Frederick flies to Race One victory at stunning Spa Francorchamps

by Nathan Hine
Kaylen Frederick wins race one of the BRDC British F3 race weekend at Spa Francorchamps

Kaylen Frederick won the first race of the 2019 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship race weekend at Circuit de Spa Francorchamps after out-duelling Ayrton Simmons following a race-long battle with the Chris Dittmann Racing driver. The American racer ultimately ended up 0.8 s behind Simmons at the chequered flag, with Manuel Maldonado 0.6 s further back to claim his first podium finish since the first round at Oulton Park.

The race got underway with pole man Simmons getting a good launch down into Le Source, and with mayhem further behind, he was able to hold the lead of the race by the time they got into Les Combes on the opening lap.

Neil Verhagen was running second with Frederick just behind in third position. He managed to gain a place from his grid position after his Carlin team-mate Lucas Petersson dropped from third to seventh on the run down the Kemmel Straight, thus undoing all of the Swede’s hard work in qualifying.

At the end of lap one, Simmons led Verhagen by 0.9 seconds, followed by Frederick, championship leader Clement Novalak, who had gained two places to be fourth as local hero Ulysse De Pauw lost a place on the opening lap and was therefore only fifth. But while Simmons had a comfortable gap to Verhagen, it was the battle between the two Americans that was of interest.

As on lap two, Frederick breezed past his fellow countryman down the Kemmel Straight on lap two before they hit the brakes into Les Combes. He then went about cutting into Simmons’s healthy lead, reducing his lead gap to just 0.599 s by the end of the second tour around Circuit de Spa Francorchamps.

Further behind, Maldonado was on a mission and he passed De Pauw for fifth as the Venezuelan racer sniffed a good result in the first race of the weekend in the Ardennes Forest.

Up front, Frederick managed to wrestle the lead from Simmons on lap four, as while the Carlin racer was blocked into Les Combes, the American managed to get the cut-back on the exit of the turn and slid down the inside into Bruxelles to secure the race lead. But that would only be one of several moves for the lead, as the pair continued to battle hammer and tongue and exchanged places for the next three laps.

Maldonado was showing superb pace and went about seizing fourth from points leader Novalak, and after gaining the place illegitimately after cutting the bus stop chicane, he gave the place back and blast past him down the Kemmel Straight. Next, Verhagen was within his sights as the Venezuelan targeted his first podium finish since Oulton Park.

As the American was more focused on not getting involved in the battle for the lead, the Fortec Motorsports driver took advantage and past Verhagen for third place on lap six. But ultimately that move was of irrelevance as Verhagen was forced into the pits a lap later.

As the top two continued to swap places lap after lap, the question was who would make the decisive break in order to claim race victory. After Simmons was unable to do so on lap seven, it was Frederick who made the move on lap eight as the American created a 0.9 seconds buffer over Simmons which meant he was unable to get close enough down the Kemmel Straight on the final lap.

This enabled Kaylen Frederick scored his second race victory of the season after a fabulous performance at Spa Francorchamps, beating Ayrton Simmons by 0.8 seconds in a heart-stopping duel in the Ardennes Forest.

Maldonado claimed his first podium since Oulton Park, ahead of championship leader Clement Novalak, who claimed his fourth consecutive fourth place finish. This allowed him to extend his points leader over Johnathan Hoggard to 36 points after today’s race which saw the Fortec Motorsports driver come home only eighth in what has been a difficult first outing for him at Spa.

As for Neil Verhagen, his visit to the pit lane means that he was the last classified finisher and will start tomorrow’s reverse-grid race from pole position which will get underway at 09:35 local time.

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