It was difficult to ask for a better drive of Lucas Foresti.
Starting from 6th at a damp Brands Hatch in first British Formula 3 race of the weekend, the Brazilian bravely stayed out on wet Copper tyres, even though a returning, sun dried the circuit during the running.
In terms of risky strategies, it was right up with the best of them, but Foresti’s smooth style kept his wet tyres intact, while others fell by the wayside.
Foresti climbed to 4th off the line, coolly following the battling Felipe Nasr and Carlos Huertas (both Carlin) – meanwhile, polesitter Rupert Svendsen-Cook used the fight to his advantage, pulling out a lead of 3.4 seconds in the first five laps.
As a drying line emerged, Nasr began to struggle, with Foresti moving into 3rd at Paddock Hill Bend on the 8th lap. With seemingly little to lose, the Brazilian pitted a lap later with Huertas following two tours later and Svendsen-Cook on lap 12.
The delay would cost Svendsen-Cook his advantage. The Englishman emerged from the pits neck and neck with Nasr, only for the Brazilian to steal the position into Paddock Hill Bend.
Amidst the stops, Foresti surged to the top of the leader board, assuming a near 30 second lead over the now 3rd place Nasr.
Between the Brazilian pair stood reigning British Formula Ford Champion Scott Pye. Having started from 9th, Pye attempted to use the changeable conditions to his benefit, adopting an identical strategy to Foresti.
However the Australian had neither the large gap nor the steady car that his Fortec Motorsport opponent possessed. By the the 18th lap, Nasr had passed the Hitech man, with Svendsen-Cook taking the final podium spot on the penultimate lap.
Pye, his grip gone, could no longer hold the stalking pack off – the Australian soon shuffled back toward to the mid-table.
Yann Cunha also stayed out for the duration. Having started 18th, the T-Sport driver climbing as high as 3rd, before his Cooper tyres had cried enough, leaving the Brazilian to fall through the pack almost as quickly as he had risen.
Bringing it Home
Felipe Nasr pulled nearly 25 seconds out of Foresti in the final laps, but it was not enough – the Fortec pilot claimed yet another victory (by 4.96 seconds) and it was easily Foresti’s best yet.
“I was thinking to take slicks at the start, but I started on the wets – I just did the best laps I could. In the pits, it takes a long time to change tyres in Formula 3 – sometimes quick, sometimes not. The race was halfway wet and halfway dry, so it was a tricky decision.”
Nasr took 2nd place with an eight second advantage over Svendsen-Cook (3rd). Of his stop, Nasr revealed:
“We set up the car for the wet, but once it started drying, we were slower than anyone else, so that was a good time to go into the pits and it seemed to work out.”
Svendsen-Cook, however, was clearly disappointed with the outcome:
“I had a massive lead in the wet conditions, our pace was evident, but Lucas was catching me. We made a decision to pit for slicks a lap or two later than Felipe [Nasr], so his tyres were up to temperature and I went wide at the first turn and he got me. That was the story of the race.”
Taking the Flag
A quiet Jazeman Jaafar crossed the line a further four seconds back ahead of Huertas who could do no better than 5th, showing vague pace on dry tyres.
William Buller took 6th for Fortec. The Northern Ireland man stalled on the grid dropping him down the order, but a determined run with a cunning strategy (he was the first to pit) saw Buller scythe through the field, without necessarily having to pass other on track.
Scott Pye eventually claimed 7th, but only after Kevin Magnussen received a ten-second penalty for exceeding the track limits repeatedly.
Menasheh Idafar (9th, T-Sport) and Harry Tincknell (10th, Fortec) rounded out the top ten with solid drives, while Sino Vision racer Adderly Fong was the first outside the points, not helped by a sluggish mid-race stop.
Fong just held off Pietro Fantin (Hitech) at the line, with the pair only separated by three-tenths.
Finishing 13th was Carlin’s Jack Harvey after something of an indifferent race, wedged around a slow pitstop. Harvey crossed the line with a sizeable gap to Cunha (14th) and Pipo Derani (15th, Double R).
Hitech Racing substitute Max Snegirev claimed a very distant 16th, while Kotaru Sakurai finished 17th overall, taking another Rookie Class win in the process, following Bart Hylkema’s fourth lap spin and retirement.
“It is a very hard track when it’s really wet and changing, but it’s really good to improve myself. I was pretty clean in the wet and up to the Championship cars, but they have more downforce. When they changed to slick tyres, there was no reason to fight against them.”
Hywel Lloyd (Sino Vision) and Fahmi Ilyas (Fortec) also suffered race ending accidents in the final stages of the race.
Race Rating: 4 out of 5
Results - 21 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Lucas Foresti Fortec Dallara-Merc 30m35.827s 2. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW + 4.966s 3. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin Dallara-VW + 12.447s 4. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 16.903s 5. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW + 19.329s 6. Will Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc + 21.838s 7. Scott Pye Double R Dallara-Merc + 28.417s 8. Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW + 29.708s 9. Menasheh Idafar T-Sport Dallara-VW + 34.168s 10. Harry Tincknell Fortec Dallara-Merc + 38.714s 11. Adderly Fong Sino Vision Dallara-Merc + 40.042s 12. Pietro Fantin Hitech Dallara-VW + 40.411s 13. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW + 45.635s 14. Yann Cunha T-Sport Dallara-VW + 55.528s 15. Pipo Derani Double R Dallara-Merc + 57.310s 16. Maxim Snegirev Hitech Dallara-VW + 1m19.824s 17. Kotaro Sakurai Hitech Dallara-Mugen + 1 lap Retirements: Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision Dallara-Merc 17 laps Fahmi Ilyas Fortec Dallara-Merc 15 laps Bart Hylkema T-Sport Dallara-Mugen 3 laps British Formula 3 (Rd 4, Race 1) Pos Driver Team Points Championship Standings 1. Felipe Nasr Carlin 129 2. Lucas Foresti Fortec 91 3. Carlos Huertas Carlin 79 4. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin 78 5. Kevin Magnussen Carlin 60 6. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin 57 7. Pietro Fantin Hitech Racing 52 8. Riki Christodoulou Hitech Racing 51 9. William Buller Fortec 49 10. Harry Tincknell Fortec 34 11. Menasheh Idafar T-Sport 18 12. Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision 18 Rookie Class Standings 1. Bart Hylkema T-Sport 130 2. Kotaru Sakurai Hitech Racing 93