Fortec Motorsports’s Johnathan Hoggard wins race one of the weekend in round six of the 2019 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship after seeing an almost three second lead eroded to just 0.6 seconds over Douglas Motorsport driver Kiern Jewiss by the chequered flag during a tense first encounter around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
After romping to pole position in qualifying by three tenths of a second, Hoggard made a great start and lead into paddock hill bend over Kiern Jewiss and Clement Novalak. Things tightened up further behind and there was fighting throughout the whole field. Manuel Maldonado passed Belgian driver Ulysse De Pauw for sixth place, of which they remained in those position for the remainder of the race. Meanwhile, Hampus Ericsson made amends for his qualifying crash to climb from fifteenth to twelfth on the opening lap.
But at the end of the opening lap, Hoggard led by over a second from Jewiss and Novalak which set the tone for the first half of the race.
The Fortec Motorsports driver continued extending his lead hand over first from the rest of the pack and was over 0.5 s faster than Jewiss for the first four laps to create a 2.406 s margin by that point of the race. And after giving the tyres a breather next time around, he extended his lead to 2.8 s in just six laps of racing.
But Hoggard’s desperation to crush the chasing pack began to come unstuck as after consolidating his margin in the next two laps, by lap nine his gap to Jewiss was just 2.449 s on lap nine and he began eroding Hoggard’s lead by 0.5 s a lap for the next three laps. This meant that Hoggard led onto the final lap of the race with worn tyres and a slender lead of just over a second from Jewiss and Novalak. If there was a need for the Spalding racer’s mental strength, this was it as after comfortably leading in the early stages, his lead was eroded out of nowhere as he went too hard and too fast on his tyres in the first six laps which left him vulnerable in the following six laps.
In the end, Hoggard held off Jewiss by 0.626 s and set fastest lap to boat with Novalak just a watching brief in third place, a further 0.817 s further behind the Douglas Motorsport driver. Sasakorn Chaimongkol held a constant fourth and kept series leader Novalak honest throughout the race duration, finishing ahead of Kaylen Frederick who completed the top five. The driver third in the championship Ayrton Simmons had a frustrating day and was unable to progress from his starting position of eleventh on the grid.
So despite the circumstances and the potential disaster that was looming for Hoggard, he did manage to hold on in order to win the race. This means that he cuts Novalak’s lead to 44 points ahead of races two and three of the weekend at Brands Hatch tomorrow.