Johnathan Hoggard claimed his first BRDC British Formula 3 Championship pole position at the Donington Park Grand Prix circuit by beating Kaylen Frederick by 62-thousandths of a second in a fiercely-contested qualifying session that will see the Fortec Motorsports driver in prime position to close up on championship leader Clement Novalak in the battle for the British F3 title. Hoggard also secured the second-fastest laptime, thus meaning that he will have pole position for both the first and third BRDC British F3 races of the weekend around the East Midlands circuit.
The first five minutes of the session was a quiet affair with the drivers just dialling themselves into the Donington Park Grand Prix circuit after testing yesterday, which saw Ayrton Simmons set the early pace on a 1.29.154. But after going four seconds faster yesterday, there was plenty of time left in the car for the Chris Dittmann Racing star.
But it was Manuel Maldonado who set the first representative lap time of a 1.26.745, shortly followed by championship leader Novalak, who went four tenths quicker, which saw a whole flurry of cars start to go quicker a quarter of the way through the 20-minute qualifying session. And with 12 minutes to go, championship protagonist Hoggard set his first proper marker with a 1 min 25.494 saw him go half a second clear of Kaylen Frederick, with Novalak and Simmons soon displacing the American racer. But they were still 0.4 s down on the Fortec Motorsports driver.
But it did not take long for the rest of the field to find Hoggard’s supreme pace, as Novalak managed to get within 22-thousandths of a second of Hoggard’s time with just over eight minutes to go in the 20 minute session.
So moments later, Hoggard was displaced at the top of the timesheets first by Ulysse De Pauw, then Simmons and finally by Kiern Jewiss, who set a 1.25.412 s to anchor provisional pole position with less than seven minutes to go. But no sooner had Jewiss topped the timesheets that Hoggard had regrouped and set another blistering time of a 1.25.007.
So then the battle for second began in earnest with Simmons retaking that position from Jewiss, before Frederick leapt up to second from a lowly fourteenth to get within three-tenths of his Fortec Motorsports rival before Simmons got to within 0.166 s of Hoggard’s time before Frederick set a lap time that was just 62-thousandths of a second behind Hoggard’s mighty early qualifying effort.
Behind the top three, championship leader Novalak was just a few hundredths behind Simmons in fourth, with De Pauw in fifth ahead of the Thai racer Sasakorn Chaimongkol who put in an impressive laptime at the end of the session to wind up sixth with Maldonado ultimately fading to seventh and Jewiss finished the session only in eighth place.
The first race of the weekend at Donington Park will by at 14.35 local time where Johnathan Hoggard will hope to claim another BRDC British F3 win in his bid to close the gap and overhaul championship leader Clement Novalak.