Chris Dittmann Racing opened their BRDC British F3 Championship campaign with a solid haul of points on a hard-fought weekend at Oulton Park, Cheshire.
Fresh off the back of their most successful campaign in Britain’s premier single-seater series to date, the Tewkesbury-based team made the journey to the 2.8-mile International circuit with a new-look line up of Josh Skelton and Nico Varrone, and buoyed by a positive run in pre-season testing.
Skelton led the team’s charge in qualifying, setting the tenth quickest time (1:31.904), with Varrone just behind in 13th. An extra half a second would have put either driver on pole position, highlighting the strength in depth of the British F3 field in 2020.
Both drivers made good forward progress in the season curtain-raiser, taking P4 (Skelton) and P10 (Varrone) in a safety-car interrupted contest to start the year inside the top ten.
That result would be almost reversed in the second race, with Varrone rounding out the top five, but the Argentine hit bad luck in the penultimate encounter.
Contact with another driver at Knickerbrook pitched Varrone into the gravel, and out of the running. Skelton, meanwhile, emerged unscathed on a run through to eighth place.
And the British Formula 4 graduate would make it a clean sweep of top 10s in the finale, this time seizing a solid sixth, with Varrone an unfortunate retirement once again.
The net result of all four races puts Skelton in joint fifth in the Drivers’ standings, denied fifth only by virtue of Piers Prior’s race victory, whilst Varrone sits 15th but eager to bounce back at Donington Park on 15-16 August, 2020.
Chris Dittmann, Team Principal said:
“It’s been a promising start to the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship for the team.
“Josh’s performance has been very impressive; not only was it his debut weekend, but after qualifying he had a difficult set of races ahead, and rose to meet that challenge well. We’re very pleased with how he’s translated his pace in pre-season into the opening four races.
“Likewise for Nico. He’s shown he has the pace and race craft this weekend, the luck just went against him. It’s how it goes sometimes, but we’ve no doubt he’ll be back in fighting form at Donington Park in a fortnight.
“Thanks as always to the entire team for their tireless effort and hard work – we’re back!”
Nico Varrone (#25) said:
“It’s not been an ideal weekend, for a few different reasons. We managed to get two top-ten finishes from the opening two races, but we were unlucky after that.
“Being taken out in Race 3 put us at the back for Race 4 based on average lap times, and from there it was difficult to recover.
“However, we’ll go away and work hard before Donington to understand where we need to improve and we’ll come back out fighting.”
Josh Skelton (#43) said:
“It’s been a very positive weekend for me, and a good way to start the delayed season.
“After a very close qualifying session, we were P10, which was always going to be a tricky place to race from. I stayed positive and kept my head high into the races and couldn’t wait to get underway.
“After making good starts and some great moves, I managed to move forward in every race from where I started. To come away with the results we have is great and I think we made the most of the situation after qualifying.
“To come away tied for fifth in the standings is a promising start. We worked well as a team all week, a big thanks to the CDR boys for all their hard work – now we move on to the next one!”