Ahmed dominates opening event
It was a dream weekend for Enaam Ahmed at Oulton Park. The Carlin driver made it three out of three wins in the opening event of the 2017 BRDC British F3 Championship. Ahmed was utterly dominant as he passed Toby Sowery to claim Race 1 victory, charged through from eighth for Race 2 success before completing an historic achievement by taking a lights-to-flag triumph in Race 3.
After Saturday’s Race 1 was forced into a Monday rescheduling owing to barrier damage, reigning US Formula 4 Champion Cameron Das – in his first ever BRDC F3 race – lined up on pole position in wet conditions, but as the lights went out, the Carlin man was slow away, enabling his fellow front-row starter Sowery to take the lead into Old Hall. Das’ team-mates Ahmed and James Pull also moved ahead of the American along with Fortec Motorsports’ Ben Hingeley, relegating the 17-year-old to fifth. The top-three began to break clear of the rest of the field and Ahmed claimed the first victory of the season and was followed home by team mate Pull in second place.
After finishing eighth in Race 1, Chris Dittmann Racing’s Omar Ismail lined up on pole position for the partially reversed grid Race 2 and as the lights went out, he led the field. Just behind though there was plenty of drama, with Harry Hayek spinning as a result of contact with Toby Sowery. The Double R Racing driver was left stranded on the exit of the corner and Douglas Motorsport’s Petru Florescu had nowhere to go, making contact, and ending both their races on the spot. Jamie Chadwick was also involved but managed to recover to the pit lane. She was later excluded from the results for gaining outside help however. Sowery meanwhile made it to Cascades but after suffering heavy damage, ended up in the gravel to end his race prematurely. With a number of cars littering the circuit the safety car was deployed, with Ismail then spinning and losing the lead to Callan O’Keeffe, with Ahmed and Hingeley both following the South African through. With Hayek and Florescu’s cars locked together, the race was red flagged and a restarted race length of four laps announced. Once the wreckage had been cleared, the British F3 field formed up once more but this time with O’Keeffe on pole position. As the lights went out, O’Keeffe lit up his rear tyres enabling Ahmed to take the lead and Hingeley to move into second. Ahmed soon set about opening up a gap whilst Hingeley defended from both O’Keeffe and Carlin’s Pull. Despite attempting to pass the Fortec man on numerous occasions, O’Keeffe couldn’t quite pull off the move no matter how hard he tried. Ahmed saw out the handful of remaining laps without incident to claim his second win of the day at Oulton Park, and maintain his perfect start to the 2017 season. Hingeley held on for second with O’Keeffe third, Pull fourth and Nicolai Kjaergaard fifth. Das recovered well after pitting at the end of the formation lap, going from the back of the field to sixth.
Ahmed lined up on pole position for Race 3 and had Das alongside on the front-row. The British driver led from lights to flag and claimed his third fastest lap of the weekend to lead home a Carlin 1-2-3. Das topped off an eventful debut weekend in the main BRDC F3 Series, taking a close second place, with Pull taking his second podium of the weekend in third. O’Keeffe finished fourth and Ismail fifth.
“It feels pretty special. I can’t really believe it! I’m lost for words. I didn’t think it was really possible to win three races in a weekend but it is a really good way to start the season. I can’t thank the guys at Carlin enough, Mark, Luke, Matt, Trev, Sam. It has been awesome, they’ve given me an amazing car and they haven’t put a foot wrong. I didn’t quite deliver in qualifying with third but to come back with the wins has been amazing!” – Ahmed said.
Ahmed leaves Oulton Park with the maximum 95 points on offer and leads the overall standings by 24 points from Pull, with Das eight points further behind in third.
The next round of the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship takes place at Rockingham on 29/30 April.