Ulysse De Pauw battled the elements at Donington Park last weekend (15/16 August) to grab a sensational maiden BRDC British F3 Championship victory as Douglas Motorsport picked up a second triumph in as many meetings.
The Corby-based team entered the latest trio of races at the Leicestershire circuit buoyed on by a victory for Kiern Jewiss in the season-opening round at Oulton Park two weeks prior.
Entering just eight points off the series lead, it was Jewiss who headed the Douglas charge in Saturday’s 20-minute qualifying session with a quickfire pair of flying laps late on to jump up to sixth overall, becoming fifth after penalties were later applied to a number of rivals. Jordanian Manaf Hijjawi impressed throughout testing and was a mere 0.4s from pole position in 11th, with Ulysse De Pauw 12th.
The three shifted their attentions to race one later that Saturday, a race in which problems for championship leader Kaylen Frederick allowed Jewiss to pounce in the opening laps. The BRDC SuperStar chased the top four hard to take the flag in fifth place, sealing crucial championship points in doing so.
Hijjawi and De Pauw fought hard to make up ground in the opening 12-lapper, the former recovering several spots following a hectic opening lap to finish 13th. De Pauw was forced to pit to replace a damaged front wing sustained in combat, but posted the fastest lap of the only dry race of the weekend on his way to 18th place. That secured him pole position for Sunday’s reverse grid second race.
The Belgian youngster took full advantage of it and charged into a clear lead when the lights went out, pulling out a lead of over seven seconds on the field. Controlling the pace, De Pauw’s wet weather prowess paid off as he held off a chasing Frederick for a richly-deserved maiden British F3 victory.
He could have been joined on the podium by team-mate Hijjawi as the Jordanian superbly picked off several rivals in the opening laps to move up to third, but unfortunately spun into the barriers in the treacherous conditions at Old Hairpin on lap three when in sight of second spot. Having started 14th, Jewiss gained two spots on his way to 12th by the flag.
Race three’s grid was decided by the second best times set in qualifying, putting Jewiss fourth on grid where he formed part of an intense five-car dice for second spot. Cutting back inside Louis Foster for fourth, Jewiss attempted a last-lap pass around the outside Josh Skelton for the final podium position at the chicane, but was forced to bounce across the run-off area and took the flag a fighting fifth.
Hijjawi and De Pauw started in their race one grid positions of 11th and 12th respectively and found themselves similarly in a frenetic scrap for placings, De Pauw rising up to eighth place while Hijjawi finished 15th.
Jewiss sits third in the standings while De Pauw climbs to eighth with his victory, as the British F3 Championship heads to Brands Hatch GP circuit in two weeks’ time (29/30 August).
“It was a very unpredictable weekend, and the weather made it a bit of a lottery at times on Sunday. Ulysse fought back from a difficult Saturday with a fantastic drive from the front in race two, and getting his first win will surely give him a lot of confidence.
“Kiern was a frontrunner all weekend and fought so hard for every point in the final race. Very unlucky not to get a podium in the end, as was Manaf in the second race when he made a couple of great passing moves to get him up to third place at one stage.
“We’ve started strongly and have a lot of experience under our belts at Brands Hatch, so we’ll go there hoping for a good, consistent weekend.”
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.