British F3: Maini keeps title hopes alive with a podium at Donington
The Indian came back strong in Race 2 and Race 3 after a bad qualifying and Race 1.
India's Kush Maini continued his run the 2020 BRDC British F3 Championship with Hitech GP as the Indian started the sixth weekend at Donington Park in a good space during the eight practice sessions held on Thursday and Friday, especially after tough Snetterton round.
He was mostly inside the Top 10 apart from one and even set the best time on Friday. It looked good for pole or at least a Top 5 finish but it wasn't to be as Maini only ended up ninth due to track limits issues in cloudy conditions at the circuit.
His bad luck was that title rival Kaylen Frederick ended up on pole. The first race, though, was pushed to Sunday morning after bad weather on Saturday did not allow for the race to happen. A gamble in Race 1 to use slick tyres on a damp track did not pay off for Hitech GP.
They were the only team to do so alongside one other car as the rest of the field opted to use the wet tyres. As a result, Maini could only manage ninth, thanks to a multi-car retirement at the start of the race. The Indian conceded his British F3 points lead to winner Frederick.
The shining light from the misery seemed like that he would start Race 2 from row two but it wasn't to be. Considering that he couldn't set a time within the 103 percent of the fastest lap, Maini and his teammate had to start from the lower half of the grid.
It was a wild charge for the Indian in Race 2, though, as he jumped up seven places in the opening lap to sixth from 13th. He didn't stop there as he passed two more drivers, including Frederick, to eventually end up fourth and thereby cut the points gap.
The Race 3 saw another determined performance from Maini as he climbed to fourth from ninth in the opening few laps, just behind the podium runners. He was chasing Sasakorn Chaimongkol hard towards the end for third - what became a fight for second eventually.
But with no laps remaining, he had to settle for third, to register his 11th podium of the season and a much needed one heading into the final weekend, especially with Frederick winning again. "I'm really a bit disappointed with my quali to be honest," said Maini.
"But I did two good comebacks to stay only 13 points behind Kaylen, which is nothing in this championship. We're keeping it alive and I think it's going to be a fun Silverstone. I think he's [Frederick] definitely had the pace on us this weekend, but this championship is swinging between me and him over the last four or five rounds so anything could happen in my eyes.
"This is my 11th podium of the season, I'm happy with that. Obviously the last two weekends have not been ideal for me, after having a 55 point lead we kind of threw that away. But if after quali you'd told me that I'd leave this weekend only 13 points behind I'd be happy.
"So I think our worst is gone and obviously he might have a bad weekend next time like this, and anything could happen." As Maini mentioned, Frederick is 13 points ahead with 420 to 407, while there are others in the hunt but third-placed driver is 29 points behind the Indian.
[Image courtesy: BRDC British F3]