Leist and Sow­ery score big as Col­lard strug­gles in dif­fi­cult wet week­end

Motor Sport News - - British Gt Report -

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.

Leader Ricky Col­lard’s cham­pi­onship bid was rocked by this ac­ci­dent in race two with Quin­lan Lall

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