CDR and Simmons the Saturday stars in BRDC British F3 season opener

Chris Dittmann Racing and Ayrton Simmons were the stars of the first day of the 2021 BRDC British F3 Championship season, with a record-breaking Saturday (22 May) at Brands Hatch.

Racing on the legendary and hugely challenging Grand Prix circuit, Simmons showed his proven class with a perfect performance in qualifying that saw him claim two pole positions and break the BRDC British F3 lap record in the process.

The British driver’s lap time of 1:20.298 was the fastest ever recorded by a current specification British F3 car, and was over a quarter of a second quicker than any other driver in the field. His second best time was also close to lap record pace, and secured him pole position for the second race of the weekend too.

In a repeat performance of last year’s one off appearance, Simmons then blasted off the line in Saturday’s opening race of the season, and was never challenged as he stormed to a lights to flag victory, and secured the fastest lap in the process.

The victory put Simmons at the top of the driver’s championship standings, while solid points banked by Max Marzorati added to the team’s tally, which put them top of the team’s championship as well. The result also ensured that Chris Dittmann Racing has taken British F3 victories at the circuit for three seasons running, a record unrivalled throughout the grid.

Strong pace unfortunately went unrewarded for Alex Fores; the F3 Cup graduate qualified just outside the top-10 for races one and two, and was on course for a solid top-10 finish before a collision with Roberto Faria.

Marzorati meanwhile defied a lack of experience on the full Grand Prix layout to lap impressively and bank excellent points for 14th place, which were crucial in putting CDR on top of the team’s championship after the first day.

Sunday didn’t go quite to plan, with Simmons retiring from pole on the first lap of race two after a collision while leading. A combative drive from Marzorati did though bank more strong points; with the 20-year-old defying logic to gain five places in the race on a circuit that’s renowned for being difficult to overtake on. Fores sadly retired on the formation lap.

Race three promised much, with Marzorati starting on the front row, Fores in ninth and Simmons 19th thanks to the reverse format. Marzorati made a good initial getaway to briefly hold the lead, but an overheated clutch forced him to retire. Simmons though again showed plenty of aggression to climb to 13th place, while Fores was firmly in contention for a top-10 finish again before a collision with Reema Juffali.

Despite a difficult second day, Team Principal Chris Dittmann is only looking at the positives ahead of the next round of the season at Silverstone on 26-27 June:

“It was definitely a weekend of two halves, but we certainly proved a point on Saturday. With Ayrton it’s clear we’ve got the fastest car and driver combination on the grid at the moment, and that definitely showed with a double pole, the quickest ever lap of Brands Hatch in these cars and an unchallenged, dominant win. That performance just confirmed why we’re so excited about the rest of the season.

“Max and Alex were both so unlucky. Alex’s pace was very good and he could easily have had a couple of really strong top-10 results from the weekend. We really hope he manages to continue the season with us as he’s got a lot of potential.

“Max continues to develop at a rapid rate with us and he did everything we asked of him this weekend. He kept his nose clean and banked solid results on a circuit he’s hardly ever driven on. A big result was on the cards in race three, so an overheating clutch was rather unfortunate, but we’re heading to circuits now that he has much more experience on, so that is an exciting prospect for us.

“We were challenged a lot across the weekend, but we managed to get all three cars on track in each race despite a fair bit of damage, so my thanks to everyone in the team for their hard work all weekend.”

Ayrton Simmons said: “Getting a double pole was brilliant and a circuit record is always good to have on your CV. We were two tenths off before the red flag and the boys were really sharp and did an incredible job to fit two new tyres on the left as soon as we came in, and make some fine adjustments. The car came alive, we were so quick through the middle sector and it was special. For me I think that’s the best qualifying lap I’ve ever done.

“In race one we got a good clean start from pole and managed to pull a little bit of a gap. They were within one second range but nothing that was going to make me uncomfortable, so it was nice, controlled, measured and I was very consistent throughout the race, which I was aiming for. Saturday was probably one of the best days I’ve ever had in motorsport to be honest, I was fully on a high.

“Sunday on the other hand wasn’t quite as good but overall I think we showed great pace, which I’m very happy with and I’m very much looking forward to Silverstone, where hopefully we can carry that form over.”

Alex Fores said: “Brands Hatch was all part of the learning curve, a big reminder that motorsport isn’t always plain sailing! We can look back at the pace from testing and Saturdays running and take some big positives from how competitive we were – and with limited running before the weekend we know there was only more to come.

“A big thanks to the team at CDR for having the car prepped perfectly for every session. I couldn’t ask for any more support from the team behind me – including Dave Bromfield, who I owe thanks to for the opportunities I’ve had in motorsport so far.”

Max Marzorati said: “Arriving at the circuit with no previous experience of the GP layout, I always knew it was going to be a tough learning weekend but the CDR team were fantastic in getting me up to speed in effectively one day.

“Qualifying was disappointing as I was wasn’t able to deliver my best lap. Races one and two were solid and added to my learning of the circuit. Knowing I was starting on the front row for race three meant I was keen to make a good start as I felt we certainly held the potential for a podium finish.

“I actually got a great start and led the race for all of 50 metres, however as we were held for a long time on the grid, my clutch lost drive which effectively retired me from the race. But I learnt a lot from the great CDR team and I was really proud to introduce Rich Energy into the British F3 paddock. We’re really looking forward to Silverstone where we are confident of a strong performance!”

Chris Dittmann Racing return to BRDC British F3 action on 26-27 June on the Silverstone GP circuit.

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