Ayrton Simmons was in sensational form as he took a victory and a second-place finish for Chris Dittmann Racing in BRDC British F3 at Spa Francorchamps this weekend (20-21 July).
After mixed fortunes at Donington, the British driver was back to his very best at the Belgium circuit, delivering a dominant second win of the campaign in the final race.
A second-place finish in the first race on top of a double pole in qualifying, saw the Epping racer close the gap at the top of the standings and put the pressure back on his title rivals.
Principal Chris Dittmann said: “Ayrton was superb this weekend and everything came together for him when it counted.
“A difficult last practice session left him almost a second off, but the team did a fantastic job to turn it around for qualifying and give Ayrton a car good enough for double pole.
“It was always going to be tough leading from the front with other drivers able to get in his tow at Spa, so we were very happy with his second-place finish in the first race.
“But he was excellent in the last race. His opening laps were superb as he managed to create a three-second gap and break the tow behind. He kept his concentration to take a brilliant win in the end.
“While it was a difficult few days for Nazim, it was Ayrton’s best weekend for us and in the Championship, so we are delighted that all our hard work is paying off.”
Practice saw the Chris Dittmann Racing drivers – Ayrton Simmons and Nazim Azman – take to a wet track to start with that dried out as the sun came out.
After a tough last session, Ayrton was aiming for a Top 5 in qualifying, but the young driver was flying when he got behind the wheel. He took the fastest time with around five minutes remaining, improving again late on to take a superb double pole – his eventual fastest time a tenth clear of his nearest rival.
After fighting well at Donington, Nazim struggled to put in the same performances at Spa, finishing in P17.
Ayrton got off to a good start in the first race to establish a gap over his rivals, leading by almost a second by the end of the first lap. However, Carlin driver Kaylen Frederick soon caught him up in the tow and the pair were engaged in an exciting battle for most of the race, swapping positions several times, with both just a couple of tenths off each other.
Unfortunately, Ayrton couldn’t get close enough to challenge again after he was overtaken with two laps to go, but was still delighted with a P2 and a good points haul.
Meanwhile, Nazim took a risk-free approach, finishing P16 to give himself a good starting position on the reverse grid race next day.
With the reverse grid meaning Nazim would start in P3, it was his chance to fight for a podium. He lost a place off the line and was soon down to P7 after a tough first couple of corners. A safety car on Lap 2 soon slowed-down proceedings, with Nazim locking up on the restart losing him further positions.
Ayrton had a clean race, making up a few positions on the first lap. But he struggled to get tyre temperature after the safety car period, finishing in P15, with Nazim one behind in P16.
Ayrton saved his best for last – there was no stopping him in the final race. Another fine start saw him pull a gap of over a second after the first lap, extending this to around three seconds by Lap 4.
The gap ensured following drivers couldn’t gain the tow that had proved so important during the weekend and he stayed in front to take the win comfortably in the end by almost two seconds.
Nazim was unfortunate to suffer some wing damage early on, finishing in P14 at the end. But Ayrton’s excellence saw him move closer to his title rivals in the overall standings, leaving him just 18 points off second place.
Chris added: “This was a brilliant weekend for Ayrton, if we can have another few of those the title race will be really interesting going into the last weekend.
“Anything can still happen, so he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and focus on each race as it comes to put the pressure on those above.
“It was a difficult weekend for Nazim, but I’m sure he’ll bounce back next time out at Brands Hatch.”