Scott Pye and Double R on top at Oulton Park

Australian charger Scott Pye boosted his and the Double R team’s fortunes today at Oulton Park in testing for the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series, the 21-year-old comfortably the quickest man on the Cheshire circuit which will play host to the championship at Easter.

Pye’s Mercedes-engined Dallara lapped the 2.7-mile Oulton International circuit in 1m 27.621s, more than a second inside last year’s pole position time set by eventual champion Jean-Eric Vergne. Pye, who has yet to make his F3 race debut, made his mark in the first of the day’s three test sessions and, though there was dry, sunny weather throughout, nobody – Pye included – could better the time.

It was a happy return to Oulton for Scott, who won twice there last year on his way to the British Formula Ford championship title. Said Scott: “I am really pleased with the way things have gone today. I love Oulton Park; it’s my favorite circuit, and I was on top here the first time I drove it in testing in a Formula Ford. Double R has done some valuable development work between the official tests and we have made big strides forward. I was quick on old tires and new, so it bodes well for us. I just can’t wait to get to Monza now."

Menasheh Idafar was another star of the morning session, the T-Sport driver – last year’s British F3 National Class Champion – setting second-best time to Pye and coming within three-tenths of the Australian on old rubber. The frontrunners in session two were Carlin men Rupert Svendsen-Cook (an Oulton race winner in 2010) and Felipe Nasr. In session three, Carlin’s Carlos Huertas pipped Hitech man Pietro Fantin to top spot by a tenth.

In the Rookie class, T-Sport’s Dutch driver Bart Hylkema led his 16-year-old class rival, Hitech pilot Kotaru Sakurai, all day but the Japanese driver, in only his second day of Formula 3 testing, came within a second despite damaging his car in the first session.

Others in the wars today included Jazeman Jaafar, who crashed early in session one and spent the rest of the day playing catch-up, and Adderly Fong, who damaged his Sino Vision Racing machine in a second-session crash; Fong was briefly knocked unconscious in the incident and was taken to hospital for precautionary checks.

The final collective test sessions between now and the start of the season begin in a fortnight’s time at the new Snetterton 300 circuit. After two days in Norfolk the teams and drivers will head straight to Italy for the championship’s opening races at Monza over the weekend of 16/17 April.

Leading runners sessions 1 / 2 / 3 (fastest time in bold)

1 Scott PYE / AUS, Double R Dallara-Mercedes 1:27.621 / 1:28.735 / 1:28.429
2 Menasheh IDAFAR / GBR, T-Sport Dallara-VW 1:27.989 / 1:28.662 / 1:28.445
3 Carlos HUERTAS / COL, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1:28.093 / 1:28.800 / 1:28.207
4 Pietro FANTIN / BRA, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen 1:29.436 / 1:29.517 / 1:28.332
5 Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK / GBR, Carlin Dallara-VW 1:28.501 / 1:28.339 / 1:28.381
6 Pipo DERANI / BRA, Double R Dallara-Mercedes 1:29.553 / 1:28.653 / 1:28.346
7 Felipe NASR / BRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1:28.737 / 1:28.518 / 1:28.402
8 Kevin MAGNUSSEN / DEN, Carlin Dallara-VW 1:28.481 / 1:29.345 / 1:28.993
9 Lucas FORESTI / BRA, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 1:30.557 / 1:29.342 / 1:28.643
10 Harry TINCKNELL / GBR, Fortec Dallara-Merc 1:29.925 / 1:29.181 / 1:28.701 etc

1 Bart HYLKEMA / NED, T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda 1:31.322 / 1:30.821 / 1:30.618
2 Kotaru SAKURAI / JAP, Hitech Dallara-Mugen Honda 1:31.771 / no time / 1:31.877

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