Leist and Sowery score big as Collard struggles in difficult wet weekend
Matheus Leist and Toby Sowery shared the wins on a disrupted BRDC British Formula 3 weekend, as championship leader Ricky Collard had two days to forget in Northamptonshire.
Brazilian Leist notched his third win of the year at the second attempt of race one. Leist lost out to Australian Thomas Randle in the fight for pole as Randle banged in a time just 0.034s quicker on the final lap of the session.
“We’ve found a great, simple set-up with the car and I’ve got great confidence in it and know this track well,” said Randle. “All that’s left to do now is get the thing off the line.”
He nailed it the first time to lead into Copse but the race was quickly halted when Enzo Bortoleto stalled on the grid and was rear-ended by the unsighted Krishnaraaj Mahadik. Bortoleto was helped from his stricken car and taken to hospital for tests, but was given the all-clear for Sunday.
After the debris was cleared the race was restarted, and this time Randle fluffed it, getting too much wheelspin and opening the door for Leist to dive into the lead off the line. Lando Norris also got a good start, and demoted Randle to third at Brooklands.
Norris then got the hammer down in order to try and catch runaway leader Liest, and he was succeeding too until he went too deep into Becketts, thumped the kerb and finished his race in the barrier. “I found the limit, then went past it, silly mistake,” rued Norris. “Once I hit the kerb it lifted the front and I couldn’t do anything.”
That handed Randle back second, with Tarun Reddy inheriting third and Collard fourth, having started fifth after a muted qualifying.
Collard was determined to make progress early in the reversed grid race two. Starting from fifth on the soaked track he got the now customary Collard start to vault into second and ran side-by-side with poleman Jan Jonck into Stowe, before over-cooking it and skating off. Sowery, who had struggled to seventh in the dry, snuck through to lead at Vale. His set-up worked much better in the wet, and he streaked clear to a dominant win as all eyes focused on Norris.
Starting back in 17th after his race one off, Norris produced a stunning display of overtaking to annex second, which included a daring pass around the outside of both Leist and Sisa Ngebulana into Abbey. Sowery almost had his lead eroded when the recovering Collard was dive-bombed by Quinlan Lall and punted into the gravel at Woodcote. But with conditions worsening the resulting safety car stayed out until the end of the race.
“When I saw the safety car I just though ‘oh s**t, just my luck’ as Lando was on it,” said Sowery. “The car felt great in the wet, but we’ve struggled for pace in the dry. It’s a shame it’s not a full-points win, but it’s a start and hopefully a return to form.”
Race three was a casualty of the weather, with heavy rain and thunderstorms making the track undriveable and led to the early abandonment of the meeting. The net result means Collard’s comfortable points lead after his double win last time out at Oulton Park has been slashed, with both Leist and Randle now within striking distance.