Simmons inherits Silverstone race three after Verhagen and Novalak receive time penalties

by Nathan Hine
Ayrton Simmons - Chris Dittmann Racing - Silverstone GP circuit

Ayrton Simmons secured his first BRDC British Formula 3 race victory in race three of the weekend at the Silverstone GP circuit after a controversial final race of the weekend saw the top two, Neil Verhagen and Clement Novalak, being awarded post-race five second time penalties for leaving the track and gaining an advantage on multiple occasions which had a dramatic consequence in the outcome of the race. They were officially classified fifth and sixth despite the fact that they led occupied the top two positions from start to finish. Behind Simmons, Johnathan Hoggard secured a second consecutive second-placed finish with Kaylen Frederick adding to his points tally in third.

After starting from pole position for the first time this year, Verhagen got a flyer from pole position and led on the run down into Corpse on the opening lap, with Novalak following him through in a comfortable second and Simmons in third place. But it was the American racer who started to build a lead from the off and was over a second clear of championship leader Novalak at the end of the opening lap, with the Double R Racing driver making full use of his brand new tyres for race three.

But once he made good his escape, Verhagen found it difficult to extend his advantage beyond a second, and was closely followed by Novalak in second, Simmons in third and Hoggard in fourth place, with the top four covered by under two seconds throughout the entire duration of the race.

And on lap four, the leaders were closer than ever, with the top two covered by just 0.6 s with the championship leader thinking about a move on the American down the Wellington straight and down into Brooklands corner, but thought discretion was the better part of valour at that point of the race. But it was on the next lap that the drama began to kick off as the top two were given black and white warning flags for track limits.

Then two laps later, race leader Verhagen was given a five second time penalty for disrespecting track limits, and on the following lap, Novalak was also given the same penalty which dropped the top two down to a net fifth and sixth and gave Simmons the box seat to win the race.

So in the final two laps of the race, all the attention was on the battle for the de facto race lead with Hoggard close to the back of Simmons, but after a weekend that had the potential to be another frustrating one from the Fortec Motorsports driver, and with the championship leader being given a five second penalty, Hoggard maintained his composure and decided to follow Simmons home on the final two laps of the race.

And with the top four engaged in a massive squabble throughout the whole race, five second time penalties for Verhagen and Novalak dropped them down to fifth and sixth positions despite crossing the chequered flag in first and second places with Frederick and Kiern Jewiss maintaining touching distance of the top four.

Hence, the time penalties for the top two gave Jewiss a top four resultat the end of what was a difficult weekend for the Douglas Motorsport driver after a spirited drive that saw him fight his way up the order. After starting tenth, Jewiss moved up four positions on track, notably grabbing two places from Sasakorn Chaimongkol and Hampus Ericsson in one foul swoop at Club corner on lap two which propelled him up to sixth on the road, and was then classified fourth.

With Verhagen and Novalak classified fifth and sixth, Chaimongkol ultimately claimed seventh place after losing out to Jewiss in the early stages and was just under a second clear of Manuel Maldonado, while Hampus Ericsson recovered from his first lap excursion at Aintree to finish ninth, over five seconds clear of race two winner Benjamin Pedersen who completed the top ten.

So after another dramatic race and another dramatic weekend of racing, Clement Novalak still comfortably holds the lead of the championship by some 36 points over Fortec Motorsport’s Johnathan Hoggard, who recovered well after serving a ten place grid penalty in race one following his race three clash at Snetterton. And with his race three win, Simmons has now moved himself into championship contention as the Douglas Motorsport driver is just 45 points off current points leader Novalak ahead of the next round at Donnington Park in just two weeks time.

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