Alan van der Merwe headed the first qualifying session at Donington Park this afternoon [Friday] to take pole position for this weekend's round 21 of the British F3 Championship gripped by Avon Tyres.

In the Scholarship class Ernesto Viso [P1 Motorsport] underlined his claim to the title by heading the times from T Sports drivers Steven Kane and Karun Chandhok.

With only half a second covering the top 11 cars in qualifying, the session proved disastrous for title contender Jamie Green, who started the session late and could only post eleventh best time as his team-mate van der Merwe set the pace.

"That's one step closer," said van der Merwe [Carlin Motorsport] of his bid to clinch the British F3 title this weekend. "I want to win the race and I've got the pace to win," he added. "It was a strange session, with people flying off, gravel all over the tracks and yellow flags."

However, it was Green who suffered most in a session that all but wrecked his remaining slim championship hopes. Having waited for the right window to launch his qualifying attack, Green hit gear selection problems, which cost him more time. When he was finally out and running, the gravel dragged onto the circuit and higher ambient temperatures cost him any chance of rivalling his team-mate van der Merwe.

Close behind the South African were Danny Watts [Hitech Racing], Rob Austin [Menu F3 Motorsport] and Fairuz Fauzy [Promatecme F3], all displaying the pace to take the fight to van der Merwe on Saturday afternoon. For Austin, it was a strong showing on his return to racing after nearly two months out of the cockpit.

Viso, meanwhile, was pleased to put five Championship class cars between him and his Scholarship rivals on the grid. "That's good for me, but I could improve for sure. I should have been quicker; the car feels very good," he added.



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