Kjaergaard wins race one at Donington
Carlin’s Nicolai Kjaergaard claimed his fourth British F3 victory of the season in the opening race of the weekend, to eat into Linus Lundqvist’s championship lead.
Kjaergaard stole the headlines from teammate Billy Monger, who had claimed an emotional maiden series pole position on his Donington Park return this morning. The Danish driver made a lighting start in tricky conditions to take the lead on the run down to the first corner, and fended off a late charge from Jamie Caroline to seal the win. Caroline claimed second with Krishnaraaj Mahadik third ahead of Monger.
Kjaergaard got the jump on Monger at the start, and then led the contest throughout, keeping his cool under late pressure from Caroline, who rose from sixth on the grid to claim second, with Mahadik taking the final podium spot in third. Monger claimed fourth, having fallen as far back as sixth at one point, with the British driver fending off a race-long battle with Lanan Racing’s Kush Maini.
Ayrton Simmons held a podium spot for Chris Dittmann Racing for much of the race, but dropped back to sixth by the chequered flag. Fortec’s Pastor Maldonado claimed seventh, while Double R‘s championship leader Lundqvist climbed from 14th on the grid to take eighth, with Simmons, Maldonado and Lundqvist separated by half a second at the chequered flag. Hillspeed’s Jusuf Owega and Douglas Motorsport’s Jamie Chadwick completed the top-10.
At the start, Monger made a stuttering get away from pole position, with Kjaergaard already into the lead by the time the field reached Redgate corner, leaving the British driver to fend off the challenges of Simmons on the opening lap. Kjaergaard’s lead was over 1.7 seconds at the end of lap one with Monger holding off Simmons, while Caroline’s decent start saw him climb up two places in the opening stages.
It wasn’t plain sailing for Kjaergaard, Simmons passed Monger on lap two and cut Kjaergaard’s lead to 0.8s, while Monger dropped to sixth, promoting Caroline into the podium places. Simmons continued to threaten Kjaergaard on lap three, but a charging Caroline moved past the Chris Dittmann Racing driver on lap four and then set his sights on his Danish team mate. Kjaergaard held a lead of 2.3 seconds in the next few laps, but Caroline began to close that back down again, narrowing the gap to 1.6s on lap eight, and less than a second by the penultimate lap, with the Danish driver’s fourth win of the season coming by just 0.752s.
Mahadik was almost 11 seconds further back, having climbed from eighth on the grid to the podium. Mahadik was in the middle of one of the best scraps of the race, exchanging positions with Simmons on several occasions before cementing the podium spot on lap 10. Monger fought back from his early troubles to claim fourth. He began his fightback by passing Maldonado on lap six, and then claimed fourth when Simmons slipped back on the penultimate lap. Throughout, Monger was almost constantly fending off attention from Maini, with Monger only breaking clear of the battle in the final stages, when he began to threaten for the podium again as Mahadik and Simmons fought for position.
Maini settled for fifth in the end on his 18th birthday, having been as close as 0.116s to Monger, and was comfortably clear of Simmons, who seemed destined for the podium only to slip back on lap 11. Maldonado dropped from fifth on the grid to finish seventh, having ran as high as fourth in the opening stages, while Lundqvist’s recovery from 14th on the grid started with a five place gain on lap one. He fell back to 10th shortly after, but made a move stick on Owega on lap nine, and then climbed up to eighth. Owega fell from fourth on the grid to eighth on the opening lap, though secured another top-10 result with ninth, with Chadwick starting 10th and holding the position at the flag.
Series newcomers Hampus Ericsson and Cian Carey finished 13th and 19th respectively for Fortec and Chris Dittmann Racing respectively.