Fourth Place For Chaimongkol Weekend Best For Hillspeed At Brands GP
Hillspeed driver Sasakorn ‘Cutter’ Chaimongkol produced another strong outing in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 4th/5th August, taking fourth place and two other top 10 results from the ante-penultimate event of the season.
Beginning the sixth race meeting of the campaign with 10th place in round 16 on Saturday, the Thai racer claimed a great top four finish in round 17 on Sunday morning and then added another top 10 in round 18 later in the day – following a terrific battle with team-mate Jusuf Owega.
German youngster Owega finished just behind Chaimongkol in race one in 11th place, before battling to a sixth place result in the second encounter and then besting his fellow Hillspeed driver in race three to finish a split second ahead in ninth place.
Ben Hurst again made strong improvements throughout the Brands Hatch GP weekend, culminating in a very competitive drive to 12th position in round 18 on Sunday afternoon – lapping little more than a second shy of fastest lap pace around one of the most challenging tracks on the calendar.
“I’m very pleased indeed with how well all three guys did this weekend, especially when you consider their complete lack of track experience at Brands”, said Richard Ollerenshaw, team principal of Hathersage-based Hillspeed, “Thursday morning was the first time they had tested on the Indy Circuit and Saturday’s brief 20-minute practice was their first run on the full GP track.
“Cutter and Jusuf were pretty well matched during the weekend, and they both picked up some good results and strong points finishes. Ben kept improving throughout and, for me, race three was his best race performance of the year so far – he did a great job, kept pushing to the end. Overall, it’s been a positive weekend for the whole team.”
Great progress at Brands Hatch GP for hard-working Hillspeed trio
Chaimongkol was the fastest of the Hillspeed trio in free practice on Saturday morning and he remained so in qualifying with the 10th quickest lap, around 0.7 seconds shy of the top six, while Owega qualified for round 16 with the 13th fastest time and Hurst was 15th quickest.
With overtaking at a premium on the full length 2.4-mile Grand Prix Circuit, the opening race of the weekend was largely a processional affair and Chaimongkol ran in 10th position for the full 14 laps in Saturday’s contest.
He didn’t have time to relax at any point, though, with team-mate Owega in his wheeltracks from lap one after gaining two places at the start. With very little to choose between the pair, at the flag only 0.5 seconds separated them. Hurst was edged back to 16th position on lap one and he stayed there for the duration, an unfortunate excursion on the second tour losing him around 14 seconds.
For the ‘reverse grid’ race on Sunday morning, round 17, Hurst lined-up on pole position, Owega was fifth on the grid and Chaimongkol sixth. Hurst was edged back to fourth on the opening lap, although the quick-launching Pavan Ravishankar was ultimately penalised for a false start, but on lap two it all went awry for the Canadian when he unfortunately slid off into the gravel at Clark Curve.
Chaimongkol, who had risen into fourth position prior to the emergence of the Safety Car after his team-mate’s unfortunate excursion, enjoyed a strong race and although edged back to fifth place on lap seven following the re-start, it was fourth on corrected times when on-the-road race leader Ravishankar’s penalty was applied.
Circulating with competitive lap times and running comfortably in the lead pack, the Thai driver maintained fifth on the road to the chequered flag on lap 13 to secure fourth on the amended timesheets. Notably too, his best lap of the race was quicker than that of the race winner.
Owega lost out to Chaimongkol initially off the start to slip from fifth to sixth and he was shuffled down to seventh prior to the Safety Car. Fending off the attentions of Manuel Maldonado following the re-start, Owega maintained position to the flag which was, of course, sixth on corrected times.
Race three, round 18, served up a fantastic inter-team battle between Owega and Chaimongkol and Hurst also produced an impressive drive. Thai racer Chaimongkol lined-up 10th on the grid, one place ahead of Owega, but the German had the best of the start to get ahead of the sister car.
While Owega managed to see off his team-mate for the remainder of the 14-lap contest, where they moved into ninth and 10th places respectively when Sun Yue Yang went wide into the gravel at the end of lap six, there was never any more than a few tenths of a second between them.
As ‘Cutter’ applied immense pressure, so Owega repelled the attack with some great driving lap after lap and neither put a wheel wrong. In the end, just 0.2 seconds separated the team-mates at the chequered flag and the young German was only 0.4 seconds shy of eighth placed Krish Mahadik.
From 15th on the grid, Hurst moved ahead of Ravishankar at the beginning and then climbed into 13th place following Yang’s excursion mid-race. Improving his lap times, circulating little more than a second shy of fastest lap pace, Hurst climbed into the top 12 on the penultimate tour when Arvin Esmaeili retired and the Canadian also repelled a late challenge from the recovering Yang.
Hillspeed’s ‘home’ track, Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit in the East Midlands, will host the penultimate race meeting of the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship season over the weekend 22nd/23rd September.
2018 BRDC British F3 Driver Standings (after Rd18)
9th Sasakorn Chaimongkol, 192pts; 13th Jusuf Owega, 145pts; 17th Ben Hurst, 97pts