Linus Lundqvist claimed a tight victory in the opening BRDC British F3 Championship race of the year at Oulton Park, holding off a charging Nicolai Kjaergaard for second place, while Billy Monger scored a dream podium finish on his racing return from fifth on the grid.

Fortec Motorsport’s Tom Gamble claimed fourth ahead of Krishnaraaj Mahadik in fifth for Double R Racing, with Sun Yue Yang claiming sixth for Carlin.

Jordan Cane claimed seventh for Douglas Motorsport, ahead of teammate Jamie Chadwick with Kush Maini and Sasakorn Chaimongkol completing the top-10.

Pole-sitter Clement Novalak got plenty of wheelspin at the start, and was passed on the run down to Old Hall on lap one by fellow front-row starter Lundqvist and by teammate Nicolai Kjaergaard. Holding third mid-way round the lap, contact between Novalak and Mahadik resulted in Novalak retiring on the spot, delaying Mahadik, and promoting Monger up to third. The safety car was deployed to cover the incident, with racing resuming at the end of lap three.

Lundqvist made a great restart to stretch a margin over Kjaergaard over the line, maintaining a half second advantage for several laps before Kjaergaard began to apply pressure in the closing stages. On lap seven, Lundqvist’s lead was down to 0.346s, and a lap later the pair were nose to tail crossing the line. Displaying strong defensive skills and not allowing his rival any chance to overtake, Lundqvist was then able to stretch his advantage slightly on the penultimate lap, and ultimately claimed the win, his first in BRDC British F3 by 0.826s, becoming the early championship leader in the process. Kjaergaard’s second place was his first podium result in British F3.

Behind Lundqvist and Kjaergaard, there was a dream return to racing for Billy Monger, with a podium finish on his British F3 debut. He started fifth, kept his nose clean on the opening lap and then avoided the clash between Mahadik and Novalak to climb to third. Although not quite able to match the pace of Lundqvist and Kjaergaard, the Brit, making his race return after almost a year spent recuperating from his British F4 accident last April, was never seriously threatened from behind, with Tom Gamble in fourth not quite able to put him under massive pressure. Monger held a second advantage over his nearest rival for the majority of the race, and when Gamble did reduce the margin, Monger was quickly able to restore his advantage.

Monger received a hero’s reception on the podium after the race, with the 18-year-old managing to walk onto the podium to collect his trophy.

Fourth for Fortec’s Gamble represented a strong start to his single-seater career after claiming the Ginetta Junior title last year, while Mahadik recovered from the first lap trouble to claim a strong fifth for Double R Racing.

Sun Yue Yang’s sixth was a strong showing for Carlin, with Douglas Motorsport’s duo Jordan Cane seventh and Jamie Chadwick eighth, gaining four places compared to her starting position after a fighting drive.

Kush Maini’s ninth for Lanan showed plenty of pace, lapping on the same pace as the leaders, while Sasakorn Chaimongol backed up his strong qualifying with a top-10 finish for Hillspeed.

The second BRDC British F3 race, featuring a reverse grid for the first time takes place at 9.50am on Monday morning at Oulton Park.

BRDC British F3 Championship, Oulton Park, race one result:

1. Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, 11 laps
2. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, +0.826s
3. Billy Monger, Carlin, +4.093s
4. Tom Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, +4.898s
5. Krish Mahadik, Double R Racing, +9.055s
6. Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, +10.004s
7. Jordan Cane, Douglas Motorsport, +10.810s
8. Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, +12.486s
9. Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, +13.570s
10. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +16.591s

Click here for full result

2018 BRDC British F3 Championship standings after round one:

1. Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, 35pts
2. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, 29pts
3. Billy Monger, Carlin, 24pts
4. Tom Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, 21pts
5. Krish Mahadik, Double R Racing, 19pts
6. Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, 17pts
7. Jordan Cane, Douglas Motorsport, 15pts
8. Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, 13pts
9. Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, 12pts
10. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, 11pts

Click here for full standings

Driver quotes:

Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing – race winner
“I can’t think of a better way to start the season and I’m super happy. I made a good start and managed to get by the pole sitter, Clement Novalak, and then Nicolai followed me quite closely throughout and put some pressure on me.

“I was determined to keep my head cool and not do any silly mistakes and managed to keep it clean throughout the race. Nicolai was constantly putting me under pressure, but it was great that he made me work for the win.

“He was quick, but around this circuit it is tricky to overtake and I knew where I had to position my car to make it extra wide. I’m very excited about this win and to do it for the team after all they have been through is mega.”

Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin – second place
“We had really good pace once again and the car mega as always. I got a really good start but couldn’t get past Linus, but it’s great to finally get my first podium.

“It was difficult to pass and you have to take a risk if you want to pass, so I settled for second in the end and got a good lap time in as well. I had one or two looks at him where I felt I could have tried a move, but it wasn’t really on so I settled for second. It’s difficult to follow around the fast corners so you have to fall back a little bit and come back with some momentum to get really close and go for a move. It was difficult because he didn’t make many mistakes, he’s a good driver and he had good pace as well.”

“I’m really looking forward to race two to see how it goes, we’ve got to do it for the whole season and it looks as if it could be wet on Monday as well, just to add some extra excitement and I can’t wait to see what it is like.”

Billy Monger, Carlin – third place
“It’s a bit surreal but an awesome feeling, even just to be back racing. The first people I’ve got to thank are all the boys at Carlin for getting me back behind the wheel, especially Grahame ‘Chily’ Chilton, everyone who has supported me, people like Jonathan Palmer, family and friends and everyone that supported me after my accident, without that support I wouldn’t have been out on the grid today, so it’s great to be back.

“If you had told me that I’d have been on the podium first race of the year, I would probably have said you were lying to me! It was awesome to be out there and BRDC British F3 is a tough championship to be in. To get out there and prove I’m competitive is more than I could have ever have asked for.”