The BRDC British F3 championship was blown wide open as Danish ace Nicolai Kjaergaard capitalised on tricky conditions at Donnington Park for rounds 19, 20 and 21. Sun Yue Yang claimed his first British F3 victory, but it was a weekend to forget for championship leader Linus Lundqvist who was looking to wrap the season up.
Before the weekend unpacked its suitcase of crazy, qualifying took place and Billy Monger stormed to pole position in the morning’s qualifying session, 0.173 seconds clear of team mate Nicolai Kjaergaard.
In a frantic session, Monger posted the fastest time in the final five minutes – at the circuit where he suffered his life changing accident last year…
Top spot was passed around throughout the session, Kush Mani and Kjaergaard both topping the sheet but those efforts were eclipsed by Monger’s late surge. Chris Dittmann Racing’s Ayrton Simmons claimed third on the grid, 0.024 seconds ahead of Hillspeed’s Jusuf Owega, with Manuel Maldonado fifth for Fortec Motorsports.
Less than a second covered Monger in pole down to championship leader Lundqvist, whose difficulties from testing earlier in week continued into Saturday morning with an unfamiliar 14th place.
The session came to an early halt when Ben Hurst spun into the gravel with five minutes on the clock.
When the session resumed, Monger was a man on a mission, posting a 1m24.769s to take a famous and much-needed pole for the afternoon. An incredible achievement and a testimony to the focus and talent the youngster has.
Monger has this to say on his first British F3 pole; “To come back here, with the meaning this circuit has to me and my first race back here, to get pole is an awesome way for me to start the weekend. It’s something that I knew was doable, especially after the last few rounds where we’ve come so close and I’ve made mistakes. Today was all about doing the job and we’ve definitely done that.
It’s never that easy to plan it all out, we had an idea of what our run was going to be like. To be honest, with it being so cold here today and potential rain this afternoon, I just wanted to make sure my tyres were fully up to temperature before I started to push so during the middle of the session, my laps, although they were still competitive, weren’t fully committed, and it wasn’t until I got to the last few laps I knew everything was up to temperature and I just went for it, had a nice space on the circuit and did two laps good enough for pole.
In a race situation I’m going to feel a bit different, I was a bit nervous before that qualifying but I tried to use every bit of energy that I had to spur me on for qualifying and hopefully I can repeat that for the race. Depending on if I win the race or not, the £150 pole prize might go on some booze so I can make the [Carlin] boys drink out of my [prosthetic] leg!”
Overcast conditions continued into race one at Donnington Park and the championship was blown wide open as Carlin’s Kjaergaard converted his front row start into his fourth win of the year and adding more pressure to championship leader Lundqvist’s difficult weekend.
Kjaergaard got the better start from pole sitter and team mate Monger, and then led the race from lights to flag, keeping cool under late pressure from fellow Carlin driver Jamie Caroline, who rose from sixth on the grid to claim second, with Krishnaraaj Mahadik taking the final podium spot in third.
In the end Monger had to settled for fourth, having fallen as far back as sixth at one point, with the British driver fending off a race-long battle with Lanan Racing’s Maini. Ayrton Simmons held a podium spot for Chris Dittmann Racing for much of the race, but sadly had to let that go as sixth place beckoned for the returnee.
Fortec’s Manuel Maldonado claimed seventh, less than two tenths behind Simmons. Lundqvist meanwhile climbed from 14th on the grid to take eighth, and will have to dig deep for races two and three.
On his race one win, Kjaergaard had this to say; “We took a lot of points out of Linus and things look better for me now. I think if we keep doing that and keep trying to get wins and then see what he does, and if we reel any more points in, you never know what could happen!”
BRDC British F3 Championship, Donnington Park race one result:
1. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, 12 laps
2. Jamie Caroline, Carlin, +0.752s
3. Krishnaraaj Mahadik, Double R Racing, +11.471s
4. Billy Monger, Carlin, +13.742s
5. Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, +15.354s
6. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +17.156s
7. Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, +17.343s
8. Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, +17.560s
9. Jusuf Owega, Hillspeed, +19.570s
10. Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, +20.354s
11. Max Defourny, Douglas Motorsport, +21.288s
12. Tom Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, +24.852s
13. Hampus Ericsson, Fortec Motorsports, +25.105s
14. Arvin Esmaeili, Douglas Motorsport, +28.764s
15. Pavan Ravishankar, Double R Racing, +33.316s
16. Josh Mason, Lanan Racing, +44.722s
17. Ben Hurst, Hillspeed, +50.311s
18. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +52.449s
19. Cian Carey, Chris Dittmann Racing, +53.772s
20. Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, +1m15.407s
With Sunday came more rain and difficult conditions at Donnington. Saturday had already seen the championship take a unexpected turn with a good qualifying and race one win for Kjaergaard, and a nightmare for championship leader Lundqvist. Race two, not to be outdone, was about to unload a big amount of crazy…
It was Carlin’s Sun Yue Yang who claimed his maiden BRDC British F3 win at Donnington Park, converting his pole position and keeping a cool head in a chaotic race.
Brit and local lad Gamble climbed from sixth on the grid to take second, with Pavan Ravishankar completing the podium line up.
Keeping in with the theme, there was drama right from the start… the was race red-flagged due to damage to the circuit, ruining excellent starts for Gamble (who had climbed into the lead) and for championship leader Lundqvist, who had climbed from 11th on the grid to third, and looking to wrap up the championship.
With the race restarted with the original grid, it was Yang who led them away off the line, but Redgate corner decided it was going to throw a curve ball into the championship. A spinning Arvin Esmaeili came back onto the track and collided with Maini and Lundqvist, while Jusuf Owega was also caught up in the drama, Kjaergaard having to take avoiding action in the process
Esmaeili, Maini, Lundqvist and Owega were all out on the spot, with this being Lundqvist’s first retirement of the season. Another blow in the Swede’s nightmare weekend… It’s worth noting it is at moments like this when true champions have to dig deep and Lundvist, despite excellent performances all season and has rarely been challenged, now faces his biggest challenge in turning this weekend around. Having spoken to the Double R driver recently there is no doubt the resolve is there.
The safety car was deployed for several laps while the damage was cleared. Upon the restart, Yang got a decent lead on the field and then led the race for the remainder.
Newcomer Hampus Ericsson claimed fourth with an excellent performance finishing just 0.392 seconds away from the podium, and Max Defourny claimed his best British F3 result with fifth.
Kjaergaard recovered from his opening lap drama to take 12th place behind newcomer Cian Carey. Kjaergaard’s points meaning he has further closed the gap to championship leader Lundqvist down to 79 points. Could this weekend get any crazier!? Monger finished in 15th place and last, after pitting to change a front wing… However was presented with a silver lining by setting fastest lap and claiming his second pole of the weekend for race three.
BRDC British F3 Championship, Park race two result:
1. Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, 8 laps
2. Tom Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, +1.734s
3. Pavan Ravishankar, Double R Racing, +3.743s
4. Hampus Ericsson, Fortec Motorsports, +4.135s
5. Max Defourny, Douglas Motorsport, +4.761s
6. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +5.308s
7. Krishnaraaj Mahadik, Double R Racing, +5.477s
8. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +7.615s
9. Josh Mason, Lanan Racing, +8.056s
10. Jamie Caroline, Carlin, +8.232s
11. Cian Carey, Chris Dittmann Racing, +12.018s
12. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, +13.653s
13. Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, +16.171s
14. Ben Hurst, Hillspeed, +16.920s
15. Billy Monger, Carlin, +22.434s
DNF. Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, 0 laps
DNF. Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, 0 laps
DNF. Jusuf Owega, Hillspeed, 0 laps
DNF. Arvin Esmaeili, Douglas Motorsport, 0 laps
DNF. Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, did not take restart
On his first British F3 win Yang was clearly over the moon. “It’s a good feeling. We were quite lucky as well but I’m glad we could make it. I saw I had a good lead but I wasn’t thinking about anything at the time, I was just chasing lap times as there was nothing to defend and nothing to fight so I was just looking to post good lap times for the third race. Of course it’s great to win the race, it’s my first win in single seaters so I was very excited, and now we can aim for some more.”
Race two wasn’t finished there! Gamble was later excluded from the result due to a technical infringement: F3 technical inspectors noted the requisite bolts and fixings on the car’s undertray were not all applied as per series regulations. Therefore Gamble loses his second place in the race result and his fastest lap from the race is also disqualified, meaning he will start in 15th place on the grid for race three as opposed to second place.
Defourny was also given a 10 second time penalty for driving in a manner not compatible with general safety: He collided with Esmaeili on the run down to the first corner on the restarted race, which forced multiple cars into retirement.
Still with me?… Right, draw breath, almost there: just race three to go!
As the sun set on what had been an incredible day for the season, race three got under way and Kjaergaard claimed his second win of the weekend at Donnington Park this afternoon, finishing two seconds clear of Mahadik while Monger claimed third place, having started from pole.
Monger made a decent start, but teammate Kjaergaard made a better one and was able to draw alongside on the run to Redgate, putting the race two incident behind him, Kjaergaard took the inside line but Monger was able to hold the lead.
Monger led across the line ending lap one, with a margin of 0.389 seconds over the Dane. At the Fogarty chicane on lap two, Monger made a mistake and dropped to fourth, promoting Kjaergaard into the lead and the Dane never looked back.
On the same lap, Chris Dittmann Racing’s Carey went off at the chicane and was left beached in the gravel. Keeping up with the rest of the weekend there was more drama at the chicane, as Caroline sustained suspension damage and went off, ultimately retiring to the pits.
A safety car was brought out while Carey’s car was recovered, with the race resuming on lap eight. Kjaergaard immediately built a gap and took it all the way to the flag.
The squabbling duo allowed Kjaergaard to pull out further, eventually claiming the flag by over two seconds to take his second win of the weekend and his fifth of the year to reignite his championship charge.
Mahadik was able to pull out a gap in the closing stages to take second, over a second clear of Monger, who claimed his third podium of the season and capped off an emotional return to Donnington.
Lundqvist though will be glad to see the back of the weekend, with his 111 point lead slashed to just 50 after Kjaergaard’s double victory.
Commenting on his best race weekend of the season, Kjaergaard said; “It’s been my best weekend of the season by a long way, and the first one of the year where I have taken two wins which I’m really pleased with… and obviously with the absence of good results for the other front-runners in the championship, it’s made my good results even more important. I’ve consolidated second place in the championship, but have also gained on Lundqvist, so it’s been a really good weekend.
The low sun was causing a lot of problems, it was very difficult coming into the chicane to see the braking markers and the turn-in points, and Billy just got caught out on one of the bumps at the chicane. I’m not sure if he carried too much in, I’m not exactly sure what happened but he had a slide coming out of the chicane and I managed to get past on the way down to the hairpin.
If you’d asked me before the season if I could have been the champion I’d probably have said no, but as it looks now, anything could happen. It doesn’t take much when you get 35 points twice in a weekend and the gap closes quickly.”
The BRDC British F3 Championship will be decided at Silverstone in three weeks’ time, with Lundqvist and Kjaergaard the only two drivers still remaining with a chance of taking the crown. As always Overtake will be there to bring you all the action…