Fortec Motorsport's Johnathan Hoggard claimed the fastest time of the BRDC British F3 Media Day at Donington Park yesterday afternoon, with a blistering lap of 1m23.933s in the final session of the day.
Hoggard's effort is the quickest recorded by a BRDC British F3 car at Donington Park, and eight tenths quicker than last season’s pole lap. His time came despite limited running in the afternoon after suffering a damaged wheel in the second session of the day, with the British driver 0.324s clear of Fortec Motorsports teammate Manuel Maldonado.
The fastest times of the day were set in an extremely competitive final session in which the majority of contenders bolted on new tyres to attempt performance runs, with the final 20 minutes resembling a qualifying session.
Ayrton Simmons was just 0.065s behind in third for Chris Dittmann Racing, while reigning British F4 champion Kiern Jewiss posted the fourth quickest time, just over a tenth further back for Douglas Motorsport.
American Kaylen Frederick was fifth, exactly a tenth further behind Jewiss, while session two topper Sasakorn 'Cutter' Chaimongkol claimed sixth, having topped much of the final session for Hillspeed.
American Neil Verhagen debuted a striking stars and stripes livery with Double R today, and was seventh fastest overall, but still set a time quicker than last year's pole position.
Clement Novalak (Carlin), Hampus Ericsson (Double R) and Benjamin Pedersen (Douglas Motorsport) completed the end of day top-10, all covered by just under 1.3 seconds.
A total of 16 drivers took part in the official media day tests, which saw almost three hours of running and giving an early indication into this year’s potential competitive order.
Pace-setter Hoggard commented: “I was a bit unfortunate with the second session but we were fast in the first session and faster in the third session. A bit of a messy day in the middle but I kept my head and I was able to produce the lap times.
“I get on really well with this car already and I’ve driven Donington plenty of times in F4 and got on well with the track well, and a combination of the two has produced today’s pace. I’m looking forward to the upcoming tests and we’re back in action again on Thursday here and then visits to Snetterton and Spa before the first round at Oulton.”
Second place man Maldonado said: “We wanted to make sure that if we came back, we’d be even stronger and here we’ve shown that we’ve improved together and here we are putting in some good performances. I have lots of experience now, I’m going to play that to my advantage and I’m looking forward to the start of the season and the title is what I am aiming for.”
Third fastest driver Simmons commented: “Ending the day in P3 is really positive and we knew we had the pace. We didn’t go onto new tyres in the first two sessions but always knew we had a lot of potential to end up in the top three. It’s a really good start to the season for me and the team and I’m buzzing for the new season, it’s so close out there, with only one or two tenths going to cover us all, it’s the strongest grid I’ve seen in British F3 and can’t wait to get to Oulton Park.”
Fourth place Jewiss added: “It was good, we go away with a few questions over a few things that we can now sort out, and we were pretty fast so it was a good first official day. Some people may have been up to the usual media day tricks, but it’s been a very positive day. I managed to work on myself and we got the car very nice and let’s see what we can do in the next few weeks leading up to the first race.”
Fifth fastest driver Frederick said: “We’ve done quite a lot of testing together and I feel pretty prepared going into the season. We’re still getting there with the car, we didn’t quite get it where we wanted to in the last session but we’ll be there when the season comes and I feel strong and confident. There’s no reason for me not to think I’ll be a championship contender with all the testing I’ve done and from what the team has seen. I’m here to win some races this year and I think I can do that.”
BRDC British F3 Championship, Donington Park Media Day combined classification:
1. Johnathan Hoggard, Fortec Motorsports, 1m23.933s
2. Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, +0.324s
3. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +0.389s
4. Kiern Jewiss, Douglas Motorsport, +0.498s
5. Kaylen Frederick, Carlin, +0.598s
6. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +0.637s
7. Neil Verhagen, Double R Racing, +0.776s
8. Clement Novalak, Carlin, +1.066s
9. Hampus Ericsson, Double R Racing, +1.111s
10. Benjamin Pedersen, Douglas Motorsport, +1.294s