Chris Dittmann Racing's Ayrton Simmons and Carlin's Nazim Azman claimed race victories on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit (Saturday), as the championship race tightened up significantly.
Simmons secured a double pole position in qualifying, which he duly converted into a victory in race one, while Azman blasted from fourth on the grid to win race two.
Multiple dramas for championship leader Kaylen Frederick means the American has been caught at the top of the standings by Hitech GP's Kush Maini, with the pair even on points.
Simmons secured pole positions for races one and three at Brands Hatch, as he made his series return after a last minute call-up by the Chris Dittmann Racing team. In a damp session, Simmons was 0.084 seconds quicker than Maini, with Douglas Motorsport trio Ulysse De Pauw, Manaf Hijjawi and Kiern Jewiss third, fourth and fifth, with just over two tenths of a second covering the top-five drivers.
With the grid for race three decided by each driver's second quickest times, Simmons claimed pole again by a quarter of a second from teammate Josh Skelton.
Carlin's Frederick started the day with a championship lead of 29 points, but an off at Druids early in the session meant he qualified in 15th place for both races.
Simmons made a great start to lead the field down to Paddock Hill Bend, establishing a gap to Maini with De Pauw slotting into third.
An early safety car was called though as Frederick was nudged into the barriers at Surtees, resulting in him failing to score for the first time this year. The safety car pitted at the end of lap five, with Simmons holding the lead to the flag to take victory half a second ahead of Maini. Second place for the Indian driver meant he scored the 29 points needed to draw level at the top of the standings with Frederick, with De Pauw finishing third in the race for his third podium of the year.
Louis Foster (Double R), Jewiss and Skelton completed the race one top-six.
The full reverse grid saw Hitech GP's Reece Ushijima start from pole position, but a lightning getaway from Azman saw him slice through from fourth on the grid to take the lead before Paddock Hill Bend.
The Malaysian driver absorbed pressure from Ushijima throughout, with the pair rarely separated by more than seven tenths of a second, with Azman taking his first win of the year by 0.699 seconds from the Japanese driver. Lanan Racing's Bart Horsten secured his second podium of the season, having shadowed the top two throughout the race, with Oliver Clarke (Hillspeed), Jewiss and Benjamin Pedersen (Double R) completing the top-six.
Further back, Frederick and Maini scored the same amount of points, meaning they remain tied on 168 points at the top of the standings heading into tomorrow's pair of races, while consistent results from Jewiss mean he's just 10 points further back in third place.
Race one winner Simmons said: "It's amazing. The Chris Dittmann Racing boys have done an amazing job. We got off to a good start and from then on it was pretty straight forward. We spent a few hours looking at starts as I haven't done once since my last race here last year, so it was a bit of a gamble but my start was good. And I just brought it home after that.
"We had a bit of a gap after the start which I was quite happy with, but then the safety car brought us all up together. After that we had a good restart and Kush was catching towards the end. I still had a bit of a gap but he was a bit quicker towards the end which made it a bit nervous!"
Race two winner Azman said: "The last two rounds have been a bit disappointing. At Oulton Park we were really quick but we kind of dipped off at Donington, and then the same here because of the rain. But overall I was quite optimistic starting from P4, I had a gut feeling. I knew that I'm a bit more experienced and that I could definitely get a good launch, and I think I did one of the best launches of my career from P4 straight to P1 before the first turn. After that it was almost smooth sailing almost until the end.
"It started spitting with rain a bit early in the race and until the end, almost the whole race it was raining. So I had to be a bit careful and manage my tyres wisely because I think halfway through the race I had a decent moment because it started to spit a bit too much. After that I was trying to take it easy, maintain the gap, not let him get too close, and in the end we won the race so I'm really happy."
BRDC British F3 Championship, Brands Hatch GP, qualifying top-six:
1. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, 1m31.143s
2. Kush Maini, Hitech GP, +0.084s
3. Ulysse De Pauw, Douglas Motorsport, +0.143s
4. Manaf Hijjawi, Douglas Motorsport, +0.144s
5. Kiern Jewiss, Douglas Motorsport, +0.209s
6. Josh Skelton, Chris Dittmann Racing, +0.356s
BRDC British F3 Championship, Brands Hatch GP, race one top-six:
1. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, 11 laps
2. Kush Maini, Hitech GP, +0.587s
3. Ulysse De Pauw, Douglas Motorsport, +1.683s
4. Louis Foster, Double R Racing, +5.013s
5. Kiern Jewiss, Douglas Motorsport, +6.497s
6. Josh Skelton, Chris Dittmann Racing, +8.081s
BRDC British F3 Championship, Brands Hatch GP, race two top-six:
1. Nazim Azman, Carlin, 14 laps
2. Reece Ushijima, Hitech GP, +0.699s
3. Bart Horsten, Lanan Racing, +1.142s
4. Oliver Clarke, Hillspeed, +2.807s
5. Kiern Jewiss, Douglas Motorsport, +3.136s
6. Benjamin Pedersen, Double R Racing, +3.856s
BRDC British F3 Championship, top-six standings after race nine of 24:
1. Kaylen Frederick, Carlin, 168pts
2. Kush Maini, Hitech GP, 168pts
3. Kiern Jewiss, Douglas Motorsport, 158pts
4. Nazim Azman, Carlin, 144pts
5. Louis Foster, Double R Racing, 138pts
6. Josh Skelton, Chris Dittmann Racing, 134pts