Kjaergaard reignites F3 championship battle

Kjaergaard reignites F3 championship battle

with second Donington victory

Carlin's Nicolai Kjaergaard secured his second BRDC British F3 victory of the Donington Park weekend this afternoon, and capitalised on a bad day for championship leader Linus Lundqvist to breathe new life into the championship fight, with just three races remaining at Silverstone on 13-14 October.

Kjaergaard started the weekend 111 points behind Lundqvist, and as a real outsider for the championship, but leaves the East Midlands just 50 points in arrears after his best weekend of the season, and Lundqvist's most challenging, with the title to be decided between the Scandinavian duo at the home of the British Grand Prix.

The morning's race saw a maiden triumph for Chinese driver Sun Yue Yang, with Pavan Ravishankar and series newcomer Hampus Ericsson on the podium, while Lundqvist suffered his first retirement of the season.

Kjaergaard then slashed Lundqvist's championship lead even further in race three with his second win, ahead of Krishnaraaj Mahadik, while Billy Monger, starting from his second pole position of the weekend, claimed an emotional podium finish. 

Race two
Yang claimed his maiden BRDC British F3 win at Donington Park this morning, converting his pole position and keeping a cool head in a chaotic race.

Ravishankar claimed second with series newcomer Hampus Ericsson completing the podium. 

There was drama right from the start, with the race red flagged after the initial start due to damage to a kerb at the chicane, and ruining excellent starts for Tom Gamble, who had climbed into the lead, and for championship leader Lundqvist, who had climbed from 11th on the grid to third, while Manuel Maldonado retired with damage. 

With the race restarted with the original grid formation, it was Yang who led them away off the line, but further down the order there was chaos at Redgate. Arvin Esmaeili was nudged into a spin by team mate Max Defourny and impacted with with Lundqvist and Kush Maini, while Jusuf Owega was also caught up in the drama, with race one winner Kjaergaard having to take avoiding action in the process. 

Esmaeili, Maini, Lundqvist and Owega were all out on the spot, with this being Lundqvist's first retirement of the season, on a weekend where he could have sealed the championship. 

The safety car was deployed for several laps while the damage was cleared. Upon the restart, Yang got a decent lead on the field and then led the race for the duration, establishing a gap of over two seconds, while Ravishankar held off the charge of Gamble until the penultimate lap, when the Nottingham driver managed to make a move at Goddards to take second. But with little time left, Gamble was unable to take the fight to the Chinese driver. Gamble though was excluded from the results of the race due to a technical infringement, promoting newcomer Ericsson to the podium. 

Defourny had claimed his best British F3 result with fifth, but was also penalised for his involvement in the first lap incident and was relegated to 11th after picking up a 10 second time penalty. On his 20th birthday, Sasakorn Chaimongkol therefore secured fourth place, less than two tenths clear of Krishnaraaj Mahadik, who climbed from 16th on the grid to take fifth. 

Ayrton Simmons claimed sixth ahead of front row starter Josh Mason, with Carlin's Jamie Caroline 0.176s behind at the chequered flag and taking eighth.

Cian Carey recorded ninth place in his second BRDC British F3 race, while Kjaergaard recovered from his off track excursion on the opening lap of the restart to take 10th place.

Meanwhile, Billy Monger finished in 14th place and last on the road after pitting to change a front wing, but set fastest lap and in doing so claimed pole position for race three, his second pole of the weekend. 

Race three
Kjaergaard claimed his second win of the weekend this afternoon, finishing two seconds clear of Mahadik while Monger claimed third place, having started from pole. 

Jamie Chadwick was fourth ahead of Ericsson, who capped off a fine maiden weekend with fifth place. Defourny claimed sixth ahead of Simmons with Manuel Maldonado eighth. Race two winner Yang and Chaimongkol completed the top-10.

Monger made a decent start from his second pole position of the weekend, though teammate Kjaergaard made a slightly better one and was able to draw alongside the British driver on the run to Redgate, though with the inside line, Monger was able to hold the lead.

Under heavy pressure, Monger led across the line ending lap one, with a margin of 0.389s over the Dane. But at the Fogarty chicane on lap two, Monger made a mistake and dropped to fourth, promoting Kjaergaard into the lead, as well as Mahadik and Jamie Caroline into second and third.

On the same lap, Chris Dittmann Racing's Cian Carey went off at the chicane and was left beached in the gravel. The following lap there was more drama at the chicane, as Caroline sustained suspension damage and went off, ultimately retiring to the pits.

A safety car was brought out while Carey's car was recovered, with the race resuming on lap eight. Kjaergaard immediately built a gap, leading by over a second after the restart, while Monger piled the pressure on Mahadik, with the Brit around three tenths behind for a couple of laps.

The squabbling duo allowed Kjaergaard to pull out further, eventually claiming the flag by over two seconds to take his second win of the weekend and his fifth of the year to reignite his championship charge. 

Mahadik was able to pull out a gap in the closing stages to take second, over a second clear of Monger, who claimed his third podium of the season, and at the circuit where he suffered his life changing accident last year.

Chadwick enjoyed a strong race to finish just 0.7s away from the podium places, confirming the pace that put her third on the grid for the race, while Hampus Ericsson's fifth place was a good follow-up from his race two podium on his debut weekend, having started seventh.

Defourny's sixth place came from 10th on the grid, while Simmons' enjoyed a strong return to BRDC British F3, with seventh place in race three adding to two other top-sixes. 

Maldonado had a stunning race, climbing from 18th on the grid to finish eighth, and within 10 seconds of the leader, while Sun Yue Yang capped off a fine day with ninth place to add to his maiden win from earlier. Chaimongkol finished ahead of championship leader Lundqvist, who recovered from his first retirement of the season to record an 11th place finish from 16th on the grid, though not enough to stop Kjaergaard from slashing his margin to just 50 points.

The BRDC British F3 Championship will therefore be decided at Silverstone in three weeks time, with Lundqvist and Kjaergaard the only two drivers still remaining with a chance of taking the crown, and over 100 points still left to fight for.

Speaking at the end of the final race, Kjaergaard commented: "It's been my best weekend of the season by a long way, and the first one of the year where I have taken two wins which I'm really pleased with. Obviously with the absence of good results for the other front-runners in the championship, it's made my good results even more important. I've consolidated second place in the championship, but have also gained on Lundqvist, so it's been a really good weekend.

"If you'd asked me before the season if I could have been the champion I'd probably have said no, but as it looks now, anything could happen. It doesn't take much when you get 35 points twice in a weekend and the gap closes quickly.". 

BRDC British F3 Championship, Donington Park race two top-10:
1. Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, 8 laps
2. Pavan Ravishankar, Double R Racing, +3.743s
3. Hampus Ericsson, Fortec Motorsports, +4.135s
4. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +5.308s
5. Krishnaraaj Mahadik, Double R Racing, +5.477s
6. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +7.615s
7. Josh Mason, Lanan Racing, +8.056s
8. Jamie Caroline, Carlin, +8.232s
9. Cian Carey, Chris Dittmann Racing, +12.018s
10. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, +13.653s

BRDC British F3 Championship, Donington Park race three top-10:
1. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, 11 laps
2. Krishnaraaj Mahadik, Double R Racing, +2.067s
3. Billy Monger, Carlin, +3.313s
4. Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, +4.104s
5. Hampus Ericsson, Fortec Motorsports, +4.939s
6. Max Defourny, Douglas Motorsport, +6.212s
7. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +7.961s
8. Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, +9.170s
9. Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, +9.559s
10. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +10.439s

BRDC British F3 Championship standings after race 21 of 24:
1. Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, 496pts
2. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, 446pts
3. Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, 346pts
4. Krishnaraaj Mahadik, Double R Racing, 336pts
5. Tom Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, 316pts
6. Billy Monger, Carlin, 274pts
7. Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, 268pts
8. Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, 240pts
9. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, 222pts
10. Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, 220pts

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