from a pursuing Donkin. Rice was the final Am category podium finisher. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Dorlin – Pro, and Perfetti – Am each received one additional championship point.
The grid for the day's second race was determined by the finishing positions from Race One – Peter Chambers (JRT) would not take part. Following his result in Race One, Perfetti was in touching distance of the Am category championship – requiring a fifth place category finish in Race Two to clinch the title. When the lights went out at the start of the race Hamilton got away well, passing Edgerton for second, but the youngster stayed with his rival, gaining a run as they approached Tower Bend to retake the position. At the start of the second lap Jackson mounted a challenge to pass Perfetti out of the Hairpin, the pair made contact on the straight sending Perfetti off onto the grass, Jackson collided with the pit wall ending his day and causing the race to be red flagged.
Perfetti recovered his car back to the pits and would take the restart from there, now in last position. The race was reduced in distance from 25- to 20-minutes or 12 laps – whichever came first. At the restart the front row starters got away cleanly, Moore was slightly slow away slipping down to P6 as a result. Later into the lap Pro category driver Moore made a move to pass Am driver Rice, she was followed through by Hawkey. On lap two, Moore ran wide on the exit of Tower, Hawkey used this to his advantage to get by her but Rice stayed behind. At Chicane on the following lap Moore suffered a spin, Rice took to the grass in an attempt to avoid her but contact was made causing both cars to retire with damage. The Safety Car was called into action.
The restart took place on lap seven with just under 10-minutes remaining on the clock. A recovering Perfetti soon overtook Carl Cavers (Valluga) for seventh overall and third in the Am category. In the battle for third overall Hawkey closed in on Hamilton who was forced to start defending his position on lap 10. Hawkey gained a run down the straight as they entered lap 11, drawing alongside Hamilton before they entered Cleraux line astern. Hamilton clipped the entry kerb giving Hawkey enough momentum to pull alongside him into Hawthorne Bend, the pair made contact causing Hamilton's immediate retirement from the race.
Dorlin's victory was his sixth of the season, he also gained one additional championship point for recording the fastest lap in the Pro category – he now heads to the championship finale at Silverstone with a healthy championship advantage. Edgerton took his sixth podium result of the season, Hawkey made his second podium appearance. In Am Donkin's maiden category victory and fastest lap left him delighted, Humphris took second in category and Perfetti third. With his result Perfetti provisionally secured the Am category championship title.
Following the race Perfetti was deducted two championship points for an incident under yellow flag conditions. The collision between Hawkey and Hamilton was deemed a racing incident and no further action was taken. The incident with Perfetti and Jackson will be reviewed at the next weekend.
James Dorlin IN2 Racing 93
Tom Jackson Rob Boston Racing 79
Theo Edgerton TCR 56
Ambrogio Perfetti IN2 Racing 82
Ian Humphris Valluga 65
Nigel Rice Redline Racing 54
*results remain provisional
The reports of previous seasons can be found in our news archive.