BRDC BRITISH FORMULA 3 ROCKINGHAM
Changeable conditions faced competitors as the series moved to Rockingham for rounds 7, 8 and 9.
Lando Norris marked his return to the championship by taking pole by 0.409 seconds from team mate Ricky Collard. A pre-race downpour worried the teams on Saturday but the track was dry enough for slicks as the start, with Collard getting a good start and leading Norris into the Deene hairpin as the cars came off the Speedway’s banking.
Norris slotted in and followed his team mate for much of the race “I made a decision to look after the rear tyres; he was pushing so I thought I’d have a chance in the final laps,” he said after the race. Matheus Leist was in third with Thomas Randle and Aleksanteri Huovinen next up.
With a couple of laps remaining Norris attempted to pass his team mate around Deene, but had to back out of the move just after. Taking a different line through Pif-Paf he managed to complete the pass and with his tyres in better condition held on for his second win of the season, from Collard, Leist, Randle, Huovinen and Enaam Ahmed.
Race two on Sunday was held under glorious sunshine, but the race was red-flagged after a frightening incident for Brazilian Enzo Bortoleto as his car went airborne at Chapman Curve and flipped end over end before coming to a rest upside down. Marshals and medical crews were quickly on the scene and the youngster walked to the medical car seemingly unhurt – a testament to the strength of the Tatuus chassis.
The grid re-formed under the original starting order for a shorter 13 lap race, but Tarun Reddy made a slow start with Enaam Ahmed and Ameya Vaidyanathan challenging for the lead. Ahmed went for the gap between the two ahead of him: “I got a good start and I was going for the lead,” he said after the race. “I went down the middle and they kind of sandwiched me which took my front wing off.”
The drama ahead meant that Thomas Randle, starting fifth on the grid was in the lead at the end of lap one. “I managed to get all four in front of me by turn two, and I held it from there,” the Australian said. “I saw Anaam’s wing come off, managed to scoot by them and got Ameya into Deene.”
Matheus Leist was under pressure from Aleksanteri Huovinen for third which was allowing the fast starting Lando Norris to close in, and Saturday’s winner was soon past the pair of them, setting the weekend’s fastest lap to secure pole position as he pushed.
Norris was catching the pair ahead of him by around half a second a lap, but time ran out as he eventually finished just 0.4 seconds behind team mate Vaidyanathan.
Thomas Randle held on for his maiden victory, and the Australian was ecstatic after the race, enthusing “It’s great to get the monkey off my back. I wanted to get a win in this series no matter what, so I can go home and say ‘I won a race’, but now I want to win more!”
Championship leader Ricky Collard started third on the grid for race three, but a demon start put him past Matheus Leist and Lando Norris through turn one, and Leist then passed Norris at Deene for second.
Once again there was a safety car deployed for a lap one incident between Yentwood and Chapman Curve, Krishnaraaj Mahadik and Eugene Denyssen both retiring, with Mahadik needing to be towed away.
Collard nailed the restart two laps later, opening up a one second gap over Leist and Norris. Fellow Carlin driver Ameya Vaidyanathan retired with clutch issues, and Aleksanteri Huovinen passed Enaam Ahmed for sixth place at Gracelands.
Ahead of them Thomas Randle was constantly pressuring Toby Sowery, eventually finding a way through on lap 10, but with an 8.2 second gap to Norris ahead he couldn’t make any further progress.
Sowery lost fifth place on the final lap as Ahmed moved past, but up front with the leaders running close to identical lap times there was no further change, with Collard taking his first win from Leist and Norris.
“Me and my dad are renowned for our starts – it’s the Collard style!” said an enthusiastic Ricky after the race. “It’s a fantastic feeling to be a British F3 race winner. I’ve got to thank the team, it’s been a solid weekend for Carlin.”