A packed grid of 25 drivers participated in the opening round of the inaugural British F3 iRacing Championship at Oulton Park this evening (Sunday 17 May), with Chris Dittmann Racing’s Nico Varrone stealing an early march on his rivals with a pair of stunning performances.
The event united a number of current and former BRDC British F3 contenders, as well as several former BRDC F4 drivers too, comprising practice, qualifying and two races, with the second contest being a full reverse grid.
Varrone started race one from pole after setting a blistering pace in the qualifying session, and pulled away consistently in the early stages from Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award winner Johnathan Hoggard. The Argentine was untroubled, even with a string of lapped traffic to pass at the end of the race, and claimed the opening victory of the championship by 1.23 seconds from Hoggard.
Meanwhile, Kieran Vernon, a former BRDC F4 contender, completed the podium in the opening race, five further seconds back from Hoggard. Vernon now acts as the driver coach for the Chris Dittmann Racing team.
Piers Prior was fourth for Lanan Racing, ahead of 2015 BRDC F4 Champion Will Palmer, with Hillspeed’s Oliver Clarke completing the top six.
In true British F3 style, a dramatic second race provided plenty of highlights, with Double R Racing’s Louis Foster surviving a scare to claim his first win of the championship. The complete reverse grid contest meant that Foster started on pole, and he led the first lap, keeping clear of plenty of carnage behind him. Varrone surged up the order from 25th (and last) to the top 10 within a couple of laps, with Hoggard making similar progress.
More carnage at the end of lap two enabled Varrone to move info fifth place, though it affected Hoggard, who dropped down the order and then had to pit to make repairs.
A spin for Jamie Caroline promoted Varrone to fourth on lap five, and another spill for Oliver Clarke moved Varrone onto the podium. But he was demoted to fourth when baulked by traffic and 2017 British F3 champion Enaam Ahmed sliced through. At the same time, leader Foster survived a spin to just hold the lead from JHR Development’s Carter Williams.
Williams though was soon forced to defend, with Ahmed moving past into third with a couple of minutes remaining, putting Varrone within striking range, and attempting a move on the final lap.
Despite his spin, Foster claimed victory by over three seconds from Ahmed, with Williams only just holding Varrone off at the line. Caroline and Prior completed the top six.
British F3 iRacing Championship Round 1 Race 1
British F3 iRacing Championship Round 1 Race 2
The British F3 iRacing Championship continues next Sunday evening (24 May) with more action from Belgium’s Spa Francorchamps. The live broadcast starts at 6pm as practice comes to an end, followed by qualifying at approximately 6.10pm and the first race at 6.30pm. Race 2 starts 10 minutes after all drivers have pitted at the end of Race 1. Live timing can be found here.
📷 Jakob Ebrey
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