Linus Lundqvist took the flag by under a second from Nicolai Kjaergaard in the first BRDC British F3 Championship race of the year at Oulton Park. The pair was joined by Billy Monger on the podium in his return to single-seater racing.
Monger’s result was an outstanding achievement for the 18-year-old, who benefitted from a first lap accident involving the polesitter.
The dramatic start begun with Lundqvist leapfrogging the polesitter Clement Novalak into Old Hall corner. The Brit was not the only Carlin moving backwards as Kjaergaard dropped behind Krishnaraaj Mahadik.
Mahadik had the momentum through the hairpin and coming down towards Hislops had the run on Novalak for second. The Carlin defended his position but contact between the two launched Novalak, who came to rest on the inside of the hairpin. A safety car came out to deal with the stricken car as Mahadik ran over the grass and dropped to fifth. Novalak exited safely.
As the race restarted, Lundqvist led Kjaergaard with Billy Monger now promoted to third. Sadly for Monger, he struggled to keep up with the leaders with Tom Gamble taking the initiative to close in on a potential first podium. As for Mahadik, he found himself holding up a queue of four cars, clearly damaged from the accident earlier.
Back at the front, all eyes were on Kjaergaard as he set the fastest lap and closed in on the leader. Lundqvist held him at bay through the middle of the race, but found the Dane getting more aggressive in the final two laps. This destroyed his tyres though, with Lundqvist narrowly holding on to take the first win of the year from Kjaergaard and Monger.
“No words, just unbelievable, couldn’t have asked for a better debut to be honest. Couldn’t have asked for a better start,” begun Lundqvist.
“Oulton is always a very special circuit considering there’s no run off so if you do a mistake, it’s usually quite costly. Every time I come here the weather seems to be really tricky, as it was today aswell. Should be interesting for Monday, two more races and we can make the best of it.”
Monger’s podium was a testament to the determination of the young driver who walked to the podium on his prosthetic legs. Lundqvist congratulated him with all three drivers collecting their silverware.
“I feel a bit overwhelmed to be honest,” said Monger. “If you’d told me last year after Donington, I’d be on the podium at the first race of the British F3 Championship the year after I’d have probably told you, you were lying. But to have got here now is a massive achievement for not just me but also Carlin and the boys in blue.”
“The first few laps I was a rabbit in the headlights, but after the chicane incident, I knew I was in a podium position and I saw Tom [Gamble] behind me. A few laps into the race I settled down into a rhythm and just controlled the gap for the second half of the race.”
Fourth went the way of Gamble after he ran out of laps in his closing down of Monger. The result does leave him in a favourable championship position with Mahadik hanging on for fifth.
It had become clear that whatever pace the Indian had had in the opening lap did not last after the accident. The four cars behind finished with in five seconds as Sun Yue Yang led home the contingent in sixth. The top nine would be rounded out by Jordan Cane, #55 Jamie Chadwick after a lightning start and Kush Maini. While Sasakorn Chaimongkol took tenth despite almost stalling at the start.
Tristan Charpentier after a dire start to the race, finished last and thus will be on pole tomorrow.