16 / 18 April
Chris Dittmann Racing’s Ayrton Simmons claimed the best championship finish of his GB3 career so far, after securing the runner-up spot at Donington Park last weekend (16-17 October).
Simmons scored four wins across the season as well as three pole positions, and ultimately finished six points clear of Carlin’s Christian Mansell in the final standings.
But it wasn’t straightforward for the 20-year-old, as he had to fight back from adversity on more than one occasion at the Donington finale.
He qualified eighth for race one, but only three tenths of a second away from pole position. But a strong start to the race almost came to nought as he was involved in a first lap melee at McLeans that also accounted for several of his rivals for the runner-up spot, including Christian Mansell and Roberto Faria.
He dropped as far back as 14th, but fought back to seventh by the chequered flag, and actually strengthened his grip on second place in the championship as a result.
Race two saw Mansell draw level on points though after the Australian took third with a last lap move, while Simmons took fifth, this time from seventh on the grid.
The reverse grid for race three put Simmons ahead of the drivers he was fighting with, and simply needed to finish ahead of them to secure runner-up. But once again there was trouble, Mansell and Ushijima had early dramas, while Simmons climbed into the top-10. But with noticeable front wing damage throughout the race, he seemed in a perilous position despite gaining further positions.
On the last lap the upper wing finally worked its way loose and he dropped down the order, but only as far as 10th while Mansell was classified 14th, thereby securing Simmons second place in the championship.
It was a relieved Simmons at the end of the event. “I left it all on the track!” he exclaimed. “Unfortunately I had a bit of wing damage from lap one, and I could notice it but I still had to give it my absolute all and try and make as many positions as I could. I think I got as high as P5 until part of the wing completely fell off on the last lap, and I lost a few positions. But it turned out to be enough so I’m very glad."
He was also grateful of his team’s work behind the scenes to turn his season around after a difficult run of events in the first third of the year.
“We obviously had that little dip in the middle where we were all scratching our heads but we got our stuff together again and found our pace and our mojo.
“From Snetterton onwards we’ve been on the ball game. At one point we were down in P7 or P8 in the standings and we’ve recovered all the way up to P2, so I’m very happy and very proud of everyone involved in CDR and everyone in my family.”
The British driver made an initial foray into FIA F3 in Russia at the end of September, and his target is to find an opportunity in the F1 support-paddock for next year.
“We’re going to look into doing FIA F3, but it’s a big jump in terms of budget, so we will try our best over the winter and see where we end up.”
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