DRIVER NEWS: First F3 victory for Kennard after stellar Spa weekend
DRIVER NEWS: British motorsport star Jonathan Kennard romped to his first British Formula 3 Championship win in torrential rain conditions this weekend at the legendary Belgian Grand Prix circuit, at Spa-Francorchamps.
Having already set pole position for race two at the track, acknowledged as the greatest driver's challenge in motor racing, Kennard led the field away on a circuit completely saturated by overnight rain.
Because of the soaking conditions, the race started with two laps behind the safety car, but once the field was released, Kennard made best use of his first position and stormed away.
The tinist of errors at the chicane allowed Maro Engel to briefly have a look at a passing move, but a wider line at the next corner allowed Kennard to get back on the power earlier and he defended his lead perfectly.
After that, another flawless display in the wet saw Kennard lead until another safety car period, caused by Ricardo Texeira's accident at Eau Rouge. The race ended under safety car conditions, and crowned a near-perfect weekend for Kennard, 22, from Tunbridge Wells.
As well as his first win in the championship, Kennard's stunning Spa weekend had netted him a second lace in race one, two fastest laps and a new lap record for the track widely regarded as the most technically-demanding in the world.
“I'm obviously delighted to score my first win. To win in the rain at Spa is one of those feats that is regarded as the mark of a great driver, so I'm really proud to have done that,” said Jonathan. “I'm hoping that this is a turning point for myself and the Double R team. We had a good test at Pembrey before this weekend, and found a few tweaks on the car that really helped us. Now we just need to keep this momentum going.”
Having started fifth in race one, Kennard stamped his authority on the race meeting early, moving up to third by the end of lap one! He kept a watching brief as Sam Bird wrested the lead from Kennard's team-mate Stephen Jelley, and then battled with Jelley to the end of the race, setting an awesome new lap record in the process.
On the final lap, Kennard lined up his team-mate and pounced, drafting up the hill through Eau Rouge and blasting past into second place, which he held to the chequered flag.
Kennard's massive haul of 37 points from the Spa meeting was only 4 points shy of the maximum possible, and moves him past Niall Breen to fifth in the standings.
The Kentishman has served notice to the rest of the F3 field of his intentions for the remainder of the season, and has joined the ranks of great names such as Ayrton Senna, Sir Jackie Stewart and Mika Hakkinen to have won in British F3.
He will certainly be one to watch this coming weekend (August 4/5), when he returns to Belgium to compete in the Zandvoort Masters of F3 at Zolder. The event brings together the cream of the current F3 crop from all of the European championships, so is a hugely prestigious race to win.