Ahmed tightens title grip as Hingeley claims his third win of the season
Fortec Motorsport’s Ben Hingeley took the spoils in the opening encounter at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit, before Enaam Ahmed put a stranglehold on his title rivals by dominating the second day’s proceedings, matching Toby Sowery’s Silverstone haul in the process.
Championship leader Ahmed secured his first qualifying pole position after a gripping tussle with Sowery and Hingeley. He made a good start to lead down to La Source on lap one, while Hingeley challenged Sowery for second place. Coming to the end of the Kemmel straight into Les Combes, Sowery and Hingeley were able to make use of the tow to draft past Ahmed, with the championship leader ending the lap in third place. Further back, James Pull was already up to 10th place after his qualifying issues.
Sowery had built a small lead early on but Hingeley began to peg him back, and the pair were separated by just 0.4 seconds starting lap three. On the approach to the Bus Stop Chicane, Hingeley pulled out of Sowery's slipstream and the pair were side by side through the initial right hand turn with Hingeley on the outside. The pair appeared to make slight contact and Hingeley took the inside of the left hand turn, claiming the lead.
The Fortec driver then set about building a lead of two seconds, while Sowery was further demoted on lap four, first by title rival Ahmed and then by Brazilian Guilherme Samaia, enjoying his best race of the season.
Ahmed set about trimming Hingeley's lead and had it down to 1.1 seconds by the end of the race, but ultimately ran out of laps in his pursuit. Samaia finished a further two seconds back securing his first podium finish on the back of a very strong weekend so far. Sowery had tried to at least regain a podium spot, and got the gap down to half a second at one point before settling for fourth.
Jordan Cane and Jamie Chadwick provided plenty of entertainment, the pair frequently changing places before Cane emerged ahead in fifth with Chadwick sixth. Cameron Das claimed seventh from 10th on the grid while James Pull, Callan O’Keeffe and Chase Owen completed the top-10 runners. The top three drivers were presented with their trophies on the podium by BRDC member and ex-F1 racer Martin Donnelly.
Pull started from pole position and made a great start to build a lead of over two seconds at the end of the first lap, with Das and Sowery the early top three, while Ahmed was already making ground, climbing from seventh on the grid to fifth at the end of the first tour.
Ahmed then climbed to fourth on lap two, passing Chadwick, and then put a move on title rival Sowery on lap three. A lap later and Ahmed moved past team mate Das and began eating into Pull's lead, which still stood at over two seconds.
By lap six, the margin between the pair was little over a second, and at the end of lap seven there was just 0.4s between them. Benefiting from a great tow through Eau Rouge on lap eight, Ahmed made his move with a lap and a half to go and then streaked away to claim victory by 1.4 seconds. Pull was forced to settle for second place, but his podium was a welcome return after his race one fightback.
Sowery had a combative race, running third initially before being passed by Ahmed on lap three, but he reclaimed the podium position with a move on Das on lap six.
There was plenty of wheel-to-wheel action in the top-10, with Das holding a podium position for much of the race before finishing fourth, with O'Keeffe climbing from ninth on the grid to take fifth. Cane's sixth place continued his strong start to life in British F3, while Owen was another mover from 10th at the start to claim seventh. The biggest movers though were back row starters Tristan Charpentier and Linus Lundqvist, who finished eighth and ninth from 17th and 16th on the grid respectively. Chadwick's 10th place came after another drive where she was in the thick of the action.
Hingeley had a race to forget, spending three laps in the pits early on following contact on the opening lap from fellow race one podium finisher Samaia. The Brazilian driver retired in the pits, whilst Hingeley recovered to finish an unclassified 16th.
With the grid for the final race decided by fastest laps from the previous two races, it was Ahmed on pole with Sowery alongside him on the front row. Ahmed made a good start to lead into the first corner, and held a 0.3 second lead at the end of lap one. But Sowery refused to let him go and made use of a good slipstream going down the Kemmel straight on lap two to blast into the lead.
However, Sowery wasn't able to pull out a comfortable enough gap and Ahmed challenged the Lanan driver several times down the Kemmel straight, with Sowery resisting until lap seven when the Carlin driver was able to squeeze by before Les Combes. Sowery tried to reclaim the lead around the outside but Ahmed had it covered to claim his second win of the weekend by 0.7 seconds.
Hingeley took third place thanks to a strong opening lap, where he overtook three cars to climb onto the podium to make up for the disappointment of race two. Pull improved one place on his grid position to take fourth with a decent overtake on O'Keeffe, who ran as high as third early on, but was picked off by Das, Owen, Lundqvist and Charpentier before the end of the race and finished ninth. Owen improved three places on his grid position, while series newcomer Lundqvist again showed good race craft to climb to seventh from 10th on the grid.
BRDC British F3 Championship standings after 15 of 24 rounds
1. Enaam Ahmed, Carlin, 399pts
2. Toby Sowery, Lanan Racing, 317pts
3. James Pull, Carlin, 308pts
4. Ben Hingeley, Fortec Motorsports, 300pts
5. Cameron Das, Carlin, 299pts
6. Callan O'Keeffe, Douglas Motorsport, 254pts
7. Chase Owen, Hillspeed, 170pts
8. Jamie Chadwick, Double R Racing, 159pts
9. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Fortec Motorsports, 153pts
10. Omar Ismail, Chris Dittmann Racing, 152pts