Re­turn­ing Nor­ris stars, but Col­lard steals mo­men­tum with maiden vic­tory

Motor Sport News - - British Gt Report - Rob Lad­brook Photos: Jakob Ebrey

It’s a shame that Lando Nor­ris is essen­tially a part-timer in this year’s BRDC Bri­tish For­mula 3 Cham­pi­onship.

A win and two podium fin­ishes at Rock­ing­ham proved his cham­pi­onship cre­den­tials, but Nor­ris’s loss is Ricky Col­lard’s gain as he snatched the cham­pi­onship lead with a maiden vic­tory and an im­pres­sive over­all week­end.

Hav­ing skipped the sec­ond round of the sea­son at Brands Hatch to fo­cus on his Euro­pean For­mula Re­nault cam­paign, Nor­ris didn’t take long to get back into the flow with his Car­lin­run Tatuus-cos­worth, slot­ting onto pole for race one ahead of Col­lard and Matheus Leist. Qual­i­fy­ing proved to be the start of a down­ward spi­ral for erst­while points leader Toby Sow­ery. The Lanan racer strug­gled for set-up all week­end and com­plained of in­sta­bil­ity at the rear on down­shifts. Sow­ery could only start 13th and had to watch his points lead go up in smoke from then on.

Nor­ris didn’t get away well for the first race, and had to play sec­ond fid­dle to Col­lard for much of the out­ing, un­til the fight came to a head in the clos­ing laps. Col­lard ran wide at Chap­man, open­ing the door for Nor­ris, who slot­ted along­side. The pair ran to­gether around Pif-paf be­fore Nor­ris snatched the lead with a dar­ing move as he dipped two wheels onto the grass. Leist took third as Sow­ery slumped to 14th af­ter stalling at the start.

Nor­ris started the re­versed-grid sec­ond out­ing back in eighth, but soon made his mark. The first at­tempt at the start had to be aban­doned af­ter Enzo Bortoleto was caught up in a vi­o­lent ac­ci­dent at Chap­man ( see Rac­ing News). That was bad news for Enaam Ahmed, who had worked into the lead from third on the grid.

When the cars lined up on the re­formed grid, Ahmed again got away well, but lost his front wing when pole­man Tarun Reddy moved across to de­fend.

With Ahmed out of the way, Thomas Ran­dle hit the front and de­fended through­out from Ameya Vaidyanathan to score his first win. But the most ac­tion was be­hind. Nor­ris com­pleted the first lap in sixth, but had fit­ted four new tyres and ben­e­fited from ex­tra grip. He picked his passes per­fectly to slide into third and set the fastest lap of the race to snatch pole for the fi­nal out­ing. Col­lard was sev­enth af­ter be­ing mired in traf­fic and Sow­ery eighth.

Nor­ris and Leist shared the front row for the fi­nal out­ing, with Col­lard im­me­di­ately be­hind. But when Nor­ris bogged down at the start, both cars were past him be­fore Turn 1, with Col­lard the quicker off the line.

Col­lard was dom­i­nant once out front, and con­trolled the race to claim his first win of the sea­son ahead of Leist and Nor­ris.

The re­sults hand Col­lard a 22-point lead over Sow­ery, who capped his week­end with a fight­ing sixth.

“It feels great to be a Bri­tish F3 race win­ner, I dreamt about that as a kid,” said Col­lard. “It’s still early doors in the cham­pi­onship so I’ve got to get my head down and fo­cus.”

Nor­ris added: “My starts haven’t been great this week­end and it was weird adapt­ing back to this car af­ter the For­mula Re­nault. But I can leave happy enough.”

BRDC F3 Col­lard (l) and Nor­ris Col­lard took a race three vic­tory

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