LIGHTS-TO-FLAG WIN FOR SIMMONS AT OULTON PARK
Ayrton Simmons regained the lead of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost, by winning round 11 of the season at Oulton Park.
The JHR Developments racer pulled off an inch-perfect lights-to-flag victory. It was his third win of 2018 and the first since his emphatic double in the season opener at Brands Hatch.
Simmons was made to work hard for victory. Jack Doohan started alongside him on the front row and looked to steal the lead on the run down to turn one. Simmons kept the Aussie at bay. He then had to contend with the Arden racer in his mirrors for the duration of the race, with Double R Racing’s Kiern Jewiss and Paavo Tonteri also in tow, making it a four-way fight for the lead.
“It’s nice to be back on top,” said Simmons. “I was under a lot of pressure from Doohan and Jewiss and was striggling with the rear of the car, but I managed to bring it home.
“It’s so hot today so you’re always mindful of looking after the car when you can and that was an additional factor in the race.
“Hopefully we’ve made a step forward with the car in terms of pace since qualifying and we can perform well in the final race of the weekend.”
Jewiss wasted no time in making progress up the order from fifth on the grid. A perfectly judged move down the inside of Pasma on the opening lap at Lodge Corner saw him move up to fourth and third soon followed with a lunge down the inside of team-mate Tonteri into Old Hall.
Doohan’s second place finish secured him the Rookie class win. His fifth of the season. Meanwhile, fellow rookie Paavo Tonteri scored second in class and came out on top in the battle of the flying Finn’s with Patrik Pasma. Reversing the result of round 10 yesterday.
“It was a really tough race, but a lot of fun,” said Doohan. “At the start of the race I got a bollard stuck in my nosecone and lost a bit of ground around turn seven, but fortunately the bollard fell off my car on the next lap.
“I was able to start putting in some good lap times and keep Kiern Jewiss at bay. I didn’t quite have the pace to overtake Simmons and you need to have quite a sizeable pace advantage around here to pull off a move because it’s so hard to pass.
“I knew that it if it was tough for me to overtake then it would be tough for Kiern to overtake so I just focused on driving as best I could and making the least amount of mistakes possible.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get the win, but I’m pleased with this second place. The aim was to try to get the lead at the start because I knew if I got into the lead it would be very difficult to pass, just as Ayrton showed in that race.
“We were struggling a bit in the free practice sessions. Ending Friday 1.1 seconds off wasn’t the best feeling going into qualifying and then we ended up seventh.
“We changed a couple of things on the car and finished fifth in race one. Then we worked hard overnight, taking into consideration the data of my team-mate Dennis Hauger who won the race yesterday. That definitely helped us improve for today,
“If I keep on getting these kind of results and staying consistent, hopefully the championship will take care of itself both in the overall and Rookie class standings.”
Added Jewiss: “I’m pleased to get third. This race was about damage limitation and we did that well.
“I pulled off a couple of good moves on the way to the podium. I didn’t know if the move on Pasma would work out and thought there was a chance there could be contact, but we both got through the corner.
“Then I pulled off a good move down the inside of my team-mate into turn one for third.
“I was quick again in that race, but it’s hard to pass around here and once you are behind a car like I was with Doohan you lose downforce. It makes things even trickier.
“I’m looking forward to the final race of the weekend. Hopefully we can get a good start from pole and take maximum points, as well as the lead in the championship.”
Pasma had plenty to contend with in the race thanks to Arden team-mate and round 11 race winner Dennis Hauger. The Norwegian was glued to Pasma’s gearbox and refused to let the Finn escape while trying to fashion an overtake. Pasma held on however, to come home in fifth.
Their squabble saw the battling duo of Johnathan Hoggard (Fortec Motorsports) and Manuel Sulaiman (JHR Developments) turn the fight for fifth into a quartet. Both Hoggard and Sulaiman having done well at the start to each pick up a place.
Sebastian Priaulx (Arden) salvaged ninth despite a damaged front wing, while Josh Skelton (JHR Developments) finished on the road in 10th, ahead of Lucca Allen (Fortec Motorsports).
After the race, Skelton received a 10 second time penalty for an out of position start which promoted Allen to 10th and a hard earned points paying position.
Sebastian Alvarez (Double R Racing) emerged triumphant after an entertaining duel with home hero Jamie Sharp (Sharp Motorsport). Sharp gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about with a fantastic defensive drive, but ultimately Alvarez’s pressure took its toll and saw Sharp overtaken.
Contact also resulted in Sharp losing his front wing, but he persevered to take the chequered flag, behind Hampus Ericsson. The latter’s race ruined due to an off-track excursion, but the Swede showed great pace in clear air.