Rookie Calado sets pace in opening F3 test
Today was the first day of term for the new and old boys of the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series as the pre-season testing ban came to a close and a field of 22 Dallara chassis tackled a damp and cold Snetterton to establish an early pecking order for the coming season.
And it was a new boy who emerged on top: 21-year-old James Calado (Pershore), the Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver who moves up to British F3 after success in junior formulae. Calado and his Volkswagen-powered Carlin car emerged quickest in the wet morning session by three-thousandths and went faster still in the drier afternoon conditions to end the day on top. "It's gone well," said James, "and I've learned a lot from today, which is the key thing."
Snetterton local Alex Brundle (Kings Lynn) ran Calado quickest in the morning on his first outing at the wheel of an International-class F3 car. Brundle enjoyed his debut for the T-Sport team: "Snetterton is home and of course it's one of my favourite tracks. It's been a good day and we've made a lot of progress."
Carlin, champions in 2008 with Jaime Alguersuari and 2009 courtesy Daniel Ricciardo, unveiled the latest addition to their driving strength today: Brazilian Adriano Buzaid, who was a race-winner last season with T-Sport. Buzaid ended his first day with his new team in fourth position; Carlin's other men - Jean-Eric Vergne, Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Jazeman Jaafar - all claimed top-11 positions.
T-Sport's National Class signing, Menasheh Idafar, put on a sterling show on his favourite circuit, romping to sixth-best time overall in the morning and ninth overall in the afternoon, just ahead of his new team-mate, reigning Formula Ford Champion James Cole.
Brazilian Gabriel Dias endured a tough start to his new career with Hitech Racing: braking problems led to a spin early on and damage to his chassis which kept him off the track for most of the day.
Teams spokesman Peter Briggs was delighted by the turn-out at Snetterton: "We have 50 per cent more cars at our first test this season than last, and that's a great and very encouraging result. It's fantastic also to see so many international drivers choosing British F3; the prospects are bright for a superb season."
There's further testing tomorrow (Thursday) at Snetterton ahead of a two-day session at Rockingham next week. The championship's opening rounds are at Oulton Park over the Easter weekend (3-5 Apr). British F3 is sponsored by US tire manufacturer Cooper Tire and is further supported by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and Mirror.co.uk
Cooper Tires British F3 official testing
Snetterton, Norfolk, 24 Feb 2010
Leading International runners am / pm
1 James CALADO / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 11.052s / 1m 10.428s
2 Jean-Eric VERGNE / FRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 11.336s / 1m 10.770s
3 Alex BRUNDLE / GBR, T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 11.055s / 1m 12.232s
4 Adriano BUZAID / BRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 11.749s / 1m 11.057s
5 Oli WEBB / GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 1m 11.285s / 1m 11.503s
6 William BULLER / GBR, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 11.442s / 1m 12.190s
7 Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 11.777s / 1m 11.996s
8 Carlos HUERTAS / COL, RR Dallara-Mercedes 1m 11.875s / 1m 12.528s
9 Daisuke NAKAJIMA / JPN, RR Dallara-Mercedes 1m 12.008s / 1m 12.168s
10 Felipe NASR / BRA, RR Dallara-Mercedes 1m 13.258s / 1m 12.290s
11 Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 12.802s / 1m 12.685s
12 Daniel McKENZIE / GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 1m 13.841s / 1m 12.826s
13 Jay BRIDGER / GBR, Litespeed Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 14.704s / 1m 12.966s
14 Lucas FORESTI / BRA, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 13.826s / no time
15 Hywel LLOYD / GBR, CF Racing Dallara-Mercedes no time / 1m 13.280s
16 Adderly FONG / CHN, Sino Vision Dallara-Mercedes 1m 14.511s / 1m 14.920s
17 Gabriel DIAS / BRA, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 15.109s / 1m 17.625s
Leading National Class runners
1 Menasheh IDAFAR / GBR, T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda 1m 11.706s / 1m 12.503s
2 James COLE / GBR, T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda 1m 13.154s / 1m 13.104s
3 Alex JONES / GBR, West-Tec Dallara-Mugen Honda 1m 14.454s / 1m 14.075s
4 Craig REIFF / GER, Litespeed-Mugen Honda 1m 14.124s / 1m 14.706s
Pietro FANTIN / BRA, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 13.659s / 1m 13.325s