Lanan Racing’s Josh Mason claimed his first win of the 2019 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship in the reverse-grid race at the Donington Park Grand Prix circuit after rising from third place on the grid in an action-packed race around the East Midlands venue. Pole-sitter Pavan Ravishankar managed to cling onto second position after coming under increasing pressure from the Venesuelan racer Manuel Maldonado in the closing stages of an eventful race.
The race got underway with Pavan Ravishankar leading them into Redgate as Mason moved up to second ahead of Kris Wright, and began challenging the Singaporean racer for the lead instantly. But before the Lanan Racing driver had his chance to overtake Ravishankar, the Safety Car was deployed for the first corner collision between Ayrton Simmons and Kaylen Frederick which resulted in the American being eliminated at the very first turn.
The incident required in an extended Safety Car period with Ravishankar getting the race back underway on lap four, but the Singaporean racer locked up immediately into Redgate corner and gifted the lead to Mason who needed no second invitation to grab the race lead. The error not only allowed Mason to seize the lead, but the British racer was soon able to build a lead of almost a second from the chasing pack, which soon meant that the Double R Racing driver began to feel the heat from the drivers behind which was headed by Chris Dittmann Racing’s Nazim Azman.
But Ravishankar soon found his feet again as by the end of lap five, he had closed the gap to just 0.344 s to Mason with Azman, Benjamin Pedersen and Maldonado tucked up close behind the Singaporean racer. But Mason was able to keep his cool and began to stretch his lead out to over half a second by lap seven.
At the same time, Ravishankar was given some blessed relief from behind as Azman ran wide out of the Fogarty Esses and lost third to Maldonado, before making another error at the Old Hairpin which cost him several positions and eventually saw him fall down to fifteenth place as a result. The main benefactor was championship leader Clement Novalak who had now managed to work his way up to fourth place in what turned out to be a fruitful race for the Carlin racer.
Things got even better for him as next time around his closest championship rivals Johnathan Hoggard and Simmons were embroiled in a mighty scrap over eleventh place through the Craner Curves which was always going to end up badly. And with Hoggard on the outside, Simmons pushes his Fortec Motorsports rival off track at the Old Hairpin which meant Hoggard ended up stranded in the gravel and out of the race.
Up front, things were closer than ever as Mason was holding a slender margin over Ravishankar, while the Singaporean racer was being reeled in by Maldonado in the last three laps of the race and had to fight hard to resist a last lap charge. He ultimately finished just 0.135 s ahead of the Venezuelan racer with the podium trio separated by less than 0.7 s.
Novalak meanwhile finished a fighting fourth and after seeing his points lead shrink to just 20 points after race one, he had re-established his series dominance in the points table. Behind him Pedersen finished fifth ahead of Hampus Ericsson in sixth place.
Meanwhile the battle between Simmons and Hoggard did neither of them much good, and while Hoggard has the chance to score another race three from pole position, things will be harder for Simmons starting from eighth on the grid to recover his weekend following their race two disaster.