Dominant weekend puts Ahmed on the brink of title success
Enaam Ahmed carried his supreme Spa form on to the full Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, with two wins and a third-place finish all but guaranteeing him the 2017 title, whilst title rivals Toby Sowery and Ben Hingeley suffered poor fortune, promoting James Pull to second in the championship standings.
As the lights went out to start race one, Ahmed led comfortably into Paddock Hill. His fellow front-row starter Pull was slower away, though, which allowed third placed man, Fortec Motorsports’ Hingeley, to vault him into the first corner. The rest of the field filtered through the opening corners without incident whilst Pull was busy harrying Hingeley in an attempt to regain his second place. That let championship leader Ahmed open up a lead of 1.458s after the opening lap, an advantage that would prove crucial later in the race.
On lap two, Pull took his opportunity as he got a brilliant run on his rival Hingeley down Hawthorn Hill and hung his Tatuus-Cosworth machine around the outside of the Fortec man through Hawthorns. He then edged ahead and completed the stunning move to retake the position through the right-hander Westfield. Further back, Douglas Motorsport’s Callan O’Keeffe dropped two positions to sixth as Toby Sowery and Nicolai Kjaergaard moved up to fourth and fifth respectively. That released Sowery who was soon onto the back of Hingeley and through to third as he made a clean move into Paddock Hill.
The order began to settle down and as the race approached its halfway point it looked like Ahmed would cruise to a comfortable ninth win of the season. Approaching rain clouds looked menacing though and spits and spots of water soon morphed into heavy rain, making conditions treacherous.
The Fortec Motorsports’ duo of Hingeley and Kjaergaard misjudged the grip levels into Paddock Hill and both skated off into the gravel, with barrier contact leading to Hingeley’s retirement as Kjaergaard was fortunate to escape. The next car through was Cameron Das and he also skated straight on and into the barrier, ending his race on the spot.
Race leader Ahmed was cautious as he continued around the lap and that enabled Pull to close right up on the back of his team-mate as the pair exited Clark Curve. Owing to the cars off at Paddock Hill though the Safety Car was deployed, neutralising the field with Ahmed holding on to the lead. As the rain began to fall even harder, the only decision available was to red flag the race and declare the result after 8 laps.
That ensured that Ahmed extended his championship advantage to 93 points over Sowery with his ninth win of the year, as Pull claimed his 10th podium finish of the season in second. Sowery took third with Douglas Motorsport's Callan O'Keeffe and Jordan Cane keeping their noses clean to finish fourth and fifth.
Sixth went to Chris Dittmann Racing’s Jeremy Wahome whilst the front-row for the partially-reversed grid race two will be made up of seventh and eight-placed finishers Kjaergaard and Krishnaraaj Mahadik.
Mahadik claimed his maiden BRDC British Formula 3 victory in race two of the weekend, after he finished second on track but was promoted to the win after on the road victor Sowery failed eligibility in post-race scrutineering. The Carlin duo of Pull and Ahmed finished second and third respectively.
After finishing eighth in race one of the weekend, Mahadik, who returned to BRDC British F3 this weekend, started on pole and he duly led into Paddock Hill Bend as the lights went out. Chris Dittmann Racing’s Wahome made a quick start from the second row and cut back down the inside of second placed starter Dane Kjaergaard into Druids. Contact was made between the pair though and that caused a concertina effect, with Douglas Motorsport’s Cane being unfortunate to get caught up in the accident.
That afforded the opportunity for those starting further back to move up the order and Sowery took full advantage by gaining three places to run third on the opening lap. The Carlin duo of Pull and Ahmed inhabited fourth and fifth whilst Hingeley made a storming start in his Fortec Motorsports machine, having made up eight places to run sixth. Other fast starters including Omar Ismail, moving up five places to seventh and Das and Guilherme Samaia both gaining six places to run ninth and 10th respectively.
A train began to form behind Kenyan Wahome, enabling Mahadik to open up a small advantage at the front, but Sowery soon broke the status quo as he made a brave move on the Chris Dittmann Racing man at Sheene. That released the multiple British F3 race-winner, who soon began setting a number of fastest laps to close the gap to Mahadik ahead.
Das dropped down the order after being forced to pit with a puncture, whilst on track, his Carlin team-mate Pull attempted to pass Wahome around the outside at Paddock Hill. Pull ran wide however, flirting with the gravel, and Hingeley took advantage to move up yet another position to fourth.
Sowery meanwhile had closed the gap to the leader Mahadik and after sizing him up, made a successful switchback through Paddock Hill and slid up the inside of the Indian at Druids to seize the lead. As the cars behind came through the same corner, Hingeley made his move for the podium positions around the outside of Wahome, but the Brit and the Kenyan came to blows, with Hingeley ending up in the gravel and out of the race. Wahome continued on but dropped down the order to fifth, with Pull and Ahmed promoted to third and fourth respectively. After the race, Wahome was excluded from the results for driving in a manner incompatible with general safety owing to the incident.
Further round the lap, Chase Owen made contact with the rear of Samaia, sending the Brazilian off into the gravel at Stirlings and thus the Safety Car was called for. After a brief period recovering the two stranded Tatuus-Cosworth cars, the Safety Car peeled back into the pitlane and Sowery made a brilliant restart, gapping the field behind as he turned into Paddock Hill. Ismail meanwhile passed team-mate Wahome to move up to fifth whilst Pull pressured Mahadik for second.
In the closing stages, Sowery stretched his lead to over five seconds whilst Mahadik fended off Pull well and as the chequered flag came out after 14 laps, the order remained unchanged.
In post-race scrutineering, Sowery’s car failed the eligibility criteria and thus was excluded from the race results. The Clerk of the Course was satisfied that this was due to an error and not an attempt to gain an unfair advantage. That meant that Mahadik, on his return to the UK’s premier single-seater championship, took his maiden win in British F3, with Pull second and Ahmed third.
Ahmed lined up on pole position for the third and final race of the weekend, by virtue of setting the fastest lap from across the first two encounters of the weekend, and he was joined on the front-row by Carlin team-mate Das. As the lights went out, Das made a strong start but Ahmed was able to hold him off as the field turned into Paddock Hill. Sowery was slow away in fourth and he dropped to near the back of the field, with Pull jumping both Sowery and third placed starter O’Keeffe.
After lap two, Ahmed continued to lead from Das and Pull but further back, Douglas Motorsport’s Cane tried to pass Jamie Chadwick for 10th but as he did so, it enabled Sowery to put his nose down the inside through Dingle Dell and the Lanan Racing man took 11th. That soon became 10th as he pulled off an unbelievable move around the outside of Double R Racing driver Chadwick at Paddock Hill.
Chadwick dropped a further two positions on the next lap, with Cane and Samaia moving up to 11th and 12th, whilst Sowery produced a carbon copy of his move on Chadwick to sweep around the outside of Kenyan Wahome at Paddock Hill to claim ninth.
The order remained unchanged up front but Fortec Motorsports’ Manuel Maldonado was a man on the move as he took 13th off Chadwick at Sheene whilst Sowery caught and passed Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing’s Owen at Hawthorns. Sowery’s charged continued as he passed race two winner Mahadik at Druids for seventh, whilst Ismail got the better of Chadwick at Clark Curve for 14th.
The final two laps passed without incident and Ahmed came home to take his 10th win of the season and extend his championship lead to 106 points over Pull. Das took second with the aforementioned Pull third.
BRDC British F3 Championship - Standings after race 18
1. Enaam Ahmed, Carlin, 489pts
2. James Pull, Carlin, 383pts
3. Toby Sowery, Lanan Racing, 356pts
4. Cameron Das, Carlin, 339pts
5. Ben Hingeley, Fortec Motorsports, 319pts
6. Callan O'Keeffe, Douglas Motorsport, 310pts
7. Chase Owen, Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing, 209pts
8. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Fortec Motorsports, 195pts
9. Jamie Chadwick, Double R Racing, 191pts
10. Omar Ismail, Chris Dittmann Racing, 186pts