Johnathan Hoggard enjoyed a successful weekend in the fourth round of the 2019 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship at Donington Park Grand Prix circuit which saw the Fortec Motorsports driver score two race wins around the East Midlands venue to cut the gap between himself and championship leader Clement Novalak to just 28 points at the half-way point of the season. But despite Hoggard’s ominous Donington form, the ever-consistent Novalak was able to leave the iconic British racing circuit with his championship lead mostly in tact due to his supreme consistency with three fourth place finishes, while his rival suffered contact and a retirement in the reverse-grid race which cost him vital points as he bids to catch the Carlin racer.
After a few days of testing around Donington Park, the stage was set for another enthralling round of the 2019 BRDC British F3 Championship, and after a tense qualifying shootout it was Hoggard who seized the advantage over Kaylen Frederick with points leader Novalak only managing fourth on the grid.
The opening race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon saw Hoggard control the pace out-front and after a race interrupted by an early Safety Car period, the Fortec Motorsports driver held off the pace-setter at the last round at Silverstone, Ayrton Simmons to win his third race of the year.
Frederick was dropped by the top two and finished a distant third on the road, but the American was later given a 10-second penalty for a false start which set the tone for the rest of his weekend with two retirements in races two and three. This meant that the feisty Kiern Jewiss was awarded his second podium finish of the season after a fast start from the Douglas Motorsport driver saw him move from eighth on the grid to fourth on the road by the end of the opening lap, with Novalak finishing just behind and was therefore classified fourth for the opening race of the weekend.
The reverse-grid race was a BRDC British F3 classic as after the first three rounds saw the poleman from the middle race of the weekend easily convert it to a race win, this race was different as Lanan Racing’s Josh Mason claimed his first race win of the season by virtue of beating pole-sitter Pavan Ravishankar after the Singaporean racer bottled under pressure after he locked up after the early Safety car period with Manuel Maldonado putting in another strong to finish third while points leader Novalak finished a fighting fourth.
So after losing ground to Hoggard after race one, the reverse-grid race was going to be fruitful for the Carlin racer anyhow. But that was only furthered by Hoggard and Simmons making contact on lap seven which saw the Chris Dittmann Racing driver edge his Fortec Motorsports rival off circuit at the Old Hairpin which meant that he ended up in the gravel on the outside and out of the race. Simmons meanwhile picked up damage of his own and finished last and was later disqualified for his first lap contact with Frederick as well as his controversial move when battling Hoggard.
In the aftermath of being punted off track in race two, Hoggard needed the performance he delivered in race three as the Fortec Motorsports driver dominated the final race of the weekend to win his fourth race of the season by four seconds. Behind, Belgian racer Ulysse De Pauw had his hands full keeping at bay Thailand’s Sasakorn Chaimongkol and Novalak all race long. But despite their close proximity, De Pauw claimed his maiden BRDC British F3 podium while Chaimongkol secured his first rostrum of the year to back up his two podiums at Snetterton and Spa Francorchamps last year.
Things continued to get worse for Simmons as after his reckless driving behaviour in race two, the Chris Dittmann Racing driver was served up some karma as he was hit by mechanical gremlins in race three which forced him to the pitlane while running in eighth place after starting the final race of the weekend from tenth on the grid. It capped off what was a truly dreadful Sunday for the British teenager.
After an engaging round of the BRDC British F3 Championship at Donington Park, Clement Novalak and Johnathan Hoggard are clearly in a league of their own and are separated by just 28 points after four rounds and 12 races. Now as the national F3 series heads to its only overseas round at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium on 20-21 July, the question remains whether Hoggard can keep the pressure on Novalak and if the Carlin racer can maintain his ever-consistent form which he has shown so far this season?