Johnathan Hoggard competes in the Formula 3 Championship race at Zandvoor
Weston Hills Formula 3 driver Johnathan Hoggard endured a tough weekend in the Netherlands as the championship headed to Zandvoort on the North Sea coast.
The former Deepings School pupil was able to take positives from the experience despite being unable to build on his points-scoring Spa Francorchamps form from the previous weekend.
He maintained his impressive performances to open the weekend, finishing practice seventh quickest, just three-tenths of a second off the fastest time, but unfortunately things unravelled from there onwards.
Hoggard explained: “Free Practice was good but unfortunately it was downhill from there on.
“The track improved by one second between free practice and qualifying but we couldn’t improve our time.
“I got blocked on my second qualifying run when the track was at its fastest and I would have gone about two or three-tenths quicker, but it was a really messy session.
“When you qualify where I did then it’s damage limitation. The race you want to make positions up in is race one, as that helps you move up again in race two, but I got put in the barriers.
“In race two we started from the back of the grid which was always going to be tough. We used fresh but not new tyres unlike most people, but we managed to make up some places.
“When we started the car for race three it used quite a bit of voltage on the battery and stopped the drag reduction system from working.
“I was told over the radio that the drag reduction system was enabled but that I couldn’t use mine, so it was a bit of a nightmare really.”
With a grid of 30 cars all vying for space on the twisty 4.2 km circuit, qualifying was about getting a clear lap by staying clear of traffic and avoiding any dirt, sand, or gravel which was being dragged onto the track by other drivers.
On his quick final run, Hoggard found the track blocked, which left him in 23rd position.
He made a good start to the opening 24-lap contest, passing both his team-mates, but then slipped back when he ran wide.
Getting his head down, the Jenzer Motorsport driver gained two places, but contact from Hunter Yeany sent him into the barriers and retirement.
That compounded things for race two, as Hoggard lined up 29th, but he gained three places on the opening lap before going deep into the chicane and losing time as he recovered back on track.
Refusing to give up, he battled back and, despite a couple of safety car periods to recover cars from the gravel, fought his way to 19th, gaining 10 places on his starting position.
For the final race on Sunday morning, Hoggard slipped back at the start to 25th but gained ground, including a pounce after a virtual safety car finished on the final lap, passing two cars to finish 20th.
Hoggard commented: “I would have preferred a weekend like Spa where we could overtake.
“That said, I was surprised by the number of overtakes we made and I was able to race quite well. It was a learning weekend for everyone.
“It’s another track learned and it was positive to be in the mix in the practice session and to make up places in every race.”
With a change in the calendar, Hoggard will now finish the Formula 3 Championship season over the weekend of September 24-26 at Sochi in Russia, where he will be aiming to end the year on a high note.