02 Oct Ben Hingeley withstands Ahmed pressure at Donington to take fourth win of the year
Fortec ace Ben Hingeley held off constant pressure from champion Enaam Ahmed to secure victory in the first BRDC British F3 race of the season finale weekend at Donington Park.
The British driver converted pole position to victory, though he had to fend off the attentions of Ahmed on the run down to Redgate on the first lap, and then held him off for the entirety of the 12 lap contest, with the gap between the pair never bigger than 0.8 seconds.
Hingeley claimed pole position in a frantic qualifying session this morning (Saturday 23 September), holding top spot several times before putting in a 1m25.108s effort with five minutes remaining. Ahmed was second quickest, just 0.044s slower than Hingeley, having opted to put in most of his qualifying laps in the second half of the session.
Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing’s Chase Owen was an impressive third fastest, and had looked on course to improve further until the session was brought to a slightly premature halt.
Fellow American Das was fourth for Carlin, just 0.017s behind Owen and 0.026s ahead of Douglas Motorsport’s Callan O’Keeffe. Jordan Cane was sixth fastest and brought out the red flags at the end of the session with a spin into the gravel at Coppice.
Newcomer Alex Quinn claimed seventh for Lanan Racing, just 0.513s off pole in his first competitive BRDC British F3 session. Pull, aiming to secure second place in the standings this weekend could only manage eighth ahead of Jamie Chadwick, with Manuel Maldonado completing the top-10.
Nicola Kjaergaard was an early high-flyer and was 11th fastest ahead of F3 debutant Pavan Ravishankar, while Jermey Wahome, fresh from an overnight flight from his native Kenya was 13th. Guilherme Samaia completed the order and brought out the red flag with 10 minutes of the session elapsed after a spin at Coppice, which ruled him out of the remainder of the session.
The 30 minute session proved a frantic one, with several drivers enjoying spells at the top, including Samaia, Chadwick, Quinn, Ahmed and Owen before Hingeley stamped his authority on the session with a time faster than last year’s race lap record.
Hingeley converted pole to victory in the first race of the weekend, holding off champion Ahmed on the run down to Redgate on the first lap, and then withstood the pressure throughout the race to claim his fourth win of the year.
Ahmed settled for second after showing Hingeley constant attention, with Cameron Das completing the podium finishers. James Pull climbed from eighth on the grid to claim fourth place and moved into second in the championship standings as a result.
Jordan Cane claimed fifth, with Chase Owen sixth. Callan O’Keeffe, Nicolai Kjaergaard, Jamie Chadwick and debutant Alex Quinn completed the top-10.
Hingeley maintained his pole position advantage at the start, but Ahmed made a slightly better get away and was able to draw alongside on the run down to Redgate. Trying a move around the outside, Ahmed was elbowed out as Hingeley held the lead down the Craner Curves.
Further back, there were fast starts for the Carlin duo of Das and Pull. Das jumped past Owen into third place, while a charging Pull surged from eighth on the grid to be in fourth by the end of the opening tour. Owen starting third had fallen to sixth in the early stages with Jordan Cane climbing a place into fifth.
At the front the gap between Hingeley and Ahmed hovered around the half a second mark throughout, falling as low as 0.4 seconds and rising only to 0.8 seconds as the pair consistently lapped closely. Ahmed constantly had Hingeley under pressure, with the pair almost nose to tail entering Goddards hairpin on the final lap, with the Fortec driver just hanging on to add victory to those already secured at Rockingham, Silverstone and Spa, and climbing to fourth in the standings as a result.
Das in third wasn’t quite able to join the scrap for the top-two, but still claimed his seventh podium of the season, just over a second ahead of team mate Pull.
Cane in fifth was a second further back, ahead of Owen, who was hopeful of a maiden podium ahead of the race, but does have the consolation of setting the fastest lap of the race which may aid his quest for race three pole position.
O’Keeffe dropped two places from his starting position to finish seventh, ahead of Kjaergaard who made up three places on his grid position with eighth and secured pole for race two tomorrow morning, with Jamie Chadwick holding ninth throughout the encounter.
Debutant Quinn was the benefactor of an entertaining scrap for the final place in the top-10, passing Manuel Maldonado on lap eight to claim tenth in his first race.
The top-three drivers on the podium were presented with their trophies by BRDC Member Joe Osbourne. Hingeley was also presented with the Muriel Tomlinson Trophy by the Donington Park Racing Association Club.
Speaking afterwards, Hingeley commented: “It’s great to get another win. I felt really good through the first sector, I felt like I pulled away a little bit, but in the middle sector he (Ahmed) was always putting me under a lot of pressure. It basically yo-yoed throughout the lap each time and it was a lot of pressure throughout the whole race.”
“On the last lap he closed up a lot and I didn’t get as good an exit from turn one as I had for the rest of the race, and he got a little bit closer. Then in the middle sector he was right with me and put me under a lot of pressure through the last sector and luckily the chequered flag was there and it was a great race. Thanks to the Fortec lads, it was a great job by them, qualifying was mega and we will work hard to get another two wins tomorrow!”