- Lando Norris claims the win in eventful and dramatic Knockhill opener
- Enaam Ahmed second overall and the Rookie class victor for the first time
- Disaster for erstwhile points leader Ricky Collard, who tangles with Dan Ticktum
Herta’s penalty promoted TRS Arden driver Enaam Ahmed to a season’s best second place after a brilliant drive by the 15-year-old Londoner, who led for much of the race, and also assisted Sennan Fielding to third place on the podium.
It was certainly a topsy-turvy race for Norris, whose Hankook-shod machine started from pole position after setting an exceptional qualifying lap time of 49.626s around the 1.27-mile Fife track – the quickest practice lap of any competitor across all the championships in action at Knockhill this weekend. Fortec’s Dan Ticktum lined up second on the grid with a qualifying time just 0.078s shy of Norris’s best, with Ricky Collard third ahead of Herta, Ahmed and Sandy Mitchell.
Norris made a perfect grid getaway on a track made slippery by a light shower, but then overcooked it at Clark’s on the opening lap, ploughing straight through the gravel to hand the lead to Ticktum, with Collard, Herta and Amhed in close pursuit. Lando was able to regain the circuit in ninth place and, as the track dried, set about undoing the damage to his race.
Ticktum led Collard for the opening six laps but, as they rounded Taylor’s Hairpin for the seventh time, Ricky attempted a pass up Dan’s inside and their cars tangled, sending Collard to the pits and retirement and Ticktum spinning back to 13th. That put Ahmed, who had earlier passed Herta, into the lead of a car race for the first time. If Enaam had nerves he didn’t show it, heading Herta and Norris – who staged a brilliant recovery drive back to third by the seventh lap – for the ensuing 16 laps.
But Enaam had a problem: he clipped a kerb at mid-distance which put his steering out of kilter, and though he battled to drive around the issue, the Carlin boys were right on his tail into the Hairpin on the penultimate lap and charged alongside him along the start/finish straight to make it a three-abreast start to the final tour.
Ahmed had to yield as they approached Duffus Dip, with Herta stealing ahead and Norris following him through. Colton had no inkling that he’d been served a five-second track limits penalty a few laps earlier and punched the air to celebrate what he thought was his third victory on the bounce…
Norris was surprised and delighted to discover he’d won: “It was certainly an exciting race. I got a good start but then I went into one of the corners too hard and went off. When I got back on though I was quite fast and able to catch back up, especially as the track dried. I was a bit lucky…”
Second-placed Ahmed was philosophical: “Half-way through the race I hit a kerb and it knocked my steering out. I was really slow after that and I couldn’t keep them behind me. I’m really disappointed because I felt a win was on the cards. It’s good to get my first overall podium and Rookie class win, though, and I am happy about that and looking forward to taking that result on into the next races. I had a really difficult first half of the season but I kept my head up and worked hard at it and my pace has got better.”
Sennan Fielding, who crossed the line fourth but was promoted to third, completed a surprised podium trio: “I had no idea I came third until they told me in parc ferme afterwards – I’ll take it, though!”
Forfar racer Sandy Mitchell enjoyed a strong home run in his TRS Arden machine to claim fourth – and Rookie second – ahead of the penalised Herta, who was classified fifth. Now with the Fortec team, James Pull scored his best result since Donington with sixth, ahead of his team-mates Josh Smith and Ticktum. Matheus Leist and Tarun Reddy completed the top 10 for Double R.
Dan Baybutt (JTR) spun to the back early on before climbing to ninth, then tangled with Louise Richardson at the hairpin on the penultimate lap and slipped to 11th, ahead of Jessica Hawkins (Falcon), Ollie Pidgley (Richardson Racing), Petru Florescu (Carlin) and Richardson, who was badly delayed by the Baybutt clash. Jack Butel (JHR) brought up the rear, with Rafa Martins (SWB) an early retiree.
There are two races at Knockhill tomorrow – the reverse-grid race, in which Ticktum will start from pole, at 1025 and then the feature race, to be screened live on ITV4 at 1625, with Ticktum starting from top spot.
Provisional results Round 19, Knockhill, 22 August 2015
23 laps / 29.14 miles
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 20m 04.573s / 87.08mph
2 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +0.662s
3 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +3.424s
4 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +3.702s
5 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +4.413s
6 James PULL / GBR / Fortec +9.706s
7 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec +11.454s
8 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec +21.453s
9 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +26.006s
10 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R +28.145s etc
Fastest lap Norris 50.075s / 91.08mph Est Rec
Rookie class 1 Ahmed; 2 Mitchell; 3 Smith; 4 Ticktum; 5 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR; 6 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin
Grid for Round 20 Ticktum – Smith – Pull – Herta – Mitchell – Fielding – Ahmed – Norris – Leist – Reddy
Provisional championship standings
1 Norris 265 points; 2 Ricky Collard 244; 3 Ticktum 212; 4 Fielding 193; 5= Herta & Leist 170; 7 Mitchell 119; 8 Pull 97; 9 Reddy 80; 10 Ahmed 73 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 338; 2 Mitchell 236; 3 Ahmed 235; 4 Baybutt 234; 5 Florescu 229 etc