Douglas Motorsport have continued their BRDC British F3 Championship title challenge with a third win of the season and a strong haul of points in a wet outing at Snetterton this past weekend (03/04 October).
The team headed to Norfolk with Ulysse De Pauw and Manaf Hijjawi both on a strong run of form with podium finishes at the previous meeting at Donington Park. The former went on to add his seventh of the season in the second of four British F3 races at Snetterton’s 300 circuit, before claiming a fine victory in the final outing of the weekend.
The action around the 2.99-mile circuit was affected by rain across both days, including Thursday’s test session prior to the weekend in which the pair clocked up plenty of miles and data ahead of qualifying on Saturday morning.
Hijjawi and De Pauw both sat inside the top five for much of the 20-minute qualifying session, which was blighted late on by a timing glitch that resulted in a chequered flag being displayed earlier than planned. Hijjawi still secured fifth on the grid while having qualified third and fifth, De Pauw was frustratingly put back to ninth and sixth.
In the damp opening race later that afternoon, a determined De Pauw showed his intent to put right the wrongs of the previous session, and charged up to seventh place early on before making a brace of impressive moves around both Josh Skelton and Hijjawi to move into fifth place. Both chased the podium battle ahead, before finishing a solid fifth and sixth respectively.
The reverse grid for race two put De Pauw back to ninth once again, but the Belgian put in a spirited charge on a drying track to carve through the pack once again. Making up several spots on the opening lap, he soon turned his attentions to team-mate Hijjawi, moving ahead and then swiftly disposing of Alex Fores and Piers Prior with some bold overtaking moves to move up into the podium places.
A mistake at Nelsons corner by Skelton late on under pressure allowed De Pauw by to chase after the race leader, setting the fastest lap on the way to a fine second place. A fast-starting Hijjawi again battled among the lead group and improved from eighth on the grid, the Jordanian showing his defensive skills by hanging onto seventh place.
Race three was a far wetter affair on Sunday morning, with Hijjawi running fourth throughout and narrowly missing out on a podium finish by less than a second. De Pauw followed his team-mate home in fifth place in a race that saw problems for the championship leader, enabling the Belgian to trim further into the series lead.
A front row start for De Pauw in the final race gave him further opportunity to close the gap, and he pounced on a wide moment for pole-sitter Louis Foster on lap one to grab a lead he would never lose to add to his victory at Donington Park in August. Hijjawi was unfortunately tipped into a spin at the Wilson hairpin on lap one of the race and finished 16th on an otherwise strong weekend for the British F3 rookie.
The win moves De Pauw up to fourth in the title race with two meetings remaining, now sitting within 32 points of the championship lead as the BRDC British F3 Championship returns to Donington Park on 24/25 October.
“A big weekend for us in the end and it could not have ended much better! We’re closing in on the series leaders all of a sudden so it’s been very productive.
“Ulysse has once again been brilliant all weekend and got the reward of his second win of the season. It could have been more too had he not suffered from the timing issue in qualifying. He’s shown his talents with some superb overtaking in tricky conditions.
“Manaf is going from strength to strength it seems meanwhile. He was close to another podium with fourth and he had potential for another top six finish before unfortunately being spun. It’s been a hugely positive weekend though and he now looks a consistent threat with three fine efforts.
“We’ll head back to Donington with plenty to chase for and data to help us. We have won there and taken a handful of podiums, so there’s no reason why we can’t continue this momentum.”
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.