Douglas Motorsport’s Ulysse De Pauw and this week’s guest driver, BTCC ace Tom Ingram, were winners in an exciting pair of races at Spa-Francorchamps tonight (24 May) in the second round of the British F3 iRacing Championship.
De Pauw dominated the opening event, heading a Douglas Motorsport one-two with teammate Scott Harrison on his home circuit, while Ingram took advantage of plenty of carnage in the second race to gain 15 places and claim victory.
Scott topped the times in free practice but it was Hillspeed’s Oliver Clarke who claimed pole position for race one by just 0.030s from Chris Dittmann Racing’s championship leader Nico Varrone.
Clarke made a strong start in race one to keep the lead on the opening lap, while Varrone dropped down the order and wound up fourth, with the duelling Douglas Motorsport duo of De Pauw and Scott fighting over second.
Clarke’s lead at the front was trimmed entering the third lap, with Scott and De Pauw right under his wing. Exiting Raidillon, Scott used the slipstream to take the lead, with De Pauw following through to demote Clarke to third.
Scott’s lead lasted just a lap though, as home hero De Pauw slipstreamed past on the Kemmel Straight on lap four to head the field. A mistake from Scott further round the lap gave Clarke the momentum, with the Hillspeed driver making the move stick at the Bus Stop Chicane and moving up to second, while right behind Varrone made an error and allowed Johnathan Hoggard through into fourth.
Disaster struck for Clarke on the fifth lap as he suffered a half-spin and collided with Kieran Vernon, dropping both further down the field.
The drama allowed De Pauw to pull clear from Scott, taking the win by just over a second. Behind, Hoggard was holding off Varrone, who sat in the Fortec driver’s slipstream for the final third of the race, with Varrone seemingly waiting until the last possible moment to make a move on the 2019 championship runner-up. Varrone just managed to pip Hoggard across the line by three thousandths of a second at the end of the race. Piers Prior and Enaam Ahmed completed the top six, while BTCC ace Ingram - a guest driver at Spa - surged through the field to finish in the top 10.
The complete reverse grid for the second encounter put Louis Foster on pole, ahead of debutant Maximus Marzorati, with race one winner De Pauw starting from 25th.
Foster led the field at La Source, though an incident behind him demoted front-runners Marzorati and Chris Mealin. Further round Hoggard flipped at Les Combes, and was collected by De Pauw, who suffered damage, ending his chances of a competitive result after his earlier win.
Will Palmer claimed the lead around the first lap, and Clarke surged to second, with Double R’s Ayrton Simmons and Foster holding third and fourth - Foster slipping from the lead to fourth. Ingram meanwhile surged to sixth after starting way down the grid in 16th.
Palmer was under big pressure from Clarke, and the pair made contact at Les Combes, with both suffering damage and dropping down the order, promoting Chris Dittmann Racing’s driver coach Kieran Vernon into the lead from Foster, while Palmer clung to third ahead of Ingram, who forced his way past into the podium position before the Bus Stop Chicane.
Foster claimed the lead from Vernon on lap five, but the pair made contact, again at Les Combes, promoting Ingram to the lead with a four-second margin, while Varrone had surged from 23rd on the grid to third.
Ingram held the lead for the remainder of the event, winning by 1.6 seconds from Foster, while Varrone was just a tenth further behind, taking his second podium of the event. Independent driver Thomas Maxwell claimed fourth ahead of Carlin’s Nicolai Kjaergaard and Lanan’s Piers Prior.
British F3 iRacing Championship, Race 1 Round 2
British F3 iRacing Championship, Race 2 Round 2
Next Sunday (31 May) we head back to home soil as we hit the midway point in the five-round championship with a visit to Silverstone’s Grand Prix circuit. Catch all the action live from 6pm on the British F3 Facebook page and YouTube channel. Live timing can be found here.
📷 Jakob Ebrey
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