First-time winners Das and Hingeley close in on title leader Ahmed
Enaam Ahmed looked set to continue his Oulton Park success with victory in race one at Rockingham, but Sunday turned out to be a tough day at the office for the championship leader.
It was a day of firsts on the second day of the event as Carlin’s Cameron Das and Fortec Motorsports’ Ben Hingeley claimed their maiden victories in BRDC British Formula 3, coming home ahead of their rivals in race two and three of the weekend respectively.
Ahmed made it four wins from the first four races of the 2017 BRDC British Formula 3 season, as a barnstorming opening lap saw him charge from the second row to the lead and onwards to victory.
Just as at Oulton Park, reigning US Formula 4 champion Das lined up on pole position, but as the lights went out, it was his fellow front-row starter Omar Ismail who made the better getaway, however at the hairpin he was pushed out of the line and dropped to fifth, whilst fourth place starter Ahmed had rocketed up to second, and switched back down the inside of Das on the run to turn three to take the lead. Behind, Callum O’Keeffe, jumped from fifth to third, just ahead of Fortec Motorsports’ Ben Hingeley and Carlin’s James Pull.
Ahmed was able to open up a healthy lead whilst Das fended off heavy pressure from O’Keeffe. Further back, Dane Nicolai Kjaegaard pulled off a great move around the outside of Jamie Chadwick at the Deene hairpin to take seventh, putting her into the clutches of her Double R Racing team-mate Guilherme Samaia. A fierce battle resulted, with Chadwick taking the all-important eighth place and pole position for race two.
At the front, Das regrouped and with a succession of fastest laps, cut the lead down to just over half-a-second but Ahmed was able to respond and edged out the gap once more, taking the chequered flag by more than a second. Runner-up Das was followed home by O’Keeffe in third with Hingeley fourth and Pull fifth.
Das stormed to victory in the second race of the weekend at Rockingham, charging through the field from seventh on the grid to claim his maiden BRDC British Formula 3 win.
As the lights went out, Ismail made another great getaway from third to take the lead through the first corner whilst Chadwick was forced into defending second from Pull. At the Deene hairpin, Chadwick clipped Pull which resulted in him being turned around and collecting Kjaergaard. Pull retired with damage from the accident whilst Kjaergaard managed to limp back to the pits, with Chadwick continuing in second. Race one winner Ahmed was unlucky to get caught on the outside of the incident and he dropped to the back of the field after being forced into taking evasive action. After the race, Chadwick was handed a five-place grid penalty for her part in the incident.
The main beneficiary was Das, who made up four positions from his grid spot to run in third after the first two corners. Hingeley slotted into fourth, with O’Keeffe fifth and Samaia sixth. Das wasted little time in continuing his forward progress as he pulled off a superb move around the outside of Chadwick to take second at the Deene hairpin. The American soon closed on the leader Ismail and this time jinked to the inside at the hairpin to slide past the Chris Dittmann Racing man to take the lead. Further back, Lanan Racing’s Toby Sowery disposed of Samaia to take sixth position.
Das extended his lead to over two seconds as the race passed the halfway mark and the action at the head of the pack settled into a rhythm with Das comfortable in a lead that he would take to the flag, with Ismail ran second and Chadwick third.
Behind the leaders there was plenty of action as Harry Hayek made a move on his Double R team-mate Samaia to claim seventh whilst just ahead, Callan O’Keeffe and Toby Sowery became involved in a brilliant battle for fifth. Sowery closed on the O’Keefe and with three laps to go, moved to the outside of the Douglas Motorsport man at the Deene hairpin. O’Keeffe fended off the initial move but Sowery wouldn’t give up, and the pair managed to run side-by-side for almost half of the lap. O’Keeffe eventually managed to get his nose back in front and Sowery was forced to slot in behind his rival for sixth place ahead of Hayek and Samaia. However, the Brazilian received a five-second time penalty for track limits infringements and that promoted Ahmed up the order, who recovered from his first lap off to score a decent haul of points.
Hingeley claimed his first ever BRDC British Formula 3 victory in the final race at Rockingham, having pulled off a brave move for the race lead.
Das started from pole position with Hingeley alongside him on the front-row. As the lights went out, the American made a good start and led through the first two turns. As the field approached the Deene hairpin, Ahmed tried to go around the outside of Pull for third but he ran out of road and had to take to the grass, rejoining at the back of the field.
Sowery made a strong start and he made up three places on the opening lap to run in fifth, just behind lan O’Keeffe. On lap two, Hayek made contact with Kjaergaard, with the Fortec Motorsports’ man ending up off the circuit at Chapman curve. Both drivers suffered suspension damage and retired from the race. With Kjaergaard’s car in a dangerous position, the safety car was called for with Das leading from Hingeley and Pull.
When the race got back underway, Das wasn’t able to break away from his rivals and he lost two positions in one corner as Hingeley dived down the inside at Deene hairpin to take the lead, whilst Pull went around the outside of his team-mate to claim second.
Toby Sowery fought his way past O’Keeffe to take fourth but after just one lap of green flag racing, the safety car was called back into action after Ismail was turned around at Tarzan after contact with Manuel Maldonado. The Venezuelan was excluded from the results after the race for driving in a matter not compatible with safety.
At the restart, Hingeley defended his lead and was then able to eke out a small advantage, winning from Pull and Das. The top five was rounded out by Sowery and O’Keeffe.
2017 BRDC British Formula 3 - Standings after race six of 24
1. Enaam Ahmed, Carlin, 156pts
2. Cameron Das, Carlin, 141pts
3. Ben Hingeley, Fortec Motorsports, 134pts
4. James Pull, Carlin, 119pts
5. Callan O'Keeffe, Douglas Motorsport, 115pts
6. Toby Sowery, Lanan Racing, 86pts
7. Omar Ismail, Chris Dittmann Racing, 79pts
8. Chase Owen, Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing, 63pts
9. Jamie Chadwick, Double R Racing, 54pts
10. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Fortec Motorsports, 53pts