Ayrton Simmons secured third place in the BRDC British F3 Championship for Chris Dittmann Racing after a thrilling finale at Donington this weekend (14-15 September).
With the title showdown going down to the wire and four racers in the mix, the Epping driver kept his nerve to take the points needed to cap a memorable season for himself and the team.
A stunning second one-two of the season in the second race saw the Tewkesbury-based outfit sign-off in style, with no other team managing even one in 2019. Nazim Azman took his second victory in the Championship with Ayrton finishing second in the race.
But it was Ayrton’s Championship form and finish that gave the team real cause for celebration after a long and well-fought battle.
Team principal Chris Dittmann said: “We are absolutely thrilled for Ayrton, he’s had a brilliant season and to finish third in such a competitive field shows just how hard he has worked.
“With a couple of other results going our way, we would have been looking at the title, that’s how close it was.
“He can be very proud of all he has achieved this year – especially as it’s his first full season with us and in the Championship. When he first joined the team for one-off races last year his raw speed was unquestionable. However, we have pushed him hard over the course of this season and he has matured massively as a driver. There is no question he has a great future ahead of him and we’re all proud to be part of his development and subsequent success.
“But as with all our success, it’s a team effort and we couldn’t do it without all the support and work that goes on in the background.
“The second one-two in the second race was the icing on the cake for us and we are delighted for Nazim and everyone involved with the team.”
Ayrton secured a thrilling third win of the season at Silverstone last time out. It left four drivers jostling for positions going into the final weekend at Donington, with Ayrton needing a huge haul of points, combined with the leaders dropping a considerable amount, for the title. While the team knew the title was still on, second, third and fourth place were the more likely finishing positions.
Testing went well until Nazim’s engine gave up near to the end of the last session. The team did a great job working late into the night to replace it and be ready for qualifying. Qualifying was a close affair at the top, with Ayrton finishing in P4. Nazim struggled to build up pace and finished P14.
Ayrton got off to a great start in the first race, battling for second immediately. Unfortunately, he was hit from behind by Ulysse De Pauw, forcing him off the track and re-joining at the back of the field. De Pauw would later be handed a penalty for the contact.
But Ayrton was determined to stay in the title race, gaining two places on lap one, another two on the next lap and moving into the Top 10 by lap seven with some brilliant overtakes.
He eventually finished in P8 – a great comeback. While it left the title mathematically impossible, all else was still to play for. Nazim, meanwhile, had a tough race, finishing P14.
After the disappointment of missing out on a podium, the atmosphere in the CDR camp would soon change thanks to a brilliant second race for the team that saw both drivers put in excellent performances.
Nazim made the perfect start, moving from P2 into the lead by turn one, with Ayrton moving up to P4 from his P7 starting position and into P3 on lap two. He moved up into second a lap later.
The talented driver then began to close the gap on his teammate – and by lap eight he was wheel-to-wheel, having brought the two-second gap expertly down to next to nothing.
Ayrton then tried a move at the Melbourne Hairpin, only for Nazim to battle back on the approach to Goddards, determined to take his second win.
The pair crossed the line at the same time a lap later, with both battling hard and giving their all – but also giving the drivers behind the chance to start catching up.
However, nothing was going to stop them from taking the top spots, with Nazim holding on for an excellent win – his second of the year – and Ayrton just 0.432s behind at the end.
Starting in P4, Ayrton sensed another podium opportunity, but after being pushed wide early-on by Ulysse De Pauw again, he dropped to P11.
The young driver slowly made his way back into the race, making some nice overtakes, but could only finish P8 in the end.
However, there were jubilant scenes from the CDR team at the end of the race as his third place in the Championship was confirmed.
Nazim finished his season off by moving up three positions to end P11 in the race and 11thin the Championship standings after his two wins.
Ayrton finished the season in third, having taken three wins, five second places and two thirds.
Chris added: “Race Two was like a déjà vu from Brands, with both drivers putting on a brilliant battle.
“It has been the most competitive year since British F3 was relaunched back in 2016, so to finish 3rd was a fantastic team result, however we’ll be pushing for even more next year! We have already started testing potential drivers for 2020 which will continue over the next few months.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t any time to celebrate as we still have the F3 Cup championship to win!”