CDR make a flying start to British F3 iRacing Championship at Oulton Park

  • Tewkesbury-based team hit the front in both championships after thrilling season-opener at Oulton Park.
  • Nico Varrone leads Drivers’ standings after commanding lights-to-flag victory, with Kieran Vernon and Josh Skelton close behind after podiums and consistent points respectively.
  • Season resumes next Sunday (24 May) at the iconic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Chris Dittmann Racing made a stellar start to the British F3 iRacing Championship at Oulton Park, with victory in the season opener for Nico Varrone and consistent points across the board propelling them to the top of both championships.

With real-world motorsport still suspended amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual season provides CDR’s British F3 drivers Josh Skelton and Varrone, along with former competitor and current driver coach Kieran Vernon, with an opportunity to pit themselves against drivers past and present from the UK’s premier single-seater championship.

Varrone set the tone for a fantastic evening with pole position around the 2.7-mile International circuit, his best time of 1:26.652 enough to secure him top spot by 0.2 seconds.

From the start, the Argentine put in a faultless drive to maintain the lead, with Vernon charging up from the fourth row of the grid to move into the final podium spot in third.

Varrone went largely unchallenged as he streaked away to open the campaign with victory by 1.2 seconds over Johnathan Hoggard; with little to gain in front and a decent margin behind, Vernon settled for the final spot on the rostrum in third.

Opening lap dramas had pushed Skelton down the order, but he showed great tenacity to battle his way back through the field to take the chequered flag in 14th, scoring valuable points towards the Teams standings.

The championship’s reverse-grid format for the final race of the weekend left CDR’s challengers with it all to do; Varrone would start last in 27th, with Vernon (25th) and Skelton (14th) just ahead.

Once again, Skelton would get caught up in the opening lap dramas, this time being forced into avoiding action down at Shell Oils Corner, and this time Vernon was an unfortunate casualty too.

Varrone, meanwhile, excelled, cutting through the pack to gain 24 places in the opening six laps to run third behind Louis Foster and Carter Williams, with Enaam Ahmed close behind.

Backmarkers halted his progress, and gave Ahmed the opportunity to take third place away at Lodge, but regardless Varrone took an impressive fourth from the back to cement his championship aspirations.

He leads the Drivers’ standings by 12 points heading to the next event at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on 24 May, with CDR similarly heading up the Teams’ points by 25 markers.

To re-watch the action from Oulton Park, click here.

 

Quotes

Chris Dittmann, Team Principal:

“It was a fantastic start to our British F3 iRacing Championship. Nico drove superbly and thoroughly deserved his lights-to-flag win in Race 1.

“He was unfortunate not to take a second podium in Race 2, and without some questionable driving by a number of back-markers, he would have surely challenged for another win.

“All three drivers showed great pace in such competitive and eventful circumstances. Josh and Kieran were unfortunate to get caught up in other driver’s incidents at times, but recovered strongly.

“We’re looking forward to building on this momentum for the next round at Spa on Sunday.”

 

Nico Varrone:

“It was a good first race overall, I managed to take pole position and the race win. The reverse grid was difficult because of all the incidents, a lot of people were crashing and blocking on purpose, so I hope that will change for the next race.

“I managed to finish fourth and be on top of the standings. I’m happy about that but we will have to be stronger at Spa.”

 

Josh Skelton:

“It was great fun on Monday night racing against everyone. I was a bit unfortunate on the opening laps of both races, getting caught up in incidents meant I had to pit for repairs.

“But I’m fairly happy with my recoveries, I still managed to get a few points on the board heading to Spa next weekend.”

 

Kieran Vernon:

“Aside from coming third in the opening race and contributing to having two Chris Dittmann Racing cars on the podium in the first ever British F3 iRacing Championship event, it was immensely satisfying to get back into any kind of competition.

“To go up against the world’s best Formula 3 drivers past and present, and in the same car and setup made the podium result even sweeter.

“I can’t think of any platform in real life where we have the quality of drivers, all with exactly the same equipment.

“Attention now turns to Spa-Francorchamps, where will fight for the same results, or better. A big thanks to CDR and the British F3 Championship for having me in the series.”

About the author: Damian Meaden