Poles and Podiums for Pull at Snetterton
With the sun beating down on the Norfolk circuit on Thursday morning, James Pull wasted no time in proving his pace for the weekend ahead. Setting the bar for the rest of the field, the 17-year-old topped the timing sheets for the first two sessions with some blistering laps, whilst teammate Ahmed narrowly took the lead in the afternoon. With Carlin giving a supreme showing of speed, it was clear the crowd were in for a tight battle at the sharp end of the grid.
As the weather played it’s hand to soak the track, mere moments before qualifying got underway, the challenge mounted as James set his sights on snatching pole position. No stranger to wet conditions, James tenaciously carved his way round the drying ribbon of tarmac, using every inch of track to set the early pace. Rapidly trading fastest spot with Ahmed, it was a nail-biting, tense battle throughout, with James powering to within 0.05s of his teammate. With the track drying further, all eyes were trained on the Carlin pair, as James fired to a 2.00.192s, there was nothing Ahmed could do to match his time. Clinching pole position in tricky conditions, James set his focus on converting his pace into the race win.
With a dry track beneath them, the grid roared off the line at lights out, James mastering his start to maintain the lead into turn one. With Ahmed and Sowery squabbling for position behind, the Singapore-born racer powered his way around the 2.9-mile Norfolk circuit, leading the pack into Lap 2. Pushing to the limit, James found himself making a small mistake into Williams, running wide his exit was compromised. With Ahmed having reclaimed 2nd place, the Carlin teammate capitalised on the slipstream, to clinch the lead from Pull as they headed down the Bentley Straight. Following a brief safety car period, the pack bunched up, with baited breath the crowd watched on as the race resumed, Pull managing the pressure from Sowery and O’Keeffe behind. With resolute focus, James carved an inch-perfect race, to take a hard-earned second place and secure a 1-2 for the Carlin outfit.
Lining up in 7th on the reverse grid, the chase was set, pulling the visor on his fresh new fluro-green helmet, the spirited young driver focussed on taking every opportunity to clinch as many points as possible. Giving it power off the line, it soon became apparent that he had suffered a puncture on the way to the grid, managing a rapidly shredding tyre he struggled back to the pits. Never one to be downhearted, the Carlin team bolted on a set of fresh new boots for James, determined about setting a fast lap time to put him in good stead for race three.
Despite the puncture, James qualified on the front row alongside Ahmed for the final foray of the weekend. With the rival Carlin getting a marginally better grip off the start, the pack of talented young racers headed down into Riches grappling for position. As Sowery made a lunge to claim 2nd, James stayed hooked on his tail, fiercely challenging the Lanan driver as they began to pull away from the pack. Taking the chequered flag in third place, another podium and a healthy haul of points rounded off a great performance, in what proved to be a tricky weekend for the Carlin driver.
“Pretty up and down weekend, but plenty of positives to be taken. Qualifying was obviously really good allowing me to show my pace. I suffered a little mistake which cost me the win in race one, whilst a mis-shift cost me a place in race three. Just tiny mistakes that cost me positions, which is something I can learn from, but I still earned a lot of points which is great.”
With 179 points in his pocket, James is confident he can challenge for the win next time out, as the BRDC F3 Championship hits the track at the home of British motorsport - Silverstone on 10th-11th June.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back out in Silverstone, as I know we’ll be fast there. I’m focussed on scoring as many points as possible and for sure, I’m confident the win will come”