Jack Doohan put on a brilliant display in the wet at Le Castellet to take his first Formula 3 win from fourth, chasing down and beating long-time race leader Dennis Hauger during a tense final few laps.
In third, Caio Collet prevented his MP Motorsport teammate Victor Martins from securing a triple rostrum on home soil, nabbing the final podium spot late on.
Polesitter Frederik Vesti struggled with the conditions, losing first to Hauger off the line, before falling to sixth at the flag. Doohan didn’t get a good start either as he dropped to fifth behind Clement Novalak, but recovered superbly before going on to hunt down Hauger.
Despite losing the win, Hauger retains his place at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, extending his lead to six points over Martins.
AS IT HAPPENED
Despite all of the pre-round weather predictions pointing to a hot and sunny weekend in the South of France, the field were thrown the curveball of rain for Race 3, with the wet tyres getting an unexpected run-out.
Starting from pole, Vesti seemed ill-prepared for the change of weather, stuttering off the line and sinking back to second behind Championship leader Hauger. The PREMA Racing driver’s getaway was much better, with the Norwegian finding plenty of grip off the line to storm into the lead ahead of Turn 1.
Vesti managed to cling on to P2 as Hauger scampered off into the distance, building a 1.7s gap inside of the first lap. The Dane was sparred a second challenge as Victor Martins struggled at the start as well, getting jumped by Clément Novalak for third.
The rain had stopped by Lap 6, but the track remained slippery and Novalak was opting for a patient approach, quietly bridging the difference between himself and Vesti. All of his hard work was undone in a matter of corners, though, as he finally attempted an overtake on the ART, but wobbled and allowed not only Martins but also Doohan to get ahead.
Unlike his teammate, Doohan wasn’t willing to be patient and threw his Trident down the side of Martins on the main straight to move into the final podium position. The Australian instantly began to catch up with Vesti too. The Dane had managed to defend P2 in the first half of the race, despite a lack of grip, but succumbed to Doohan pretty quickly, running wide at the first corner.
The ART Grand Prix driver lost a further two places with another wobble, this time at Turn 11, allowing MP Motorsport duo Martins and Collet to leap ahead of him too.
Doohan was now chasing down the race lead, setting the fastest lap of the race at the time, and cutting six tenths out of Hauger’s 2.6s advantage per lap. He’d caught up with five laps to go and was told to go for it over team radio. Doohan needed no second invitation, launching past the PREMA down the main straight.
Hauger kept on the Trident’s tail and was encouraged over team radio to fight for the position, as opposed to settling for second, but in the end, there was nothing he could do. The Australian simply had too much grip and too much control, punching the air as he crossed the line.
There had been plenty of movement behind them in the closing laps too, as Collet nicked P3 from Martins and Novalak lunged past Vesti for P5. Iwasa had also managed to eke in front of Alex Smolyar for seventh. In the final points’ positions, Juan Manuel Correa held on to ninth and Jak Crawford took 10th.
THE KEY QUOTE – JACK DOOHAN (TRIDENT)
“I am very happy with the result and very thankful to the team, to the engineers and the mechanics for giving me an awesome car. The conditions weren’t the easiest, but we managed them well and came out on top. I am very happy and I am now looking forward to the Red Bull Ring in just over a week.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Hauger remains first in the Drivers’ Championship with 66 points, ahead of Martins on 60. Doohan has moved up to third with 58 points, ahead of Novalak, who is fourth with 49, and Caldwell in fifth with 41.
In the Teams’ Championship, PREMA are first with 122 points, ahead of Trident on 107 and MP Motorsport on 95. ART Grand Prix are fourth with 81 and Hitech Grand Prix fifth on 19.
Hauger and Martins will continue their battle at the top of the championship in just under two weeks when the field head to Spielberg in Austria, a circuit where Martins’ MP Motorsport teammate Collet broke the F3 track record in testing.