Maini marches to race three win at Donington to extend championship lead
Hitech GP's championship leader Kush Maini claimed his second win of the year in race three at Donington Park, after coming out on top of a lap one battle with championship rival Kaylen Frederick. Ulysse De Pauw finished second for Douglas Motorsport, while Frederick crossed the line third, but was handed a five second time penalty for exceeding track limits, with Carlin teammate Nazim Azman promoted to the podium as a result.
Frederick had to settle for fourth after the penalty was applied, with Hillspeed's Sasakorn Chaimongkol fifth and Reece Ushijima sixth for Hitech. Bart Horsten secured seventh for Lanan Racing ahead of Douglas Motorsport's Kiern Jewiss, with Benjamin Pedersen (Double R) and series newcomer Frank Bird completing the top-10 for Fortec Motorsports.
At the start, Frederick had a good launch to lead the pack down to Redgate, holding off Maini, while De Pauw and Chaimongkol went wheel to wheel on the approach to the turn, with Chaimongkol edged onto the grass but avoided contact.
Maini then got a good run on Frederick down the Craner Curves and dived up the inside of his championship rival at the Old Hairpin. Frederick refused to budge, so the pair went wheel to wheel through Starkey's Bridge and Schwantz with Maini on the outside, before making the move stick on the inside of McLeans.
Further round, a drama at the chicane for Frederick then allowed De Pauw through into second at the Melbourne Hairpin. The American tried to regain the position around the outside of Goddards, but De Pauw held firm, with the squabble allowing Maini to pull out a gap of 1.3 seconds at the end of lap one.
That set the tone for much of the rest of the race, with Maini able to pull out a steady gap while De Pauw fended off Frederick. The American threatened again at the Old Hairpin on lap two, but allowing Chaimongkol onto his tail, with the Thai going on the attack. In doing so, the Hillspeed driver in turn came under attack, with Azman squeezing through into fourth at the Melbourne Hairpin at the end of the lap.
With all that drama going on, Maini had extended his lead to over two seconds, and he was able to pull out further over the following laps, with the margin reaching 3.2 seconds at the end of the eighth tour.
De Pauw managed to trim the gap over the next two laps, but Maini was never under threat and claimed victory by 2.771 seconds. Frederick was a constant menace for the Belgian driver, finishing 0.359 seconds adrift of the Douglas Motorsport machine at the flag, but was then penalised after the race for exceeding track limits, with Azman instead standing on the podium having fended off Chaimongkol. The result increases Maini's championship lead to 54 points with 10 races still to go.
Chaimongkol in fifth enjoyed an action packed race, going wheel to wheel with Azman on several occasions as well as fending off Jewiss in the early stages. The British driver looked on course to claim a top-six result from an otherwise trying weekend, but faded on the last two laps, with Ushijima moving past into sixth on lap 10 with a move at Coppice. Horsten then gained seventh with a last ditch dive at Redgate on the final lap, with Jewiss just holding off Pedersen at the line to take eighth ahead of the American.
Bird ended his maiden British F3 weekend with a top-10 having started 12th, and was almost a second clear of race two winner Louis Foster (Double R) at the chequered flag. Bird's fellow newcomer and Fortec teammate Roberto Faria was less than half a second further back in 12th, and over four seconds ahead of Mason in 13th for Lanan.
Alex Fores ended his debut weekend in 14th for Chris Dittmann Racing, finishing a lap ahead of teammate Josh Skelton, who pitted on lap four to replace a broken front wing. Hillspeed's Oliver Clarke was another driver in the wars after pitting early on with a puncture, and was the final classified finisher.
The race ran over 11 laps rather than the originally scheduled 12, after Douglas Motorsport's Manaf Hijjawi stopped at the top of the Craner Curves on the formation lap. The start was delayed and the field embarked on another green flag lap reducing the race distance by one lap accordingly.
BRDC British F3 is back in action in two weeks time at Snetterton in Norfolk, with four races on 3-4 October.
BRDC British F3 Championship, Donington Park race three provisional result (amended):
1. Kush Maini, Hitech GP, 11 laps
2. Ulysse De Pauw, Douglas Motorsport, +2.771s
3. Nazim Azman, Carlin, +7.303s
4. Kaylen Frederick, Carlin, +8.130s
5. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +8.291s
6. Reece Ushijima, Hitech GP, +11.669s
7. Bart Horsten, Lanan Racing, +13.103s
8. Kiern Jewiss, Douglas Motorsport, +14.314s
9. Benjamin Pedersen, Double R Racing, +14.799s
10. Frank Bird, Fortec Motorsports, +19.081s
11. Louis Foster, Double R Racing, +20.051s
12. Roberto Faria, Fortec Motorsports, +20.487s
13. Josh Mason, Lanan Racing, +24.631s
14. Josh Skelton, Chris Dittmann Racing, +1 lap
15. Oliver Clarke, Hillspeed, +1 lap
DNF. Piers Prior, Lanan Racing, 2 laps
DNF. Manaf Hijjawi, Douglas Motorsport, 0 laps
DQ. Alex Fores, Chris Dittmann Racing
Photo credit: BRDC British F3 and British GT