23rd September 2020
Louis Foster stormed his way to an emphatic victory at Donington Park – recording his second win of the season in the BRDC British F3 Championship to move into third in the championship standings.
Louis entered qualifying on Saturday morning aiming to repeat his front-row successes of the series’ previous visit to Donington Park.
A conservative first lap effort of a 1:29.551 saw Louis occupy P1 until times naturally began to tumble. By the halfway stage of the session, Louis sat in P7 with 1:25.479, just over four tenths of a second back from provisional pole.
An accident for Benjamin Pedersen at Coppice brought about an untimely red flag with just over two minutes of the session remaining. With such little time left on the clock, the session was not restarted. As a result, Louis was unable to improve on his earlier time and had dropped to P11 before the session was suspended, leaving him to line up 11th on the grid for race one and 10th for race three.
“I was a bit disappointed with qualifying as the results weren’t very representative, I felt like the top ten was definitely possible but I never got the chance for another lap to go for it. These things can’t be helped though, it just meant I could have some more fun in the races!”
Starting race one in the thick of the action, Louis was confident he could make up ground early on and get inside the top ten. However, the 17-year-old found himself caught up in an incident at Coppice that dropped him to 16th – leaving him with the bit between his teeth to climb back through the field.
Taking his place at the end of the safety car queue, Louis immediately began his fight back as racing resumed and passed Fores for 15th place. By lap four, he had pushed forward to 13th place with 12th-placed runner Mason his next target, dispatching of the Lanan Racing car on lap five.
The Copart-sponsored driver then set about chasing down Hijjawi for 11th, cutting the gap gradually lap-by-lap until he made his way past the Jordanian on lap 10 to take back his starting position.
At the chequered flag, Louis crossed the line in 11th place just three tenths shy of Prior in tenth.
“The incident at the start wasn’t ideal but I was confident in myself and the pace of the car that I could make my way back through the field, which I did. It shows I could’ve been further up without the first lap drama but that’s racing, I’m still very pleased with how it went and it put me a good position for the rest of the weekend.”
Starting in sixth position for the reverse-grid race, Louis was in a prime spot to challenge for a podium and a strong points-scoring result.
A sublime getaway from the start line saw the Pogessi-supported driver vault from sixth to third by the time the field had navigated their way through Redgate. Louis then lined up the Fortec of Roberto Faria as they descended through the Craner Curves and scythed his way up the inside of the Brazilian through Old Hairpin.
Now following Mason, Louis hounded the Lanan Racing machine for the remainder of the lap – making his way past and through into the lead entering the Melbourne Hairpin.
Holding a seven tenth gap at the end of the first lap, Louis set about extending the gap to the cars behind him, pulling out a further three tenths on the following tour to move one second clear.
Untroubled at the front, the Lord Wandsworth College pupil had created a two-second buffer by lap nine but Mason behind was beginning to make a late charge.
With the gap trimmed to one second heading into the last lap, Louis kept his cool and saw off the threat behind to take the chequered flag and record his second victory of the season.
“The car felt amazing in race two, I had total confidence that I could battle at the front. I proved in the first race that I could make my way through the field so starting higher up the grid put me in a good place to repeat that. I made a really good start and kept it on the outside heading into Redgate. I had already made it past two cars and tried to get past Faria around the outside but I snatched the front-right and had to slot in behind. I got a great run on him coming through the Craners and saw a chance into Old Hairpin and took it. I then managed to get past Mason heading into Melbourne Hairpin and just held the lead from there. All in all, a great result!”
After a delayed start to the third race to recover the stricken car of Hijjawi, Louis aimed to avoid a repeat of the first-lap dramas in race one. A cautious getaway saw him maintain his 10th place starting spot throughout the opening tours of the race.
For much of the race, Louis circulated in a train of cars from fourth place to 11th. At the midway point, an error from Pedersen in front sent the American onto the grass – kicking up dust and dirt into Louis’ path and subsequently causing him to run slightly wide as well. This dropped Louis into the clutches of Bird behind who was able to make his way through, relegating Louis to 11th.
“It was a shame I couldn’t make the same gains as I had in the previous races but 11th is still a solid result with plenty of points scored. All in all the weekend was a successful one – I’m the highest-placed rookie in the championship which gives me great confidence moving into the second half of the season. As always, a huge thank you to Double R for giving me a great car again, I’m looking forward to getting back out there at Snetterton!”
Louis now occupies third place in the championship standings with 224 points and sits as the highest-placed rookie, only 18 points behind Frederick in second place. With three rounds left to run this season, Louis is next in action at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk – on the weekend of 3-4 October.
Images courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography.