Nicolas Varrone vies for victory in reverse-grid race at Spa Francorchamps

by Nathan Hine
Nicolas Varrone wins the reverse-grid race at Spa Francorchamps

Hillspeed racer Nicolas Varrone scored his first win in the BRDC British F3 Championship after the Argentine won an action-packed race around Circuit de Spa Francorchamps on a sunny morning in the Ardennes Forest. Josh Mason made his second appearance to the reverse-grid race podium in two meetings to finish second as Neil Verhagen claimed another podium finish in third.

The race got underway with Verhagen making a poor start on the run down into Le Source for the very first time which saw Pavan Ravishankar claim the lead of the race from the American as mayhem spewed behind which saw several cars ran wide off the road before the run through Eau Rouge and down the Kemmel Straight on the first lap.

Behind the top two positions, Andreas Estner made a fabulous move on his team-mate Josh Mason to pass the British driver through Eau Rouge for third. But out front, after losing the race lead off the line, Verhagen used the immense slipstream into Les Combes to seize the lead back from Ravishankar at the end of the opening sector of the race.

But there was drama behind as race one winner Kaylen Frederick was out of the race before it had really begun as the Carlin racer went off at Les Combes and was out of the race with broken rear suspension. This required the Safety car to be deployed to clear the American’s car from a dangerous position.

When the race got underway at the end of lap two, Verhagen had an excellent restart as the American racer had almost a second in hand over Ravishankar when they crossed the line to start lap three. This allowed Mason with a great slingshot past Ravishankar into Les Combes to seize second place and went after Verhagen in hot pursuit.

A lock up for the American into Les Combes meant that Mason was soon able to close the gap to blast past Verhagen down the Kemmel Straight on lap four. But after making an error out of Speakers corner, Verhagen was able to get past into Stavelot.

Meanwhile, Fortec Motorsports driver Johnathan Hoggard makes a crucial move on Nazim Azman at the Fagnes chicane to ensure that he had a car between himself and championship leader Clement Novalak to try and halt the Carlin racer’s consistent championship onslaught.

Up at the front of the field, Mason was able to overtake Verhagen into the bus stop chicane with a simple move onto the brakes to pass the American racer. That was in sharp contrast to Nicolas Varrone’s risky and aggressive double overtake just behind as the Argentine came from a long way back to overtake both Andreas Estner and Pavan Ravishankar in one foul swoop.

Varrone then sets about overtaking Verhagen for second which he manages with ease into Les Combes and after challenging Mason into the bus stop chicane, he performs the same trick on the Lanan racing driver albeit with a much closer encounter on the brakes.

So after managing to hold Mason at bay on the final lap of the race, Varrone scores his first BRDC British F3 race win at Spa Francorchamps and Hillspeed’s first win of the year as Mason finishes a fine second and Verhagen completes the podium in third.

As for the title contenders, Hoggard was unable to pass Benjamin Pedersen and ended up seventh and despite Clement Novalak finishing ninth after losing and gaining a place at the bus stop chicane on the final lap following Kiern Jewiss’s insane overtake past Novalak and Ulysse De Pauw, by virtue of gaining more places in the race, he extends his championship lead to 38 points ahead of race three this afternoon.

Race three gets underway this afternoon at 1500 local time where Chris Dittmann Racing driver Ayrton Simmons will start from pole position.

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