All eyes might be on the glamour and swag of Monaco this weekend but there were points to be won and scores to be settled as the BRDC British F3 Championship arrived at Snetterton for rounds seven, eight and nine. Who wants champagne and yachts when you can have instant coffee, service station sarnies and a Mini Cooper which should have been cleaned last week…?
The sun was clearly shining on Danish talent Nicolai Kjaergaard. Carlin’s teenage ace, hot off the back of Overtake’s exclusive interview earlier in the month, claimed pole position in qualifying for race one, just sneaking past title rival and fellow Scandinavian Linus Lundqvist by 0.243 seconds. The all-crucial lap came midway through the session, and was enough to secure his second pole of the season.
Lanan Racing’s Kush Maini set the pace early on and eventually claimed third, just 0.011 seconds behind Lundqvist, with Sasakorn Chaimongkol putting in his best qualifying effort so far for Hillspeed with the fourth fastest time – but still over half a second away from Kjaergaard.
There was an excellent performance from new boy Harry Webb on his home track. An excellent fifth for Chris Dittmann Racing was the local boy’s reward, 0.048 seconds ahead of Jordan Cane, who won twice at this track last year. Tristan Charpentier claimed seventh for Fortec.
The tiniest of margins separated the usual runners and riders. Billy Monger chipped away through the order during the session and secured eighth, 0.031 seconds behind Charpentier and 0.067 seconds ahead of Fortec’s Tom Gamble. Hillspeed’s Jusuf Owega completed the top-10. Only a second separated first and tenth.
Manuel Maldonado was just 0.009 seconds off Owega’s time, and was 0.005 seconds in front of Sun Yue Yang, who in turn was 0.027 seconds ahead of Pavan Ravishankar. The Singaporean’s team mate Krish Mahadik was 0.028 seconds behind, with Jamie Chadwick was just 0.002s behind the Indian. Arvin Esmaeili and Ben Hurst completed the 17 runners for this weekend.
Kjaergaard had this to say about securing his second pole position: “We’ve been strong in all practice sessions ahead of qualifying this season, but this is the first qualifying that we’ve had where we’ve put it all together and got pole, so I’m really happy with that. The track is very fast today, definitely faster than yesterday and I was a lot quicker than I could manage in testing. I hope it will stay in the same condition for the race this afternoon. I think it’s going to be a season long battle with Linus, we have shown we are strong in all conditions on every track so far so I think he’s a good contender and a strong driver that I need to look out for during the rest of the year.”
BRDC British F3 Championship, Snetterton qualifying result:
1. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, 1m43.526s
2. Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, +0.243s
3. Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, +0.254s
4. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +0.545s
5. Harry Webb, Chris Dittmann Racing, +0.708s
6. Jordan Cane, Douglas Motorsport, +0.756s
7. Tristan Charpentier, Fortec Motorsports, +0.910s
8. Billy Monger, Carlin, +0.941s
9. Tom Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, +1.008s
10. Jusuf Owega, Hillspeed, +1.060s
11. Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, +1.069s
12. Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, +1.074s
13. Pavan Ravishankar, Double R Racing, +1.101s
14. Krish Mahadik, Double R Racing, +1.129s
15. Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, +1.131s
16. Arvin Esmaeili, Douglas Motorsport, +1.918s
17. Ben Hurst, Hillspeed, +2.940s
On to race one and following on from his stellar pole in the morning session, Kjaergaard claimed his second victory of the year, leading from start to finish. An interview with Overtake followed by a clean sweep on day one – that’s the F3 desk’s guarantee!
The Dane made a great start and kept Lundqvist a second behind him at all times, with a mistake by the Swede late-on promoting Maini to second, with Lundqvist taking third. The result means an all-Scandinavian tie with Kjaergaard and Lundqvist at the top of the championship standings, and Kjaergaard the new championship leader by virtue of more second place finishes.
Jordan Cane came home in fourth for Douglas Motorsport, dueling throughout with local lad Webb. Frenchman Charpentier was sixth for Fortec, holding off Carlin’s other teenage star Monger, with Tom Gamble, Sun Yue Yang and Mahadik seeing out the top-10.
Kjaergaard stormed away from pole position, leading to Riches away from Lundqvist and Maini, while fourth-placed starter Chaimongkol undid all his hard work from the morning. His nightmare getaway led to his plummeting down the order to 14th. Kjaergaard led by just over a second at the end of lap one, a margin he stuck to throughout the early stages, with the front two evenly matched, the pair setting lap times within 0.003 seconds of each other on lap three.
The Dane extended the lead marginally to 1.2 seconds on lap four, but by lap eight, Lundqvist had begun to get into the zone and started to eat into the lead, with the gap just below a second before Lundqvist made a small mistake at Hamilton on the penultimate lap and in doing so handed second place to Maini, and forfeiting the championship lead.
Maini’s second place, his fourth podium of the year, takes him to third in the championship standings, while Lundqvist was clearly disappointed on the podium afterward, but noted that his fourth consecutive podium result is still good for the championship.
Cane gained two places on his starting position, but was challenged throughout by Webb, who despite a lack of testing showed he has good pace, and a keen racing eye and finished 0.347 seconds behind his fellow Brit.
Charpentier in sixth was 0.7 seconds ahead of Monger, who shadowed the Frenchman throughout and finished 0.7 seconds behind, and 0.391 seconds ahead of Charpentier’s team mate Gamble.
Sun Yue Yang finished ninth, and almost five seconds clear of Mahadik, who was just half a second clear of the Chaimongkol who was still limiting the damage from his awful start. The Thai driver showed his pace by picking off challengers as he made his way round.
Maldonado, who finished last after a late off, will benefit from race two’s reverse grid starting from pole position, while Lundqvist claimed fastest lap, potentially giving him pole for race three should no one better his time in the second contest.
Speaking after the race, Kjaergaard said:
“Linus was very close, and I saw in the assembly area before the start of the race that he had new tyres on, so I knew he would be fast in the first few laps. I managed to keep a gap, though, and in the end I had good pace and I think the new tyres went off a bit for him, which was good for me. Towards the end he was getting a little bit closer and I could see him in my mirrors, but then he ran wide at turn five and he lost out and made it a lot easier for me in the last two laps. I start at the back tomorrow and I think it will be a very exciting race. We have good pace and hopefully we can come up through the field and set a good lap time to get as good a start position as possible for race three.”
Race two and three will follow tomorrow (Sunday 27th) and, as always, Overtake will bring you all the action.
BRDC British F3 Championship, Snetterton race one result:
- Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, 10 laps
- Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, +4.684s
- Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, +5.854s
- Jordan Cane, Douglas Motorsport, +10.233s
- Harry Webb, Chris Dittmann Racing, +10.580s
- Tristan Charpentier, Fortec Motorsports, +14.252s
- Billy Monger, Carlin, +14.994s
- Tom Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, +15.385s
- Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, +17.670s
- Krishnaraaj Mahadik, Double R Racing, +22.512s
- Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +23.043s
- Jusuf Owega, Hillspeed, +23.741s
- Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, +25.421s
- Pavan Ravishankar, Double R Racing, +29.894s
- Arvin Esmaeili, Douglas Motorsport, +31.678s
- Ben Hurst, Hillspeed, +34.678s
- Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, +59.601s