Chris Dittmann Racing’s Ayrton Simmons had a near-perfect start to the 2021 BRDC British F3 Championship, claiming a double pole in qualifying and converting his grid position to victory in the first race of the year.
Simmons finished just over a second clear of debutants Ollie Bearman (Fortec) and Zak O’Sullivan (Carlin) in this afternoon’s season opener to take an early championship lead following a lights to flag victory.
Carlin’s Christian Mansell had set the fastest time in practice ahead of qualifying, but a record-breaking performance from Simmons ensured he claimed a double pole position. His quickest time of 1m20.298s is the fastest lap ever recorded on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit by a BRDC British F3 car.
The race two grid is formed by each driver’s second best time and Simmons also topped that classification, meaning he’ll again start from the front in race two tomorrow morning (Sunday).
Bearman was second fastest in the session, just over a quarter of a second away from Simmons, and just 0.006 seconds quicker than O’Sullivan in third.
Simmons made an ideal start from pole position to lead the field down to Paddock Hill Bend, before extending his lead to over a second by the end of the first lap. Bearman trimmed that to seven tenths of a second by lap three, but Simmons stretched the gap back to over a second by the end of the race. This was the sixth British F3 win of Simmons’ career and his third at Brands Hatch.
Bearman, in his first UK car racing appearance settled for second, the 16-year-old finishing just four tenths of a second clear of Carlin’s F4 runner-up O’Sullivan.
Hitech GP duo Bart Horsten and Reece Ushijima finished in fourth and fifth, while Frederick Lubin ensured Arden Motorsport claimed sixth place in their first BRDC British F3 race.
Simmons therefore holds an early championship lead in the drivers’ standings, while his Chris Dittmann Racing team takes the initial advantage in the teams’ championship.
Simmons commented: "I'm delighted and really happy with the job we've done so far. It's the first time I've started the season with a race win, so that's a plus. It was a comfortable win, very controlled, very consistent which is what we needed here.”
"I didn't really feel under any pressure, we know how hard it is to overtake around here so I was really focused on just doing my own thing. I kept focusing on my own lap times really and trying to keep them within one or two tenths of my best.”
The second race of the weekend starts at 11.10am tomorrow morning (Sunday), with the reversed grid race three due off at 16.15. Both contests will be streamed live on the official BRDC British F3 website.
BRDC British F3 Championship, Brands Hatch GP, Qualifying top-six (race one grid):
1. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, 1m20.298s
2. Oliver Bearman, Fortec Motorsports, +0.273s
3. Zak O'Sullivan, Carlin, +0.279s
4. Roberto Faria, Fortec Motorsports, +0.318s
5. Bart Horsten, Hitech GP, +0.382s
6. Reece Ushijima, Hitech GP, +0.397s
BRDC British F3 Championship, Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, race one top-six:
1. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, 12 laps
2. Oliver Bearman, Fortec Motorsports, +1.207s
3. Zak O'Sullivan, Carlin, +1.644s
4. Bart Horsten, Hitech GP, +6.872s
5. Reece Ushijima, Hitech GP, +10.579s
6. Frederick Lubin, Arden Motorsport, +11.388s