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GP Week : Issue 91
the first weekend double of the season. The result shot Palmer into a 12-point championship lead on 103 points ahead of Stoneman, as Eng dropped to third having failed to score a single point. Palmer and Stoneman's ding-dong battle continued unabated in Belgium at the following round, as Stoneman stole the initiative with a commanding performance of pole, win and fastest lap in Saturday's opening race. The Briton was utterly dominant throughout the 25 laps and won by 7.5secs, but Palmer kept the lead of the championship with second place, having jumped from fifth on the grid on the first lap. Neither were able to keep pace with Benjamin Bailly during Sunday's 22-lap outing however, and Stoneman even had to wait until the final four laps to overtake Jack Clark for third to ensure the minimum damage to his championship challenge, as leader Palmer took second. F2's next trip saw the series make camp at the world-renowned Portimao circuit in Portugal's Algarve region, and there was yet another hard-fought battle between Palmer and Stoneman for supremacy. Saturday's race went the way of Palmer after converting pole into victory, punctuated by a mid-race safety car period. Stoneman's weekend began badly with just ninth on the grid, but was looking a strong bet for fifth or higher having worked his way up the order until rival Eng made contact after the Safety Car. The resulting damage meant Stoneman could finish just 11th, outside the points, handing Palmer a 33- point championship advantage. Seven points of that advantage were immediately pulled back by Stoneman in the second race, when a blistering start saw him outgun polesitter Palmer into the first corner before romping clear to a four-second win. Despite still being 26 points behind Palmer in the table, such was the dominance of the pair in the first half-season that Stoneman was already 68 points ahead of third-placed Eng, with all but three of the ten wins having gone their way. The Formula Two circus made an emotional return to Brands Hatch last weekend, one year on from the tragic death of rising star Henry Surtees in a racing accident. Nevertheless, the competition was as fierce as ever as Stoneman looked to inflict further damage on Palmer's 26-point lead. The wheels were set in motion in the best possible way during Friday afternoon qualifying when Stoneman took a dominant pole position, lapping over four tenths quicker than the rest of the field. With Palmer starting just seventh, Stoneman had the perfect opportunity to blow the title fight wide open. And sure enough on Saturday afternoon, Stoneman produced a dazzling display to win by over eight seconds and record a fastest lap almost half a second quicker than any of his rivals. Although Palmer recovered to eighth to collect four points, the gap at the top was reduced to just five. Unfortunately for Stoneman however, luck would run against him again when a red flag was flown just as he was setting his quickest time for Race 2 qualifying on Saturday afternoon, dropping him from a potential pole to just seventh. Much to the delight of the fans, Palmer and Stoneman finally found themselves battling for position on-track during 26