British F3: Maini secures first win in Rd 3 to lead drivers' standings
The Indian had three podiums in four races to become the new championship leader.
India's Kush Maini continued competing in the 2020 BRDC British F3 Championship with Hitech GP as the Indian started the third weekend at Brands Hatch with some solid times during the four practice sessions held on Friday.
He almost had pole for Race 1 but missed by 0.084s to a returning Ayrton Simmons. "It was a tricky session because the lap times were getting quicker and quicker by the end as it was a drying track obviously," said Maini after qualifying.
"It was all about the last three laps, I messed up my second best lap but put the last lap together, which put me on the front row, so I'm happy with that and I think I'm P4 for race three, so still a good position and let's get some good points for the championship.
"I didn't push hard enough in the first sector as I was a bit cautious as I knew it was my last lap. It is what it is, I think P2 is still a good position to get some good points and stay consistent." It proved to be good for Maini as the Indian retained second place in Race 1 behind Simmons.
An off for British F3 points leader Kaylen Frederick and 29 for Maini meant, it was a tie, heading into Race 2. "I think the points now are even at the top, and obviously he [Kaylen Frederick] made a mistake in qualifying, so we have race three to capitalise on now," said Maini.
"I think it was a good race with some good pace, I was catching Ayrton but this track is hard to pass so I was checking my mirrors, Ulysse was also catching us as well so I think it was us three who pulled out a bit of a gap, so the pace was good.
"When there's two cars within three tenths, it's too hard to pass. You really have to be a second quicker to do anything." Having started Race 2 from the back due to reverse grid formation, Maini clawed back up to finish 11th, very close to get inside the Top 10.
Interesting, he kept title rival Frederick at bay, who ended up 12th but held onto the lead then despite being tied on points at the top. Race 3 brought relief for Maini as he took advantage of the American's disqualification to take the British F3 championship lead.
The race was interrupted all-through but Maini held onto third after gaining a place at the start. He had to fend off Sasakorn Chaimongkol towards the end, which he did at ease. "Obviously there's still a long way to go, I'm still taking it race by race and just working on consistency again," said the Indian.
"Another podium, that's really good from P4 on the grid, especially at Brands so I'm happy to pick off that one place. And I think I'm on pole for the next race, so trying to extend the lead is the plan, get out ahead and just stay there and that will make it a really good weekend.
You can't really pass as soon as you get too close in the back section, so I knew when he [Sasakorn Chaimongkol] was coming, I knew how to control it. After I did my best lap I just didn't take any risks as I knew I had enough in the bag. Wins are amazing but staying consistent again is the secret."
The best was yet to come in Race 4 where Maini started from pole and led all the way to secure his first British F3 win of 2020 and extend his championship advantage over new second placed driver. The Indian has 227 points to Kiern Jewiss' 198 with seven podiums and a win in 11 races.
"We've been waiting for that first win after seven podiums, but I didn't want to rush it," said Maini. "I just wanted to gather points and I knew the win would come sooner or later, and finally it came so I'm really happy.
'For me I don't look at the championship until the last two rounds to be honest, because in this championship anything can happen like you saw. Kaylen [Frederick] was 30 points ahead and he's leaving 40 points behind so there's no point looking at the championship yet, but it's definitely a positive first three rounds.
"They're so brilliant, Hitech gave me a faultless car. They've taken nine or ten podiums in 11 races and one win now, and the championship lead, in their debut year. It's amazing and I really want to thank them," summed up Maini, who will be in action again at Donington Park on September 19-20 for Round 4.
[Image courtesy: BRDC British F3]