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Simmons holds off Bearman to claim victory in F3 season opener

Saturday, May 22 2021

Chris Dittmann Racing's Ayrton Simmons stormed to a first win of the year in the opening BRDC British F3 Championship race of the season on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit this afternoon (Saturday).

The British driver led from pole position and held off Fortec debutant Ollie Bearman by 1.2 seconds at the flag, while Carlin's Zak O'Sullivan claimed third, less than half a second further behind.

The trio finished over five seconds clear of Hitech GP's Bart Horsten, with the Australian finishing fourth and three seconds clear of Japanese teammate Reece Ushijima. 

Frederick Lubin was sixth for newcomers Arden Motorsport ahead of teammate Alex Connor, while Carlin's Christian Mansell was the victor of a thrilling wheel to wheel scrap with Alex Fores, with the pair going side by side through Graham Hill Bend, Surtees and down Pilgrim's Drop. 

Mansell finished in eighth and ahead of Ginetta Junior Champion Tom Lebbon who was just a second behind for debutants Elite Motorsport. Carlin's Bryce Aron completed the top-10.

Simmons led the field away cleanly at the start, and built a lead of over a second at the end of the opening tour, as Bearman and O'Sullivan followed suit. Meanwhile, a tricky opening lap for Roberto Faria dropped him from fourth to 13th at the end of the opening tour. 

Bearman in his first UK racing appearance closed the gap to seven tenths of a second by lap three, but that was as close as he was able to get to Simmons, who claimed his sixth victory in the championship and third at Brands Hatch to claim the early championship lead.

Fortec's Bearman had to spend much of the race looking in his mirrors, as O'Sullivan swarmed behind him for the entire race, with the trio always well clear of the chasing pack. 

Drama in the latter stages of the race focused on Fores, with the F3 Cup graduate running in eighth place and resiliently holding off the attentions of Mansell until their thrilling battle on the penultimate lap, during which Mansell finally forced his way past, with Lebbon capitalising also. 

Fores then went into combat with a recovering Faria, but the pair collided at Surtees on the final lap and retired from the race. Fores was deemed to be at fault in the incident and has been handed a five place grid penalty for race two by the Clerk of the Course.

Sebastian Alvarez claimed 11th for Hitech on his racing comeback, six tenths of a second clear of Elite's Javier Sagrera, while Dexter Patterson (Douglas) and Max Marzorati (Chris Dittmann Racing) were engaged in a race long scrap for 13th and 14th. 

Saudi Arabia's first female racer Reema Juffali kept her nose clean on the way to 15th, with Fortec's Mikkel Grundtvig the final finisher in 16th, just two tenths of a second further back. 

The second race of the weekend is due to start at 11.10 tomorrow morning, with Simmons again starting on pole. 

BRDC British F3 Championship, Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, race one provisional result:

1. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, 12 laps
2. Oliver Bearman, Fortec Motorsports, +1.207s
3. Zak O'Sullivan, Carlin, +1.644s
4. Bart Horsten, Hitech GP, +6.872s
5. Reece Ushijima, Hitech GP, +10.579s
6. Frederick Lubin, Arden Motorsport, +11.388s
7. Alex Connor, Arden Motorsport, +14.997s
8. Christian Mansell, Carlin, +23.346s
9. Tom Lebbon, Elite Motorsport, +24.437s
10. Bryce Aron, Carlin, 27.274s
11. Sebastian Alvarez, Hitech GP, +27.868s
12. Javier Sagrera, Elite Motorsport, +28.401s
13. Dexter Patterson, Douglas Motorsport, +30.337s
14. Max Marzorati, Chris Dittmann Racing, +30.865s
15. Reema Juffali, Douglas Motorsport, +42.101s
16. Mikkel Grundtvig, Fortec Motorsports, +42.355s
DNF. Alex Fores, Chris Dittmann Racing, 11 laps
DNF. Roberto Faria, Fortec Motorsports, 11 laps
DNF. Jose Garfias, Elite Motorsport, 1 lap