Simmons surges to victory as championship race takes dramatic twist
Chris Dittmann Racing's Ayrton Simmons claimed a lights to flag victory in the opening race of the weekend on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, while an opening lap incident for Carlin's championship leader Kaylen Frederick meant that he missed most of the contest, only rejoining late on but not completing enough laps to be classified.
Hitech GP's Kush Maini finished second in the race, and claimed 29 points to draw level with Frederick in the title battle. Maini finished just under six tenths behind after closing in on Simmons towards the end, and was over a second ahead of Douglas Motorsport's Ulysse De Pauw, who claimed his third podium of the year.
Double R's Louis Foster gained four places on the run to Paddock Hill Bend on the first lap to climb from eighth on the grid to claim fourth, three seconds back from De Pauw and a second and a half clear of Douglas Motorsport's local man Kiern Jewiss. Chris Dittmann Racing's Josh Skelton took sixth, seven tenths of a second clear of Hillspeed's Sasakorn Chaimongkol, with Benjamin Pedersen (Double R) and Piers Prior (Lanan) finishing within a second of the Thai driver.
Hillspeed's Oliver Clarke moved from 16th on the grid to complete the top-10 finishers.
Simmons made a strong start from pole, despite little opportunity to practice after his late call-up, but still established a gap of several car lengths to Maini who held second ahead of De Pauw, while the Belgian's teammate Manaf Hijjawi slipped from fourth to the tail of the field after an incident at Druids.
Moments later, Frederick, who was fighting up from the back of the grid after an incident in qualifying, suffered yet more Saturday morning drama after an incident with Piers Prior at Surtees, which saw the Carlin car embedded in the barriers on the corner exit, and was left requiring assistance to rejoin the race, resulting in a lengthy safety car period. Frederick returned to the pits to repair damage including a suspension wishbone, and completed the last three laps as he aimed to set a lap time for the race four grid.
The safety car circulated until the end of lap five, with Simmons making a good restart to lead by almost seven tenths as they crossed the line. The British driver extended the gap to a second by the end of lap eight, but thereafter the Indian title contender began to close the gap, taking a couple of tenths out of the lead on lap nine, and trimming the margin to just over six tenths starting the final tour. Simmons kept his nerve though to win by 0.587 seconds.
De Pauw in third kept the lead duo firmly in his sights but wasn't quite able to join them in their battle, though he did set the fastest lap of the race, potentially putting him in a good position for the race four grid. Foster's opening lap heroics saw him take several cars around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend, while Jewiss mainly circulated in clear air on his way to fifth, maintaining his grid position as did Skelton and Chaimongkol.
Pedersen climbed from 11th to take ninth, while Prior got his elbows out on his way from 14th on the grid to ninth in the race, with Clarke making similar progress. Josh Mason was another to benefit from the various dramas as he took his Lanan car from 13th to 11th, while Nazim Azman started and finished 12th for Carlin.
Hijjawi recovered from his opening lap issues to claim 13th, seven tenths behind Azman, while Lanan's Bart Horsten started tenth and climbed to eighth by mid race distance, only to slip to 14th on lap eight, ahead of Hitech's Reece Ushijima who was the final classified finisher and will therefore provisionally start race two from pole position.
Frederick's dramatic morning meant after starting 15th for race one, he now faces a starting position of 16th for race two, and will start 15th for race three, giving Maini an ideal opportunity to take the championship lead. The reversed grid second race starts at 15.00 UK time, with live timing available by clicking here.
After race one at Brands Hatch this morning (Saturday), the driver of car 22 (Piers Prior) has been disqualified from the results of the race.
Following investigations and having heard evidence from the competitors, the Clerk of the Course found that the driver of car 22 was guilty of contravening Motorsport UK Regulation C1.1.5 - Driving in a manner not compatible with general safety. The driver of car 22 was judged to have caused a collision with car 8 (Kaylen Frederick) at turn four, causing car 8 to leave the track and strike the barriers.
Accordingly, under Motorsport UK Regulation G5.3, the driver of car 22 was disqualified and issued with four penalty points. Frederick wasn't classified in the final results while Prior had finished ninth.
Additionally, after investigation and having heard evidence from the competitor, the Clerk of the Course found that the driver of car 8 (Frederick) was found guilty of contravening Motorsport UK Regulation C1.1.9.
Accordingly, under Motorsport UK Regulation G5.3, the driver of car 8 was formally reprimanded and issued with two penalty points.
(UPDATED)BRDC British F3 Championship, Brands Hatch Grand Prix race one result:
1. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, 11 laps
2. Kush Maini, Hitech GP, +0.587s
3. Ulysse De Pauw, Douglas Motorsport, +1.683s
4. Louis Foster, Double R Racing, +5.013s
5. Kiern Jewiss, Douglas Motorsport, +6.497s
6. Josh Skelton, Chris Dittmann Racing, +8.081s
7. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +8.858s
8. Benjamin Pedersen, Double R Racing, +9.318s
9. Oliver Clarke, Hillspeed, +10.516s
10. Josh Mason, Lanan Racing, +12.089s
11. Nazim Azman, Carlin, +13.456s
12. Manaf Hijjawi, Douglas Motorsport, +15.511s
13. Bart Horsten, Lanan Racing, +16.630s
14. Reece Ushijima, Hitech GP, +24.763s
NC. Kaylen Frederick, Carlin, 3 laps completed
DQ. Piers Prior, Lanan Racing
Photo credit: BRDC British F3 and British GT