Matheus Leist snatches Bri­tish F3 ti­tle af­ter Col­lard’s er­ror costs him dear

Motor Sport News - - British Gt Report - Rob Lad­brook

Much like the GTS that head­lined the week­end, the des­ti­na­tion of this year’s BRDC Bri­tish For­mula Three ti­tle hinged on a sin­gle mis­take. As Ricky Col­lard sat in the Redgate gravel trap on Satur­day af­ter­noon he knew he’d al­ready made it.

Brazil­ian Matheus Leist pulled off a su­perb smash and grab job to steal the crown from long-term points leader Col­lard, who sadly en­dured more smash than grab.

It was ironic that it was two on-track col­li­sions with Leist’s Dou­ble R team­mate Enzo Bor­to­leto that ul­ti­mately cost Col­lard the ti­tle. But there was no con­tro­versy around ei­ther of them.

Through all of the chaos, Toby Sow­ery emerged as the star of the week­end to score two wins, but his ti­tle chances were only slim to start with, mean­ing the fi­nal round was very much about two men.

Col­lard’s week­end started badly when he strug­gled to get a time in the soak­ing wet qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion. He could only go fourth fastest, and Leist lined up sec­ond. Still, things looked rosy with Col­lard hold­ing a 15-point lead be­fore rac­ing be­gan. But by lap eight it had gone.

Col­lard out-braked him­self into turn one and dropped back, then he was hit by a slid­ing Enaam Ahmed into the Esses. It left him 14th at the end of the first lap, just as Leist stole the lead from pole man Ben Hin­ge­ley.

Col­lard had work to do, and set about forg­ing his way back up the or­der, un­til he got things wrong chas­ing fifth-placed Bor­to­leto into Redgate. “The con­di­tions were im­prov­ing and I was push­ing like mad, and to get an over­take done you have to tuck in and stay nice and close,” said Col­lard. “I felt Enzo braked early and there was noth­ing I could do. I’m gut­ted.”

Col­lard ploughed into Bor­to­leto, send­ing both into the gravel and out of the race. “I braked in my nor­mal place and Col­lard hit me,” said Bor­to­leto.

With Col­lard out, and Leist se­cur­ing the win from Har­ri­son Scott and Hin­ge­ley, it sig­nalled a 35-point swing, put­ting Leist 20 ahead.

“I can’t be­lieve it, we got so lucky,” said Leist. “The race was even red flagged just af­ter I had a mo­ment at the chi­cane and lost the lead to Har­ri­son. Per­haps this is our week­end.”

He was right, as Col­lard was pinged with a five-place grid penalty for race two, mean­ing he started last. “I feel it’s pretty harsh, but I have to deal with it, said Col­lard. “There’s still a chance to­mor­row so I’m not giv­ing up.”

But more drama was to come in race two. Col­lard again came to­gether with Bor­to­leto into the Mel­bourne hair­pin. Col­lard ran up the in­side of the Brazil­ian, who turned in. They clashed wheels and Bor­to­leto flipped.

No ac­tion was taken, but Col­lard was con­signed to 10th place with bent sus­pen­sion af­ter the clash.

Sow­ery ran away to win ahead of Eu­gene Denyssen, Thomas Maxwell and Scott, as Leist took more points for fifth place.

It meant Col­lard trailed by 25 points with just the fi­nal race to go. He needed a mir­a­cle, but it never came.

As Sow­ery again dom­i­nated to win from pole ahead of Ahmed and Thomas Ran­dle, Leist ran a solid fifth, a place ahead of Col­lard. All Col­lard could do was stare at the Brazil­ian’s gear­box for 13 laps as his ti­tle hopes faded.

“This is so spe­cial,” said Leist. “To win the Bri­tish F3 ti­tle, and fol­low in the foot­steps of great Brazil­ians like Ayr­ton Senna and Rubens Bar­richello is amaz­ing. Plus to win the ti­tle here, where Senna did that amaz­ing lap. I watched that lap so many times be­fore the week­end. I’m so proud to be cham­pion here.”

Leist led Col­lard home in race three

Col­lard trudges away af­ter race one clash with Bor­to­leto (in­set), that ul­ti­mately cost him the F3 crown

John­ston/adam (left) took GT3, Johnson/robin­son topped GT4

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