The championship leader returns to winning ways in Norfolk, beating pole-sitter Pull to open up his points lead again
Championship leader Enaam Ahmed bounced back from his Rockingham defeats to win his fifth race of the 2017 BRDC British Formula 3 season at Snetterton today (Saturday 27 May), passing podium finishers Toby Sowery and James Pull on his way to victory.
Pole-sitter James Pull converted his qualifying form into the race lead, but relinquished the place to his Carlin team-mate following a mistake at Williams corner on lap two. Lanan Racing’s Sowery bravely passed Ahmed on the outside of Riches corner at the start of the race, but lost the place at Murray’s further round the lap, eventually taking third place to complete the podium.
Pull and Ahmed duelled for pole position on a drying track following a brief but intense shower moments before the half-hour session, with Pull taking full advantage of an error on Ahmed’s final effort to end the session almost half a second clear.
The track was awash as the half-hour session got underway, and the early laps were 20 seconds off the testing pace. As soon as the cars came round on their first flying lap, it became clear that the Carlin cars of Pull, title leader Ahmed and Lanan’s Sowery would be the pacesetters. With the track drying at a fairly slow pace, the Carlin drivers made the session their own, trading fastest times. Ahmed looked to be winning the battle, but then Pull went fastest moments before a red flag was shown to recover Nick Worm’s car in sector one.
The session resumed with 15 minutes remaining and the second half had a familiar feel, with Pull and Ahmed lighting up the timing screens as the track continued to dry. Pull brought the benchmark down to within a couple of tenths of the two minute barrier, and Ahmed’s response saw him try a little too hard, falling almost half a second short of Pull’s pole position time.
Sowery took third place for Lanan, but he was almost a second behind the pole sitter, and he headed Douglas Motorsport’s Callan O’Keeffe and Double R’s Jamie Chadwick. Sixth was Dane Nicolai Kjaergaard, who headed Fortec team-mate and Rockingham race-winner Ben Hingeley. Eight place was Carlin’s Cameron Das, who was over two seconds away from taking his third pole in succession, whilst Jordan Cane qualified ninth for his British F3 debut. Completing the top ten was Manuel Maldonado.
Speaking as he climbed from his Tatuus-Cosworth car, Pull said: “It was great, but [Ahmed is] very good at races and he’s also got a lot of experience. Hopefully I can fend him off, but it will definitely be a good battle.
“To be honest our car is really good in the wet and the dry, so I’m not too upset about [race one being dry]. I’ve just got to get a good start, and Enaam’s going to be right up there with me, but hopefully I can beat him!”
The race took place in dry conditions, in stark contrast to the damp qualifying session. When the lights went out, Pull headed off to Riches in the lead, but fellow front row starter Ahmed moved to the inside hoping to exit the first corner in front. Instead he was passed by Sowery, who ran round the outside of the points leader to take second place. The Lanan driver was unable to complete the lap in this place, however, and Ahmed retook second at Murray’s as the field headed into lap two.
As the second lap got underway, behind the top three O’Keeffe led Hingeley, Chadwick, Das, Cane, Maldonado and Kjaergaard.
Having dispatched with Sowery, Ahmed grabbed the lead from Pull on the Bentley Straight, having got a better exit out of Williams on lap two, Pull running slightly wide, whilst Das moved up to sixth place ahead of Chadwick. Further back, Omar Ismail spun at the Esses, which brought out the safety car.
The race got back underway on lap five, and having established the lead, Ahmed began to extend his advantage over Pull, who ran in a group with Sowery and O’Keeffe for the remaining laps. This left Hingeley in fifth place fending off the attentions of Das, Chadwick and Cane.
Ninth place became hotly-contested, with Kjaergaard and Maldonado battling for the place, which benefitted both Chase Owen and Aaron Di Comberti as they moved up the order and into the top ten.
At the front of the field, Ahmed took the chequered flag almost three seconds clear of Pull, whilst Sowery maintained his third place ahead of O’Keeffe.
Speaking on the podium after receiving his trophy from BRDC member Jeff Smith, Ahmed said: “It was quite tough because I didn’t have that great a start. Toby overtook me and he did a really good move around the outside into turn one and to be honest I didn’t think I’d be able to overtake him back. I had a run through Coram and I watched some BRDC F4 races from four years ago and I think I saw Will Palmer do the move into the last corner. I had a run on Toby so I thought I’d give it a try and it paid off, so I managed to pass him. Then I caught James and he made an unlucky mistake coming onto the straight, so it enabled me to get the slipstream on him and pass him.”
Ahmed now holds a 33 point lead over his team-mate Das, whilst Pull closes to within five points of third-placed Ben Hingeley.
The partially-reversed grid race two at Snetterton gets underway at 10:20 tomorrow (Sunday) with debutant Jordan Cane on pole position. You can, as always, follow all the action through live timing and updates on the official British Formula 3 website.
BRDC British Formula 3 – Snetterton – Qualifying Top-10
1. James Pull, Carlin, 2:00.192s
2. Enaam Ahmed, Carlin, +0.496s
3. Toby Sowery, Lanan Racing, +0.994s
4. Callan O’Keeffe, Douglas Motorsport, +1.706s
5. Jamie Chadwick, Double R Racing, +1.764s
6. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Fortec Motorsports, +2.090s
7. Ben Hingley, Fortec Motorsports, +2.107s
8. Cameron Das, Carlin, +2.190s
9. Jordan Cane, Douglas Motorsport, +2.572s
10. Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, +2.687s
For full results, please click here.
BRDC British Formula 3 – Snetterton – Race One Top-10
1. Enaam Ahmed, Carlin, 10 Laps
2. James Pull, Carlin, +2.960s
3. Toby Sowery, Lanan, +3.872s
4. Callan O’Keeffe, Douglas, +4.381s
5. Ben Hingeley, Fortec, +10.275s
6. Cameron Das, Carlin, +10.655s
7. Jamie Chadwick, Double R, +12.629s
8. Jordan Cane, Douglas, +12.929s
9. Chase Owen, Hillspeed, +18.705s
10. Aaron Di Comberti, Lanan, +20.219s