With rounds two and three to come at a damp Oulton Park, the British F3 desk was up early to catch all the action.
Still riding high off the back of Billy Monger’s superb third place in Saturday’s race, it was an early start for round two of the opening weekend of the 2018 season. A new format this year saw the grid line up in reverse order from the finishing places in the previous round. Starting with Fortec’s Tristan Charpentier sitting in the front row, points were not only awarded for where a driver finishes but for how many places they gain, so it was all to play for right the way down the grid.
As the lights went out, Manuel Maldonado made an electric start from the third row of the grid, carving a way through the pack in a way that would have left his F1 cousin green with envy. Conditions were as difficult as they get as the field tentatively glided around the first corner. Jordan Cane was the first casualty, ending up lightly in the barriers on the outside of the corner.
As the field came round for the first lap, Maldonado held the lead from Charpentier, while Chris Dittmann Racing’s Chia Wing Hoong made a solid start to hold third at the end of the opening tour. Jamie Chadwick, who had made a solid start as well climbing from ninth on the grid, swarmed all over the Malaysian in fourth place. Further back, another lightning start from race one winner Linus Lundqvist saw him climb from 16th to seventh inside the opening lap, while Nicolai Kjaergaard and Clement Novalak were also inside the top-10 despite starting from the back two rows.
Maldonado stretched his lead to over a second at the end of lap two, while Chadwick made a move on Wing Hoong to move into the podium positions. The top three then began to bunch together, with just a second covering all three by the end of lap four.
The safety car was brought out on lap six, with Pavan Ravishankar stranded in the gravel and needing more than the AA to move him from his dangerous position. With conditions proving a challenge, the running order chopped and changed with Kjaergaard continuing his charge, climbing up to fifth while Lundqvist slipped to ninth.
With Ravishankar quickly back on track, the safety car pitted at the end of lap seven, with Maldonado still leading. Offs for Kush Maini and Wing Hoong meant the guys driving the safety car hardly had time to undo their seat belt before they were back out for the second time. Krish Mahadik spun while challenging Jamie Chadwick for third, and ended up facing the wrong way at Old Hall with the remainder of the pack doing well to avoid him. The safety car eventually became a red flag with just over a minute remaining on the clock. The results were therefore taken from the end of lap seven with Maldonado’s margin of victory being 0.393 seconds.
Remember with points awarded in this race for positions gained, Maldonado’s climb from sixth to first earned him an additional five points on top of the 20 already for the race win. The biggest gains were with the Carlin drivers Kjaergaard and Novalak, who gained 11 and 10 positions respectively, with Kjaergaard securing a total of 24 points from the race.
About his victory, a very pleased Maldonado said: “It was a great race but it was the start that won it for me!” he exclaimed afterwards. “It was a great start, not much wheelspin and before turn one I was in first position so I was really happy with that. The track was very tricky, every corner you felt like you were just surviving,” he admitted. “It was sketchy but it was great to keep it on track and then to win the race is even better.”
BRDC British F3 Championship, Oulton Park race two result:
- Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, 7 laps
- Tristan Charpentier, Fortec Motorsports, +0.393s
- Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, +0.750s
- Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, +2.469s
- Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, +2.849s
- Tom Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, +3.283s
- Clement Novalak, Carlin, +3.557s
- Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, +4.016s
- Billy Monger, Carlin, +5.115s
- Arvin Esmaeili, Douglas Motorsport, +11.779s
- Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +13.026s
- Ben Hurst, Hillspeed, +1 lap
- Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, +1 lap
- Pavan Ravishankar, Double R Racing, +1 lap
DNF. Krish Mahadik, Double R Racing
DNF. Chia Wing Hoong, Chris Dittmann Racing
DNF. Jordan Cane, Douglas Motorsport
Round three and race three kicked off early afternoon with grid positions decided on the fastest laps of race one (…still with me?), and Dane Kjaergaard, who started from pole, made a strong start to lead the field down to Old Hall with Lundqvist staying second. The track remained wet and rain kept falling throughout, making conditions difficult as Lundqvist ran wide at Hislops and dropped to fourth, with Gamble and Maini profiting.
Kjaergaard led by over two seconds at the end of the lap from Gamble, with Maini finally getting some luck and running towards the front. The gap stayed the same on lap two, but Gamble then began to close the gap down, with the lead at 1.4 seconds on lap three, and seven-tenths on lap five. The margin between the two never increased beyond 1.2 seconds for the remainder of the contest, with Kjaergaad beating the Brit by 0.814 seconds at the chequered flag.
Speaking after the race, a delighted Kjaergaard said: “We’ve had a really strong weekend from practice right way through to the last race. We’ve had really strong pace, a great car from Carlin, and a first win in the first round of the year so I’m very happy and hopefully we can keep it up for the rest of the year.” With tricky conditions all weekend, the Dane went on to say, “The problem was I was the first driver to get to each corner every time so I had to pick out the braking points and the lines, whereas I think Gamble followed me which was difficult for me as it got wetter and wetter on each lap and no lap was the same.”
Maini in third finished 1.125 seconds ahead of Carlin’s Novalak. With the grid based on fastest race laps, and Novalak not completing a lap in the much quicker race one on Saturday, he found himself at the back of the grid once more for race three. But – much like in race two – he performed a storm, climbing from 16th to 10th on the first lap, and then confidently picking off drivers for the remainder of the race, passing team mate Sun Yue Yang on lap two, Charpentier and Chadwick on lap three, and Mahadik on four. He then closed on team mate Monger and made a move on lap five before setting his sights on Lundqvist, who at that time was holding fourth. A five second margin was closed down to two seconds, and when Lundqvist ran over the grass and the position was Novalak’s. The Carlin driver then looked to close down on Maini, who was four seconds ahead, but ultimately finished just over a second behind.
Lundqvist completed his strong start to the season with fifth place, backing up his superb victory in race one and fighting eighth in race two, while Charpentier gained two places compared to his grid position to secure sixth. Chadwick also gained two places on her starting position, to finish ahead of Monger with a move on the final lap. Mahadik’s ninth was second top-10 result of the weekend, while race two winner Maldonado fought back from a pit-lane start to claim tenth.
BRDC British F3 Championship, race three result, Oulton Park
- Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, 12 lapsTom
- Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, +0.814s
- Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, +17.187s
- Clement Novalak, Carlin, +18.312s
- Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, +24.252sTristan
- Charpentier, Fortec Motorsports, +42.258s
- Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, +47.866s
- Billy Monger, Carlin, +49.151s
- Krish Mahadik, Double R Racing, +53.417s
- Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, +1m15.383s
- Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +1m22.034s
- Pavan Ravishankar, Double R Racing, +1m23.153s
- Arvin Esmaeili, Douglas Motorsport, +1 lap
- Ben Hurst, Hillspeed, +1 lap
DNF. Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, +3 laps
DNF. Chia Wing Hoong, Chris Dittmann Racing, 7 laps completed
The standings of the BDRC British F3 after rounds one, two and three are as follows;
- Kjaergaard, N : 88pts
- Lundqvist, L : 70pts
- Gamble, T : 67pts
- Maini, K : 50pts
- Chadwick, J : 49pts
- Monger, B : 49pts
- Maldonado, M : 46pts
- Novalak, C : 40pts
- Charpentier, T : 39pts
- Mahadik, K : 31pts
Rounds four, five and six will take place at Rockingham on the 28th and 29th April. As always, Overtake will be here to bring you all the action.