STELLAR WEEKEND FOR BRDC BRITISH F3 NEWCOMERS CHAIMONGKOL AND AL RAWAHI DURING AUTUMN TROPHY
• Top six best for Sasakorn ‘Cutter’ Chaimongkol on British F3 debut
• Abdullah Al Rawahi secures best of P8 during final Autumn Trophy race
• Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing pleased with rookie duo's progress
Formula 3 newcomers Sasakorn ‘Cutter’ Chaimongkol and Abdullah Al Rawahi both made big strides for Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing during the BRDC British F3 Autumn Trophy at Snetterton over the weekend, 29th/30th October, with a strong showing on their respective category debuts.
Marking the duo’s first competitive outing in single-seaters, the end-of-year championship – which was impacted on Sunday by lengthy timetable delays due to thick fog – went well for the Hathersage based team with Sasakorn racing to a best result of sixth place in the third encounter, two positions ahead of team-mate Al Rawahi in a weekend-best eighth.
“The build-up to the weekend couldn’t have been better for us and we couldn’t have asked any more from Cutter and Abdullah in the races, they both did a great job”, said Richard Ollerenshaw on behalf of Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing, “Both went into the weekend on the back foot in terms of the testing time they’d had previously, but their performances were very good indeed.
“Unfortunately, Cutter couldn’t take part in Thursday’s test due to an English exam and Abdullah had limited running at Snetterton before. After getting the first race under their belts, though, they got their heads down in race two and Abdullah’s pace, in particular, was very strong. The conditions to hold race three were marginal but neither were phased, they raced well and took good finishes.”
Ollerenshaw added: “It’s fantastic MSV [MotorSport Vision – event organisers] listened to the teams and brought the championship forward by two weeks, it worked much better overall in terms of the weather we had for testing and the race weekend and the quality of the event was very good. The fog was just one of those unlucky things, overall it was an excellent race meeting.”
Sasakorn and Al Rawahi both progressed nicely in pre-event testing and during the first of the event’s two qualifying sessions on Saturday, the Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing team-mates were pretty much inseparable with their pace – a mere 0.041 seconds splitting them.
Lining up in 11th and 12th position respectively for the first of the scheduled four races, Sasakorn and Al Rawahi held station throughout the 12 lapper but made significant steps. Thai driver Sasakorn ended the race with a best lap time just 0.2 seconds shy of top eight pace, posting his quickest lap of the contest on the final tour.
Beginning round two on Saturday afternoon from the sixth row of the grid in the same order, Sasakorn again headed his team-mate but a moment on lap four at Riches for the Thai enabled Al Rawahi to move past into 11th position.
Going on to conclude the encounter less than five seconds outside the top 10, the Omani posted his best result to that point - and lapped with pace good enough for the top seven - while Sasakorn unfortunately retired on the last lap due to an electrical failure, brought about by damage sustained in the earlier spin.
Sunday’s schedule was badly affected by low-hanging fog and, as a result of the length of the delays, the second qualifying session of the weekend was cancelled. When racing finally could get underway later in the afternoon, round three began with grid order determined by championship position. Due to a penalty for Tarun Reddy, Al Rawahi started ninth on the grid with Sasakorn in 11th place.
On an action-packed opening lap, Al Rawahi moved into the top six as three rivals came to grief with Sasakorn climbing into seventh place. Following a short Safety Car period, racing resumed on lap four and the order remained unchanged between the team-mates. On lap six, though, the Omani had an excursion at Hamilton which dropped him to eighth and elevated Sasakorn into the top six.
Although unable to race this weekend due to being under 16-years-of-age, Jordan Cane – who will graduate to race in British F3 next season – took part in the two pre-event test days in Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing’s third Tatuus-Cosworth F3 car and delivered an impressive showing.
Ending the opening day eighth fastest on combined times, within just 0.5 seconds of the outright pace, the karting sensation was inside the top eight on day two as well with a similar gap to the top of the timesheets to underline his clear ability.
Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing now heads into a busy winter of testing ahead of its first full season of action in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship in 2017.
Final 2016 BRDC British F3 Autumn Trophy Standings:
9th Abdullah Al Rawahi, 36pts; 10th Sasakorn 'Cutter' Chaimongkol, 28pts