Rarely can a driver walk away from a race weekend in any category feeling like they extracted the maximum from themselves, but Carlin’s Enaam Ahmed can after winning all three of the opening British F3 races at Oulton Park – A record-breaking achievement.
The 17-year-old faced stiff competition, primarily from his teammates James Pull and Cameron Das, but pulled uncontainable pace out of his locker to succeed in all three races on British F3’s Super Monday.
After realising his achievement of pulling off the hat-trick, Enaam said,
“It feels pretty special. I can’t really believe it! I’m lost for words. I didn’t think it was really possible to win three races in a weekend but it is a really good way to start the season. I can’t thank the guys at Carlin enough, Mark, Luke, Matt, Trev, Sam. It has been awesome, they’ve given me an amazing car and they haven’t put a foot wrong. I didn’t quite deliver in qualifying with third but to come back with the wins has been amazing!”
– Enaam Ahmed
Race One of the British F3 Championship was a tense affair in damp conditions with reigning US F4 Champion Cameron Das on pole. The American didn’t execute an ideal start off the line, allowing Lanan Racing’s Toby Sowery to get by along with Das’ Carlin teammates Enaam Ahmed and James Pull.
Sowery was able to lead for a large chunk of the opening race with Ahmed in hot pursuit, within half-a-second at one stage. With three laps to go, Sowery made a costly error as Ahmed challenged for the lead, holding the inside line into the left at Cascades as Sowery attempted to hold position on the outside, but eventually ran out of road.
Ahmed picked up the first win of the 2017 season with James Pull just shy of three-seconds behind, Sowery was able to hold onto the final podium place from a race-long squabble between Fortec’s Ben Hingeley and polesitter Cameron Das. Harry Hayek finished 6th, with the charging Douglas Motorsports car of Callum O’Keefe 7th and within a second of the car ahead.
Omar Ismail finished 8th and would therefore be on pole for race two. Ahmed’s early victory gave the young British driver the early momentum in the Championship with a 35-points haul, and more wins would come as the day progressed.
Race Two would prove to be a more hectic battle, with collisions and a red flag setting up a 4-lap thriller. As the race started, Omar Ismail got away cleanly and the drama all happened behind. Harry Hayek and Toby Sowery collided and then Hayek’s stricken car was collected by Douglas Motorsports Petru Florescu. Jamie Chadwich also sustained damage, limped back to the pits and was eventually removed from classification for gaining assistance in the pits.
Sowery tried to make it back, but was left stranded at Cascades with too much damage on the car. The various incidents brought out the safety car, but leader Ismail managed to spin out too, promoting race one charger O’Keeffe into the lead, with Enaam Ahmed in 2nd and Ben Hingeley 3rd.
The early collision between Hayek and Florescu eventually brought out the red flag when it became clear that the cars were too tangled to remove, meaning that race two would restart with the new running order of O’Keeffe, Ahmed and Hingeley in a four lap sprint.
As the lights went out for the second time in race two, O’Keeffe was swallowed up by Ahmed’s Carlin and Hingeley’s Fortec, the latter defending from O’Keefe and James Pull as the former built a substantial gap at the front.
Ahmed was able to build a gap of 7.7 seconds over the battle for 2nd place at the chequered flag. An incredible margin of victory considering that it was built over four laps. To win from 8th place on the reverse grid, avoid the chaos ahead and then pull that sort of margin out of the bag implies that Ahmed will be the one to beat this season. Hingeley was able to hold on for an impressive 2nd place from O’Keeffe, with James Pull finishing 4th.
Race three saw Ahmed showcase yet another asset, leading a race from lights out to the flag. Concentration and composure were at a maximum in the Carlin driver’s helmet, as he defended well from his teammate Cameron Das to collect an unprecedented three race victories over a single day.
Das finished 2nd, and James Pull completed an all-Carlin podium. O’Keeffe was close again with a strong 4th place, and Omar Ismail made up for his race two spin with 5th, Fortec’s Ben Hingeley rounded out the top six.
Ahmed heads to the second round of the British F3 Championship leading with 95-points, with a 24-point gap back to James Pull in 2nd and Cameron Das in 3rd with 63 points. It means that all three Carlin teammates emerge from the Oulton Park weekend at the top of the standings.
Fortec’s Ben Hingeley comes away from the weekend in 4th, hot on the heels of Das ahead, with Callan O’Keeffe 5th and Omar Ismail rounding out the top six in the driver standings.
Enaam Ahmed’s start to the 2017 British Formula Three campaign is nothing short of phenomenal, the Carlin driver heads to Rockingham with a healthy lead and if he can show a similar flash of pace at the next meeting, could go on to extend his lead further.
Highlights of the British F3 Championship will air on ITV4 in a few weeks and will also be available on BT Sport. As a series, it is one of the most exciting single-seater Championships out there, and if the opening rounds of Oulton Park are anything to go by, we’re in for a hotly contested fight between some of the most promising drivers in Motorsport.