Douglas Motorsport came away with a fantastic podium finish for rookie Dexter Patterson in a topsy-turvy opening round of the 2021 BRDC British F3 Championship season at Brands Hatch.
The experienced Corby-based team kicked off their new season with a pair of new faces behind the wheel, as Saudi Arabia’s Reema Juffali and Scotsman Patterson headed the Douglas charge as they aimed to build on a fantastic 2020 season.
Wet weather plagued much of the pre-season testing at the Kent circuit, and it returned on Friday to allow the inexperienced young duo to gain vital knowledge of the changeable conditions around the world-famous Grand Prix layout in Kent.
Come the crucial 20-minute qualifying session later on Saturday morning, Patterson took the lead with a solid string of lap times to challenge for a spot in the top 10 on his debut. A tight session saw him just over a second from the front row, qualifying 14th for the first two races of the weekend. Juffali’s pace improved in the dry, taking 19th spot.
In the weekend’s opening race, both drivers remained out of trouble on a hectic opening lap to come home in improved positions. Juffali held off the attentions of fellow rookie Mikkel Grundtvig with a great defensive drive for 15th, with Patterson right in the thick of a multi-car dice which he emerged from in 13th.
Race two the following day brought new opportunities for both drivers, and Patterson showed his intent by again chasing a pack of cars at the fringe of the top 10. He closed up to the tail of practice pace-setter Christian Mansell, but in the dirty air was unable to make a lunge for that maiden top 10 finish. Juffali added more experience to her books, gaining places to grab 16th ahead of a big opportunity later in the afternoon.
That opportunity was pole position for the final reversed grid contest, with Patterson starting not much further back in sixth on the grid. The race was therefore a great chance for the rookies to challenge themselves at the head of the field.
Pole-sitter Juffali was unfortunate to be squeezed out on the start but held onto second spot before the safety car emerged for an incident behind. The Saudi Arabian driver held her own in a squabble up front on the restart, before being collected at Stirling Bend which ended her race on the spot.
Patterson meanwhile charged up into third spot through the carnage, and soon locked onto the back of the lead duo as his confidence grew. With a podium in his sights, he duly delivered and grabbed third place to cap off his debut weekend with Douglas Motorsport in style.
“A fantastic finish to the day for us and a very well done to Dexter for coming away with a podium already in his first weekend. It’s a tough series to come into with little experience but he grew in confidence and showed it in the last race. Similarly, Reema did well to come home with points and some valuable experience on her debut. She will only improve with track time.”
“It’s been quite difficult getting to grips with the GP circuit, with only one session in the wet before qualifying it was tough but we made steps over the weekend. Qualifying set us back and it’s hard to pass, but we made good progress and then started sixth in the reverse grid race, made it up to third and hung on until the end.”
“Honestly I have learned a lot this weekend and there’s a lot to take away from it. It was not the way I wanted the weekend to end but I did put my elbows out in the last race. We’ll come away with knowledge and look towards the next one knowing we have positives to take away from it. I think I need some more experience in the wet which will come with time, and I can chip away. I’m enjoying it and I’ll take it as it comes.”
Douglas Motorsport next head to Silverstone next month (26/27 June) hoping to add more silverware to the collection.
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.