Enaam Ahmed has taken a giant step towards claiming the 2017 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship title with his ninth and 10th wins of the season at Brands Hatch.
The Carlin driver completed a pair of lights-to-flag victories in the weekend’s two main races, while a further podium finish in the reversed-grid encounter has catapulted Ahmed into a huge lead at the top of the drivers’ standings, putting him on the brink of winning the championship with two rounds left.
In a reflection of his domination over the rest of the 2017 field, Enaam has now scored seven victories more than any other driver this season. He has also amassed more than double the amount of wins last year’s champion, Matheus Leist, achieved throughout the entirety of 2016.
After topping Saturday morning’s practice session around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, Ahmed went on to secure pole position in tricky conditions during qualifying. The BRDC Rising Star bided his time in the pitlane, before opting to take to the 3.9km track with little over half of the 30-minute shoot-out remaining.
Having posted an initial lap good enough for second place behind Carlin stablemate James Pull, rain began to fall around the Kent circuit, adding to the challenge. While other drivers’ pace dropped, championship leader Enaam lit up the timing screens with a 1m20.746s to storm to his fifth pole position of the year – and second successive pole in a qualifying session – by a margin of 0.131s.
Ahmed held off the advances of Pull and kept his cool amid testing conditions to seal his ninth victory of the season in the weekend opener, which was halted at half-distance after heavy rain fell with the field all on slick Pirelli tyres.
The 17-year-old made a trademark fast start to open up a 1.4s buffer by the end of the first lap. With spots of rain falling and keen not to make a mistake with his championship lead on the line, Enaam’s advantage was soon cut by his hard-charging teammate Pull.
Light rain then turned into a full-blown downpour, causing chaos as the race approached mid-distance. A number of drivers skated off-track at Paddock Hill Bend in the treacherous conditions, before the safety car was deployed as the rain intensified further, ultimately forcing the race officials to red-flag the event.
Starting from eighth in the partially reversed-grid race, Ahmed made another lightning-quick start to move up the order, finding himself in fifth after the first few corners – having avoided a collision at Druids involving Chris Dittmann Racing’s Jeremy Wahome and Nicolai Kjaergaard.
After momentarily dropping a position to sixth, the Briton was soon promoted to fourth when Wahome was involved in contact for a second time as he forced Fortec’s Ben Hingeley into the gravel at Druids, while the Kenyan racer dropped down the order with damage.
Title rival Toby Sowery took victory on the road, but was later excluded from the race after his Lanan Racing car was found to have broken technical rules. The disqualification not only enabled Enaam to inherit a podium spot in third, but it handed the youngster pole position for the weekend finale with Sowery also stripped of his fastest lap.
Lining up from pole for the sixth time in 2017, Ahmed went on to claim his second lights-to-flag victory of the round in dominant fashion, as he edged clear of his rivals in a commanding display of consistent speed and control.
Enaam fended off strong-starting team-mate Cameron Das into Paddock Hill Bend and soon rocketed into an untouchable lead. Getting his head down, the youngster set a sequence of fastest laps to charge into a comfortable position at the front of the field. Determined to assert his authority over the rest, Ahmed continued to pull clear on a lap-by-lap basis, ultimately leading home a Carlin 1-2-3 by a margin of more than 6s.
Following his 10th win of the season, Enaam said: “A big thanks to everyone at Carlin, who have supported me and given me such confidence this weekend. Every lap of the last race I treated it like a qualifying session, because I know as I move up the single-seater ladder you have to push every lap. I gave it my all every lap, which is an approach I’ve wanted to work on and I managed to get a good gap.”
The weekend’s results have seen Ahmed move onto a total of 489 points and 106 points clear of team-mate Pull. With a maximum of 95 available from each of the remaining two rounds, the Carlin driver could wrap up the title as early as the next meeting, which takes place at Snetterton on 26/27 August.
Press Release by Lewis Larkam