Carlin’s Nicolai Kjaergaard kept his title hopes alive with two wins in 2018 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship round at Donington Park.
The Danish driver did well to qualifying on the front-row alongside teammate Billy Monger for Race 1 on Saturday. He didn’t waste much time to take the lead on a damp track in the opening lap as Monger dropped ground to sixth after a poor start.
Chris Dittmann Racing’s Ayrton Simmons slotted in second from Carlin’s Jamie Caroline who cleared the British driver on Lap 2. While Kjaergaard led the way, Caroline steadied in second with Simmons then fighting with Double R Racing’s Krishnaraaj Mahadik.
The Indian made a good start to be fourth from eighth in the opening sequence. The two had a back and forth tussle for third which Mahadik won eventually on Lap 9 to finish third as Kjaergaard took the win from Caroline.
It was crucial for the Dane as title rival Double R Racing’s Linus Lundqvist was only eighth in the order. Simmons then lost out to the recovering Monger as well who salvaged fourth after starting on pole.
Lanan Racing’s Kush Maini ended up fifth ahead of Simmons with Fortec’s Manuel Maldonado in seventh followed by Lundqvist, Hillspeed’s Jusuf Owega and Douglas Motorsport’s Jamie Chadwick in the Top 10.
The second race on Sunday was marred with red flags and safety car period which meant only eight racing laps were completed. The initial start was red-flagged due to damage to the circuit thwarting Fortec’s Tom Gamble’s lead run over Carlin’s Sun Yue Yang.
The Chinese driver took reverse-grid pole but lost out to Gamble on initial start. However, with the red flag, the grid took position as per the original grid meaning Yang started on pole alongside Hillspeed’s Sasakorn Chaimongkol.
Yang held on to his lead this time but Chaimongkol lost out heavily as Double R Racing’s Pavan Ravishankar and Gamble assumed second and third when the safety car was deployed for a multi-car incident at the back of the field.
The clash was initiated by Douglas Motorsport’s Max Defourny who sent teammate Arvin Esmaeili into a spin as he took with him points leader Lundqvist, Owega and Maini – all four retiring on the spot.
The Belgian was handed a 10-second time penalty following the incident which dropped him to 11th from his original fifth position. The race re-started with Yang leading while Ravishankar came under tremendous pressure from Gamble.
The British driver snatched second on Lap 6 where he would finish behind Yang, who claimed his first win of his career. However, Gamble was excluded from the result for a technical infringement, allowing Ravishankar to be second.
This promoted debutant Fortec’s Hampus Ericsson to third – brother of Formula 1 driver Marcus – as the Swede claimed his first podium finish. Chaimongkol recovered to fourth with Mahadik in fifth after Defourny’s penalty.
The Top 10 was then completed by Simmons in sixth followed by Lanan’s Josh Mason, Caroline, Chris Dittmann Racing’s Cian Carey and Kjaergaard. It was Lundqvist’s first DNF of 2018 in a race which saw only 14 finishers.
It was Monger on pole again for the final race of the weekend alongside teammate Kjaergaard in a repeat of Race 1. However, this time Monger held on to his lead for the opening lap despite attempts from the Dane.
But not for long as a mistake from Monger dropped him to fourth allowing Kjaergaard to take the lead on Lap 2 with Mahadik jumping from sixth to second ahead of Caroline. The British driver’s suspension issue brought Monger back to third on Lap 3.
The safety car then bunched up the field together but Kjaergaard had enough legs on re-start to keep his lead while Mahadik came under pressure from Monger for second. The two then ensued in a close fight which allowed Kjaergaard to pull away.
In the end, the Dane claimed his second win of the weekend and fifth of the season in a dominant performance with Mahadik fending off Monger to take his second podium of the weekend while Monger claimed his first.
Even though the British driver couldn’t win any of the races, but he managed to put the car on pole twice on the same circuit where he had the horrific crash last year in British F4. Chadwick finished fourth from Ericsson with Defourny in sixth.
The Belgian fended off pressure from Simmons as Maldonando, Yang and Chainmongkol completed the Top 10 as championship leader Lundqvist could only manage 11th in what was a difficult round for the Swede.
Even though he keeps the advantage heading into the finale at Silverstone, Kjaergaard (446) brought down the gap to just 50 points to still keep himself in the contention. Maini (346) also dropped points in third as Mahadik (316) gained a place to fourth.