Top Four Best For Chaimongkol On Consistent Weekend At Brands GP
Talented BRDC British Formula 3 Championship racer Sasakorn ‘Cutter’ Chaimongkol pieced together a consistently strong series of results at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 3rd/4th August, to also climb into the top 10 in the driver standings for Hillspeed.
Quick from the outset at the challenging Kent venue, with a top two time in pre-event testing and then the fourth fastest time in qualifying, Chaimongkol went on to deliver a top four finish in race one, 10th position in the ‘reverse grid’ second contest and eighth in the weekend finale.
“It’s been another strong weekend for Hillspeed, although we would’ve liked to have taken a podium away from the weekend – we had the pace to do it”, said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “In all honesty, the GP track isn’t ideal for the F3 cars in terms of overtaking chances, where you qualify is pretty much where you tend to stay.
“Cutter did a good job to be fourth fastest in qualifying and, all in all, we got what we expected from that first race with good pace. In the reverse grid race we needed to make up more ground on lap one to have any impact, but Cutter still performed well and in race three he did everything possible to try and improve on the eighth place he eventually wrapped-up.”
Saturday’s track action started with a 30 minute free practice session where Chaimongkol posted the eighth fastest time, and in the subsequent qualifying run he made a big step forward with the fourth fastest lap of 1m21.152 seconds (107.94mph) – less than 0.2 seconds shy of the front row.
Making a great start to race one, round 16, the Hillspeed driver maintained his top four placing and on lap two he was just 0.4 seconds shy of the podium battle. With overtaking opportunities always at a premium in single-seaters at Brands Hatch GP Circuit, the contest very much became a case of follow the leader.
Staying within touch lap after lap, and keeping a good gap to the pack behind, Chaimongkol went on to end the 14 lap race a little over a second shy of his second podium of the season. His best lap of 1m21.648s was only a couple of tenths of a second outside top three pace.
After his excellent performance on Saturday, Chaimongkol had to begin the ‘reverse grid’ race on Sunday morning from 13th on the grid and faced a very tough challenge with overtaking at an absolute premium. No sooner had the contest got underway, the Safety Car was required after the two front row starters tangled into the first corner.
The action got back underway on lap five with Chaimongkol holding an elevated 12th position and despite running very strong pace he was sandwiched between points leader Clement Novalak and Kiern Jewiss.
As the race wore on, Chaimongkol remained trapped in 12th position as the train of cars from fourth position back continued to circulate nose-to-tail. Then, a couple of laps from the end, the Hillspeed driver took 11th place when Kaylen Frederick crashed-out at Paddock Hill Bend. Post-race, a penalty for Benjamin Pedersen further elevated Chaimongkol into the top 10.
Lining-up sixth on the grid for the third and final race of the weekend, the Thai driver was edged back to seventh place into Paddock Hill Bend at the start and was then shuffled to eighth place by Neil Verhagen into Surtees after the American dived up the inside at the left-hander.
Chaimongkol remained glued to his rival for the entire duration of the 14 lapper with never more than a few tenths of a second splitting them. Applying maximum pressure, and never relenting in his pursuit, the Hillspeed racer tried everything to unsettle Verhagen but with passing opportunities all but non-existent, as proven throughout the order, Chaimongkol had to settle for eighth.
With just 0.6 seconds separating the pair during the early stages, during the final third of the race the gap was a mere two tenths of a second but a clear and, most importantly, clean overtaking chance never presented itself. Even so, three strong points results once again this weekend for Chaimongkol mean the Thai has climbed into the coveted championship top 10.
British F3 returns to Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit for the penultimate event of the 2019 season over the weekend 17th/18th August. Hillspeed’s second driver, Argentina’s Nico Varrone, will make his return to action then and will also contest the championship finale in September at Donington Park.
2019 British F3 Championship Standings (after Rd18)
10th Sasakorn Chaimongkol, 204pts; 17th Nico Varrone, 74pts