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Hingeley storms to Spa win as Ahmed extends title advantage

Friday, July 07 2017

Fortec Motorsport's Ben Hingeley claimed a superb win at Spa Francorchamps today (Friday 7 July), following a dramatic opening race of the weekend.

Hingeley started third on the grid, but passed championship leader Enaam Ahmed on the first lap and then overtook Toby Sowery on lap three to clinch his third win in eight races, and moving to second in the championship standings. Ahmed's second place was his ninth podium of the year, while Guilherme Samaia's third place is easily his best result of the season.

Earlier, championship leader Enaam Ahmed secured his first qualifying pole position after a gripping tussle with Sowery and Hingeley.

The trio engaged in battle for much of the second half of the session, with Ahmed's late flier securing pole by just 0.036s on the longest circuit on the calendar, with Lanan's Sowery settling for second having been fastest in testing yesterday. Hingeley in third was a tenth off the fastest time, while a strong performance from Samaia secured fourth on the grid for Double R Racing, and just 0.172s off the fastest time in the session.

Pole man Ahmed made a good start to lead down to La Source on lap one, while Hingeley challenged Sowery for second place. Coming to the end of the Kemmel straight into Les Combes, Sowery and Hingeley were able to make use of the tow to draft past Ahmed, with the championship leader ending the lap in third place. Meanwhile, further back, James Pull was already up to 10th place after his qualifying issues.

Sowery had built a small lead early on but Hingeley began to peg him back, and the pair were separated by just 0.4 seconds starting lap three. On the approach to the Bus Stop Chicane, Hingeley pulled out of Sowery's slipstream and the pair were side by side through the initial right hand turn with Hingeley on the outside. The pair appeared to make slight contact and Hingeley took the inside of the left hand turn, claiming the lead.

The Fortec driver then set about building a lead of two seconds, while Sowery was further demoted on lap four, first by title rival Ahmed and then by Brazilian Samaia, enjoying his best race of the season.

Ahmed set about trimming Hingeley's lead and had it down to 1.1 seconds by the end of the race, but ultimately ran out of laps in his pursuit. Samaia finished a further two seconds back securing his first podium finish on the back of a very strong weekend so far. Sowery had tried to at least regain a podium spot, and got the gap down to half a second at one point before settling for fourth.

Cane and Chadwick provided plenty of entertainment, the pair frequently changing places before Cane emerged ahead in fifth with Chadwick sixth. Cameron Das claimed seventh from 10th on the grid while Pull's reward for a strong fightback to eighth is pole position for tomorrow's top-eight reversed race, which starts at 10.40 local time. 

Callan O'Keeffe and Chase Owen completed the top-10 runners. The top three drivers were presented with their trophies on the podium by BRDC member and ex-F1 racer Martin Donnelly.

Hingeley commented: "Last time out I claimed a win on a brilliant track like Silverstone and I've done the same today so I'm really made up. I got a great start and a lovely tow down the back straight on both Toby and Enaam and managed to get around the outside of Enaam. I pushed on to catch Toby and I had the pace on him.

"I caught him and got a really nice tow down the back straight into the chicane and he defended to the inside, I went to the outside, out-braked him and got the move done. As we went through the right I had the inside for the left and I'm not sure if because he took a tighter line, he understeered but there was a bit of contact which pushed me off the track and I had to take to the escape road a little bit. These things happen with racing and without the contact I would have made the corner quite comfortably.

"We'll go again now, we've got the night to think about anything we need to change and try and figure out why the rear tyres went off a little bit and we'll come back tomorrow to try and get another two wins."

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