Carlin's Clement Novalak converted a front row start into a maiden BRDC British F3 victory in the first race of the season at a sweltering Oulton Park this afternoon.
Novalak claimed the lead on the first lap from team mate Kaylen Frederick, and then had to contend with a lengthy safety car period, before claiming victory by 1.6 seconds over Chris Dittmann Racing's Ayrton Simmons. Johnathan Hoggard claimed a podium on his British F3 debut after qualifying fourth, while Douglas Motorsport's Ulysse De Pauw held off a spirited charge from Hillspeed's Sasakorn Chaimongkol, who claimed fifth from eighth on the grid.
Kiern Jewiss recovered from a slow start to take sixth on the road for Douglas Motorsport, but was handed a 10 second time penalty by the Clerk of the Course after the race, dropping him to ninth. Jewiss' former F4 rival Hampus Ericsson therefore claimed sixth for Double R, Nazim Azman rose from 12th on the grid to secure seventh for Chris Dittmann Racing, with Fortec's Manuel Maldonado eighth, Jewiss ninth after his penalty and Lanan Racing's Josh Mason completing the top-10.
At the start, pole man Kaylen Frederick and Novalak made decent starts, with the pair going wheel to wheel around the first corner with Novalak taking the advantage to take the lead. The British driver held a lead of over six tenths at the end of the first lap with Frederick fighting off the attentions of Simmons.
Midway around lap two, and the safety car was deployed after a multi car incident involving Manuel Maldonado, Lucas Petersson, Benjamin Pedersen and Pavan Ravishankar, ruling the latter three out of the race, while Maldonado recovered back to the pits to replace his front wing. Maldonado was pitched off the circuit by Jewiss, and then spun back across the track, eliminating Petersson, Pedersen and Ravishankar in a chain reaction, for which Jewiss received his penalty.
The safety car circulated for several laps while the cars were recovered, with the race only resuming as lap six began. Almost immediately there was further drama as Simmons found a way past Frederick, with the American driver dropping to fifth on the restart lap, promoting Hoggard to the podium and De Pauw to fourth.
Not long after, Frederick pitted with a puncture after being contacted by Neil Verhagen, who damaged his front wing. Verhagen opted to continue running rather than pitting for repairs while Frederick lost a lap in the pits.
All this drama helped promote Chaimongkol up to fifth while also benefiting Jewiss, who after his slow getaway had dropped as low as ninth, while the remaining runners were also promoted up the order as a result.
At the front, Novalak created a small gap of around a second to Simmons, with the margin hovering at around 1.2 seconds, before the Carlin driver extended a lead of 1.6 seconds on the final tour, crossing the line to make amends from last year where he qualified on pole on his British F3 debut, only to retire on the opening lap. Simmons' second place was his first British F3 podium having competed in selected races last year, while Hoggard backed up his strong pre-season pace with his first podium. De Pauw and Chaimongkol's results ensured five different teams were represented in the top-five finishers.
The top-three on the podium were presented with their trophies by BRDC Member Paul Smith, a two time Le Mans 24 Hours class winner, as well as a contender in Formula Atlantic, British F3 and European Formula 2.
The second race of the weekend will take place on Monday morning, with all finishers reversed on the grid and handing pole position to Frederick, his second of the event.
BRDC British F3 Championship, Oulton Park race one result:
1. Clement Novalak, Carlin, 11 laps
2. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +1.610s
3. Johnathan Hoggard, Fortec Motorsports, +4.606s
4. Ulysse De Pauw, Douglas Motorsport, +6.952s
5. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +7.679s
6. Hampus Ericsson, Double R Racing, +11.301s
7. Nazim Azman, Chris Dittmann Racing, +12.235s
8. Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, +17.658s
9. Kiern Jewiss, Douglas Motorsport, +19.157s
10. Josh Mason, Lanan Racing, +23.101s
11. Kris Wright, Fortec Motorsports, +24.133s
12. Neil Verhagen, Double R Racing, +1m14.838s
13. Kaylen Frederick, Carlin, +1 lap
DNF. Lucas Petersson, Carlin, 1 lap
DNF. Benjamin Pedersen, Douglas Motorsport, 1 lap
DNF. Pavan Ravishankar, Double R Racing, 1 lap
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