Ahmed triumphs to leave Snetterton with British F3 points lead

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Douglas Motorsport’s Enaam Ahmed won a closely fought final race of the British Formula 3 season opener at Snetterton.

The 2015 MSA Formula rookie champion beat poleman Toby Sowery off the grid into Turn 1 and then held off the Lanan racer to win and take an early seven point lead in the championship from race one victor Lando Norris.

“I am really, really happy to progress from third in race one, second in race two and now winner in race three,” said Ahmed.

“It was not an easy race as I was struggling for pace a little bit but I controlled the gap fairly well.

“Toby and Lando were giving me a run for my money and it was hard to keep them behind as I hit a bollard down the straight and I thought that I might have broken my front wing for a second.”

Ahmed led throughout, but his victory was hard fought, with the top five cars covered by just two-seconds at the chequered flag, Ahmed winning from Sowery and Norris.

“I can’t complain with second or my weekend, as I’ve scored a good haul of points,” said runner-up Sowery.

“I was trying to attack Enaam but defend from Lando and that was really hard but it was good, competitive racing.”

Matheus Leist and Thomas Randle completed the closely covered top five, with Aleksanteri Huovinen and Sisa Ngebulana adrift in sixth and seventh respectively.

Ricky Collard fought his way from 19th on the grid to claim a distant eighth, with Thomas Maxwell and Ameya Vaidyanathan rounding out the top 10.

 

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Leist wins delayed second British F3 race from 10th

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Double R Racing’s Matheus Leist stormed from 10th on the grid to win a delayed second race of the British Formula 3 season-opening weekend at Snetterton.

After a four-hour scheduling delay due to stormy weather in the morning, the second race of the weekend got underway in the late afternoon, with Enzo Bortoleto on reverse-grid pole.

Leist started down in 10th, but was up to fourth by the end of the opening lap and by the time the field crossed the start-finish line for a second time he was past a battling Enaam Ahmed and Bortoleto and into the lead.

But Leist’s chance to break away from the chasing pack was stymied by an early safety car, as Carlin’s Ricky Collard, Fortec racer Tarun Reddy and HHC’s Omar Ismail were all eliminated from the race.

The race restarted with five minutes left on the clock after a lengthy clean-up period and Leist controlled the pace to cruise home to win by 1.4s from Ahmed.

Lanan’s Toby Sowery completed the podium with a late pass on Bortoleto – scoring the fastest lap of the opening two races to secure pole for the third race of the weekend.

Aleksanteri Huovinen, who finished second in race one, passed Sisa Ngebulana on the final lap to snatch fourth, with race one winner Lando Norris in sixth.

Thomas Maxwell, fading poleman Bortoleto, Thomas Randle and Jan Jonck completed the top 10.

Norris kicks off British F3 season with dominant wet-weather win

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Carlin’s Lando Norris kicked off the 2016 British Formula 3 season with a dominant victory in a wet opening race at Snetterton on Saturday.

The 16-year-old MSA Formula champion got away cleanly from pole and romped into the distance, crossing the line 19.095s clear of closest rival Aleksanteri Huovinen in second.

“I managed to get a good start which was the main thing and then from there I controlled it pretty well,” said Norris.

“It was drying up towards the end so it wasn’t quite so slippery but overall it was a good race and a good result.”

Huovinen started strongly, jumping from sixth to fourth off the grid and quickly  dispatched Tarun Reddy and Toby Sowery to move into second on the road, but the Finn was unable to match the pace of Norris.

“It is always hard racing in the rain as you can’t see anything when you are trying to pass a car in front but I managed to get to second place quite early and manage my tyres until the end,” said the Double R racer.

“I knew it wasn’t a good idea to go trying to chase Lando so I kept calm and took the second place.”

Enad Ahmed lined up just eighth on the grid, but made steady progress through the field, sweeping past a fading Ricky Collard in the closing stages to take the final spot on the podium for Douglas Motorsport.

Collard had started alongside Carlin team-mate Norris on the front row, but after being swamped at the start and losing out to Ahmed, had to settle for fourth spot, ahead of Sowery.

However, a post-race three-second time penalty for an unfair on the Lannan racer reversed those positions.

Formula Jedi graduate Ben Hingeley charged from 14th on the grid to claim sixth, ahead of Jan Jonck, Enzo Bortoleto and Sisa Ngebulana.

Double R’s Matheus Leist competed the top 10.

Montoya leads home Pagenaud in Penske 1-2 at St Petersburg

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Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya kicked off the 2016 IndyCar season with victory at the Grand Prix of St Petersburg.

Montoya led home Penske team-mate Simon Pagenaud to claim back-to-back wins at St Petersburg after victory a year ago.

The Columbian used the two restarts to his advantage, forcing his way first past Pagenaud and then an impressive Connor Daly to take an unassailable lead, despite encountering steering problems late in the race.

Pagenaud, who inherited pole after team-mate and poleman Will Power was forced to sit out the race, led the opening 47 lap stint but dropped behind Daly under the first caution – triggered by a spinning Marco Andretti – and lost out to an aggressive Montoya off the restart.

The Frenchman was promoted to second when Daly – running an alternate strategy – was forced to stop again and soaked up late pressure from a charging Ryan Hunter-Reay to secure the runner-up spot.

Helio Castroneves had looked set to complete a 1-2-3 for Penske, but faded in the closing stages, dropping to fourth, behind Hunter-Reay.

After his starring run out front Daly’s race fell apart in the closing stages when he was forced to pit again for a new nose just a handful of laps after his second stop, dropping him to 12th.

Michael Aleshin was an impressive fifth for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, ahead of Takuma Salo and reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.

The Chip Ganassi racer had run as high as fifth, but lost time to a lengthy final stop – his crew having to clear his overheating car’s sidepods of debris.

Carlos Munoz came home ninth, despite setting off the second of the race’s two cautions with an overzealous move on Graham Rahal into Turn 5.

Munoz tipped Rahal into a spin, who was then collected by Power’s Penske substitute Oriol Servia, forcing six other cars to a stop and blocking the track.

Tony Kanaan was ninth for Andretti Autosports after running an alternate strategy, with Charlie Kimball completing the top 10.

Ex-Formula 1 racer Alexander Rossi was the best of the rookies, crossing the line 12th, ahead of Daly.

IndyLights champion Spencer Pigot was 15th on his IndyCar debut, with former Marussia F1 racer Max Chilton 17th.

Servia limped home 18th in Power’s car after he was caught up in the Turn 5 melee.

Image courtesy of IndyCar Media 

Barnicoat beats Norris to set up BRDC F4 Autumn Trophy title decider

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Fortec’s Ben Barnicoat survived a late attack from Lando Norris to win the penultimate race of the BRDC Formula 4 Autumn Trophy at Brands Hatch.

Barnicoat led the race from lights-to-flag, but was forced to defend his lead on the run to the chequered flag, as Norris attempted to edge past on the line, in a near photo finish.

“I had a pretty good start but I short-shifted to second which nearly let Lando get past but I just managed to hang on,” Barnicoat said.

Harrison Scott came home third for Douglas Motorsport, meaning he and Barnicoat go into the final race of the Trophy tied at the head of the standings, with 176 points each.

“The main thing was to beat Harrison for the championship standings and I managed to do that so that’s good,” Barnicoat added.

“It’s definitely going to be a good end to the season with the final race of the Autumn Trophy later today.”

Barnicoat led away from pole, and set about building an early one second buffer back to Norris, who himself was shadowed by Scott.

The trio of cars stayed closely contested throughout the 25-lap race, with all three drivers covered by just 1.5s.

Norris made a late push to pass Barnicoat on the final lap, closing through Paddock Hill and Druids, before launching his attack on the run out of the final corner Clearways.

The MSA Formula champion pulled alongside his rival, but Barnicoat was able to hold out for the win, nosing his Tatuus-Cosworth across the line 0.104s clear of Norris.

“I had a few attempts to get past Ben and take the lead but to be honest, he was a little bit too quick for me to get the job done,” Norris explained.

“I nearly had him at the line obviously. I got a better run out of the final corner and pulled alongside but I couldn’t quite get it done. It was very close though!”

Sisa Ngbulana was the last classified runner in fourth, nine seconds back from the leading trio, with Foretell racer Faisal Al Zubair retiring late on.

Image: BRDC Formula 4

Norris scores back-to-back BRDC F4 wins at Brands Hatch

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MSA Formula champion Lando Norris doubled up with a dominant victory in the second race of the BRDC Formula 4 Autumn Trophy finale weekend at Brands Hatch.

Norris, the winner of the opening race on Saturday, beat rivals Ben Barnicoat and Harrison Scott to score back-to-back wins at the Indy circuit.

“It couldn’t be a much better start to the weekend to be honest!” said Norris.

“We made a few changes to the car following race one earlier and that definitely helped.”

Points leader Scott started a wet race from pole by virtue of his fastest lap in the opening race, but it was Norris who made the best start to take the lead, with Barnicoat moving into second.

The 16-year-old quickly pulled car of 2015 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup Rookie champion Barnicoat, who engaged in a race-long battle with Trophy rival Scott – down to third after a slow-getaway.

With his closest challengers engaged in an intense battle of their own, Norris cruised home to win the 25-lap race comfortably by 10.530s.

“Towards the end, I had one little moment going into the final corner, I almost did what Harrison did in the first race, but luckily I managed to keep it on the track and bring it home to win the race,” added Norris.

Barnicoat held off the advances of Scott to claim back-to-back second place finishes and cut his rival’s advantage in the Autumn Trophy standings to just 11 points with two races remaining.

“I think I definitely had the pace to get past Ben so it was frustrating,” explained Scott.

“I kept on trying to get past Ben all race, having a few looks down the inside into various corners, especially Druids, but I couldn’t quite get the exit coming out of the corner to complete the move.”

Sisa Ngebulana and Faisal Al Zubair were the last classified runners, in fourth and fifth respectively.

The Autumn Trophy will conclude with two final races on Sunday.

Image: BRDC Formula 4

Norris wins on BRDC F4 Autumn Trophy debut

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MSA Formula champion Lando Norris claimed victory on his BRDC Formula 4 debut as the second round of the Autumn Trophy kicked off at Brands Hatch.

Norris, who only drove the new Tatuus-Cosworth for the first time on Friday, profited from a crash for points leader Harrison Scott to claim the win.

With the race starting under fine rain, and the field lining up on wets, it was second-placed man Scott who made the best start, jumping poleman Norris for the lead into Paddock Hill Bend, as further back Ben Barnicoat passed Sisa Ngebulana for third.

Scott had built up a two second advantage from the chasing Norris by lap eight, only to spin out at Clearways, backing his Douglas Motorsports-run car into the barriers and handing Norris the lead.

“It was unlucky for Harrison as he dropped a wheel on to the grass and didn’t finish,” said Norris.

“I think he pushed a little bit too hard and made a slight mistake.”

A safety car – deployed to clear Scott’s stranded car – wiped out Norris’ healthy lead over new second-place runner Ngebulana, but the 16-year-old was uncatchable after the restart.

As Barnicoat and Ngebulana engaged in a squabble for second, Norris pulled 13.550s clear of his rivals over the remainder of the 25-lap race to secure a win on his debut.

Barnicoat bounced back from a qualifying crash to beat Ngebulana to claim second, with Fortec’s Faisal Al Zubair the final classified runner in fourth.

With Scott spinning out, Barnicoat now trails his rival by 16 points in the battle for the Autumn Trophy title, with races left to run.

Scott will start the second race of the weekend from pole after posting the fastest lap prior to his accident.

Image: BRDC Formula 4