Fortec Motorsports driver Johnathan Hoggard drove a sublime defensive race to win race one of the 2019 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship weekend at Donington Park Grand Prix circuit to beat Ayrton Simmons by 0.6 s, while Kaylen Frederick was demoted from his front-row starting position to ultimately finish in third position as the American racer completed the podium for Carlin. The win has moved Hoggard to within 20 points of championship leader Clement Novalak who finished down in fifth place at the end of the first day at the East Midlands venue.
The race began with Hoggard holding the lead down into Redgate corner on the opening lap, with Frederick and Simmons going wheel-to-wheel in the first few corners with the Chris Dittmann Racing driver emerging out on top as they went through McLeans for the first time to move himself up to second place.
Further behind, Kiern Jewiss made up for his poor qualifying performance as the Douglas Motorsport driver made his way from eighth on the grid to fourth place at the end of the opening lap, which he capped off by a beautiful late-braking overtaking manoeuvre on championship leader Clement Novalak at the Melbourne hairpin.
At the same time, both Neil Verhagen and Hampus Ericsson jumped up the order, with Verhagen moving his way from ninth to seventh, while Ericsson from eleventh to ninth by virtue of passing Benjamin Pedersen, who was also overtaken by the fast-starting Singaporean Pavan Ravishankar. But the American was able to recapture tenth place a lap later as he went off-track which forced him to the back of the field.
But while Verhagen and Ericsson had positive opening laps, it was bad news for Sasakorn Chaimongkol who after qualifying a seasons-best sixth for race one, the Thai racer dropped down to thirteenth place at the end of the opening lap.
Out front, Hoggard was able to gain an early edge from Simmons with the Fortec Motorsports driver able to hold a lead over 1.2 s during the first four laps of the race. That was until the Safety Car was deployed after Carlin’s Lucas Peterssen span at the Melbourne hairpin and was beached in the gravel while running in last place.
But as the Safety Car peeled into the pits, Hoggard had a much tougher task on his hands as Simmons was sticking to the Fortec Motorsports driver like glue, with the Chris Dittmann Racing driver staying within 0.8 s of Hoggard throughout the rest of the race.
On lap eight, the battle of the Asian racers resumed with Chris Dittmann Racing driver Nazim Azman getting the better of Chaimongkol in their scrap for eleventh place.
But while Azman’s team-mate Simmons tried to pressure race leader Hoggard into a mistake, the Fortec Motorsport driver did not crack and ultimately meant that Hoggard secured a third career win in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship by 0.6 s with Frederick a further 1.7 s further behind in third. Jewiss meanwhile consolidated his excellent start to finish fourth and championship leader Novalak secured another top five finish despite losing out to his closest title rivals who finished first and second.
The reverse-grid race will begin in earnest tomorrow morning at 10.35 am where Peterssen will start from pole position after crashing out of the race this afternoon. That will be followed by the final race of the weekend at 16.00 tomorrow afternoon where Hoggard will have another shot of race victory around this circuit. And after victory today, he will now be thinking that the British F3 title is his for the taking after he has cut Novalak’s lead once again…