Johnathan Hoggard secures sixth place finish in the FIA Formula 3 Championship meeting at at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium
Weston Hills’ Johnathan Hoggard had his best result in the FIA Formula 3 Championship at the weekend after taking a sixth-place finish in challenging conditions at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
After joining the series following the opening rounds of the season, the Travel Planet-backed racer was able to head to a circuit on which he had previously competed, showing his pace in qualifying as he climbed the order to ninth before his final flying lap was halted by a red flag.
Conditions remained poor for the first race of the weekend, with the start suspended before resuming behind the safety car.
The former Deepings School pupil lined up fourth as the top-12 drivers’ positions were reversed from qualifying, and had an early look at passing Roman Stanek for third but held his spot.
With four laps to run, David Schumacher got his nose inside at La Source, but Hoggard held his position brilliantly through Eau Rouge and Radillon.
Caio Collet got a run on both, taking the position, though would then be handed a five-second time penalty for gaining an advantage off the circuit.
However, his move held up Hoggard and allowed Frederik Vesti and Victor Martins to get past before the Jenzer Motorsport driver took the flag in sixth, scoring five championship points.
Hoggard said: “The best of the track was at the very start of the qualifying session when it was a bit dryer, but then it rained.
“I was trying to find a bit of space and missed the best of the track conditions and I was up on my time when the red flag came out, but it was a positive to get into the top 10 as it changed the whole weekend.
“We have been on the back foot in previous rounds, so it was good to be at the right end on the grid.
“The weather was worse on Saturday as there was very heavy rain. I started fourth in race one and I was hoping we could push for a podium, which was looking to be the case in the opening laps, but then we dropped back.
“Caio Collet passed me on the grass exiting Radillion but it was a good race, a hard race. I think I could have held them off. I was happy with the result but it would have been nice to have kept the position.”
After a delay of more than an hour before race two that afternoon, conditions were wet but drying with more rain expected, meaning it was challenging to get the best out of the tyres and the car.
Hoggard was slow off the line and fell to ninth and then there was contact when Arthur Leclerc tried to pass on the outside at Pouhon, which sent the BRDC SuperStar into a spin and to the back of the field, with late safety cars ending any chance of gaining positions.
He commented: “It was a racing incident in race two. I was defending on the outside but Arthur (Leclerc) was able to carry more speed on the wet line, where he cut across. I had a bit of understeer and we met in the middle.
“It wasn’t big contact but it caused me to spin. I think I did well to save the car but it stalled. I struggled to get it restarted and then we had the safety car.”
Hoping for a better outcome on Sunday, Hoggard started well and gained eighth position from Schumacher, but on lap four went deep into the Bus Stop chicane which hurt his exit and let his rival get back past.
Just after this, while battling with Leclerc for the final point, he ran wide through the gravel and fell to 16th, where he would finish the contest.
Hoggard explained: “I got past David Schumacher off the line in race three and almost had Frederik Vesti in sector two.
“I was keeping with them initially but struggled for grip as the track dried up. I made a small mistake and they managed to get past me.
“Overall we struggled to find the sweet spot with the car in the races. It started well and we were able to put some pressure on the cars in front but by mid-race it fell away and then we were under pressure from the guys behind.
“I am happy we scored points and we have shown we are more competitive in qualifying, but we need to work on the race set-up as we’re not competitive over a race distance.”
Hoggard will be back in action on back-to-back weekends, travelling to Zandvoot in the Netherlands for the first visit in the Championship’s history, which should help level the playing field.