Saturday got underway with FP1, which looked set to provide a competitive session. At 9.25am the green flag dropped and all 31 cars headed for the circuit for the first laps of the weekend.
With both cars working their run plans and tyre scrubbing, it was a productive session. Chris Smiley finished with a time of 58.746, putting him in 11th place and Dan Lloyd with a time of 58.852 putting him in 18th. With less than a second separating the top 22 cars, anything could happen.
Starting on time at 12.05, FP2 saw changes in set up for both cars with Chris maximising the free air around him, finishing just 2 tenths off pole in a time of 58.693 seconds, placing him 5th. Dan progressed through the session, ending with a time of 58.743, putting him in 12th place. With both drivers completing over 27 laps, it was a great opportunity to get to grips with the circuit.
Qualifying unfortunately did not work in in the teams favour. After both drivers got stuck in traffic, the decision was made to bring them in for a tyre change with the aim of releasing them into clear air and giving them the chance to put in those fast laps. Unluckily with Chris and Dan in the pit lane, the red flag was shown for an incident on track which brought all the cars back into the pit lane and scuppered the teams plan.
With the return of the green flag, both drivers spent the remaining time stuck in traffic. A frustrating qualifying all round, with Dan lining up on the grid in 16th, and Chris in 20th.
Speaking after qualifying Dan said “I am a bit disappointed. The car is great and has good form and it’s just a shame that the red flag ruined our plan for clear air. I am looking forward to tomorrow, especially with the chance of rain.”
Although finishing 20th wasn’t the plan, Chris was upbeat saying “the car had great pace… it was just unfortunate with the traffic and the red flag. After FP2 finishing in 5th, it would have been nice to be up there but tomorrow is a new day. I will get my head down and aim for a top 10 finish.”
Photography: Phil Laughton