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Cheever III and Canuti claim opening SpeedFest poles

Saturday, June 07 2014

Eddie Cheever III, son of IndyCar great of the same name, claimed a last gasp pole for today's opening NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race at Brands Hatch. The Italian denied three-time Brands Hatch winner Ander Vilarino with just seconds left in a dramatic qualifying session.

The top 18 were covered by just 0.7 seconds, and the top four split by less than one tenth of a second emphasising the close racing in store.

Frederic Gabillon missed out on a front row start by just 0.003s, instead lining up third ahead of Borja Garcia. Mathias Lauda used his Brands Hatch knowledge to claim fifth on the grid ahead of 1993 Le Mans winner Christophe Bouchut.

London-born Swede Freddy Nordstrom spent the opening exchanges on provisional pole but slipped down the timing screens to 12th by the chequered flag, still only 0.4s off pole.

The session was disrupted by a red flag with six minutes to go after a flurry of NASCARs fell into the Paddock Hill gravel. Vilarino restarted the session as fastest, but was denied by Cheever's late flyer.

The Elite 2 qualifying was played out in very different conditions thanks to a heavy but brief shower whicjh returned midway through the session. Bouchut's Elite 2 team-mate Marsilio Canuti impressed to take a dominant pole position.

Brazilian Paulo Bonifacio was closest to the Italian, 0.8s adrift. Lauda's teammate Francesca Linossi claimed third while Marcal Melo made it two Brazilians in the top four. Maxiime Dumarey starts fifth alongside British debutant Bradley Smith

Elite 1 top six classification

  1. Eddie Cheever III - 48.941s                                
  2. Ander Vilarino - +0.013s
  3. Frederic Gabillon - +0.016s                                 
  4. Borja Garcia - +0.041s
  5. Mathias Lauda - +0.132s 
  6. Christophe Bouchut - +0.144s     

Elite 2 top six classification

  1. Marsilio Canuti - 57.936s 
  2. Paulo Bonifacio - +0.897s                      
  3. Francessca Linossi  - +1.136s                 
  4. Marcal Melo - +1.418s                
  5. Maxiime Dumarey - +1.507s                    
  6. Bradley Smith - +1.864s 

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series races take place at 12.35pm for the Elite 1 drivers and 17.00pm for Elite 2. 

Click here for the full result

Tickets for today's racing cost £14, with free admission for under 13s. Tickets to Sunday's main event cost £25 on the gate. Visit www.Speedfest.co.uk for more details.