Leist claims his second win in eventful Silverstone finale

  • Crashes galore but Matheus Leist steers clear to claim the win ahead of Colton Herta
  • Enaam Ahmed third and Rookie class victor
  • Dramas for title hopefuls Lando Norris and Ricky Collard

SILVERSTONE 27 SEPTEMBER, 2015 – Through the drama of a chaotic third and final Silverstone round of the MSA Formula weekend, young Brazilian Matheus Leist picked his way carefully to victory – his second of the season for the Double R team – ahead of Carlin driver Colton Herta.

Only 10 of the 19 starters made it to the chequered flag, with championship protagonists Lando Norris and Ricky Collard both in the wars; Collard’s race ended in the pits and Norris finished 10th and last after a pit call following contact. As a result, the title fight will go down to the wire next month at Brands Hatch with just 13 points separating them.

It was a spate of crashes on the opening lap which shaped the race. The first saw Josh Smith’s Fortec car spear off the circuit after contact with Enaam Ahmed’s TRS Arden machine. Then, at Luffield, Collard tagged Dan Ticktum into a spin which set off a chain reaction involving the cars of Sandy Mitchell, Rafael Martins and Tarun Reddy which led to their elimination also.

Carlin man Norris had made an impeccable start from pole position to lead the race ahead of fast-starter Toby Sowery (MBM Motorsport) but, as they headed into Brooklands on lap two towards the scene of the earlier accidents, Norris slowed and Sowery did not, and the resulting contact between them led to Sowery’s retirement and Norris’s pit visit for repairs. Said Lando: “I’m not sure what happened, really. I took my normal line, not too wide, not too tight and I was at least half-way around the corner when I got a big hit in the side.”

Sowery was at a loss also: “I don’t know what happened. Lando didn’t really back off a noticeable amount but then I guess he must have seen something that I didn’t and braked hard. I took my normal line and that’s how we met…”

With the safety car called into play while all the cars involved were retrieved to safety, it was Leist heading the train ahead of Herta, Collard, Baybutt and Ahmed. Racing did not resume until the seventh lap, by which time there had been further contact between Collard and Ticktum; the latter retired to the pits and an investigation of the incident by the stewards of the meeting. This second contact left Collard’s front wing flapping; he was summoned to the pits for attention to the damage but did not act upon the warning flags, leading to him being black-flagged.

Leist mastered the restart and built a 0.9s lead over Herta, with Ahmed slotting into third after his team-mate’s removal from proceedings. Leist’s tyres were well past their best in the latter stages and Herta set fastest lap in his pursuit, narrowing the Brazilian’s advantage to 0.6s at the line. “It was mad, a crazy race,” said Colton, “but it all helped me because I had a poor start. Maybe if we’d had a couple more laps I could have done something about Matheus because his tyres were going off… I was pushing at the end but I just didn’t have enough.”

Said a delighted Matheus, who had to settle for fourth after starting Saturday’s race from the pole: “This makes up for yesterday. We worked hard on the car and made some changes and I had a very good set-up. I’m really happy with my second win, and a bit surprised – but that is motor racing, that’s how it is sometimes, people crash and you are lucky. It’s been a long time since my first win at Donington and I’m so happy with this.”

Ahmed cruised home for third overall (and his third Rookie class victory) despite some damage picked up in his first-lap incident: “I had a bent front wing because of contact with Josh Smith on the first lap – he didn’t give me much room and we touched. That was the most mad race I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. I had a lot of problems in qualifying and I had pretty much written off the weekend, I’m just so happy to finish with a podium.”

The battle for fourth between James Pull (Fortec) and Dan Baybutt (JTR) came to a sticky end on lap 16 when they touched. Pull joined the growing list of retirees and Baybutt dropped down the order, with Falcon Motorsport’s talented rookie Darius Karbaley profiting from the carnage to move into fourth for his and the team’s best result of the year. “I must have lucked in somewhere!” said Darius. “I really didn’t expect this sort of result. People kept falling off in front of me…”

Richardson Racing’s Louise Richardson was another to stay out of trouble and her reward was fifth place: “I think I’m about the only one who didn’t pick up any damage. It all happened in front of me and it was just a case of driving through the debris and avoiding it.” She finished just ahead of JHR Developments driver Jack Butel, for whom sixth was a season’s best.

With Sennan Fielding out of the race after just a lap with gearbox issues, the finishing order was completed by Carlin’s Petru Florescu, Baybutt, Richardson Racing man Greg Holloway and pit-stopper Norris.

Provisional results Round 27 Silverstone 27 September 2015
18 laps / 29.53 miles
1 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 20m 19.298s / 87.18mph
2 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +0.671s
3 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +5.394s
4 Darius KARBALEY / GBR / Falcon +12.535s
5 Louise RICHARDSON / GBR / Richardson +13.140s
6 Jack BUTEL / GBR / JHR +14.348s
7 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin +15.432s
8 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR +25.386s
9 Greg HOLLOWAY / AUS / Richardson +30.964s
10 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 17 laps
Fastest lap Herta 57.365s / 102.94mph

Rookie class 1 Ahmed; 2 Karbaley; 3 Florescu; 4 Baybutt

Full times

Provisional championship standings
1 Norris 357 points; 2 Ricky Collard 344; 3 Herta 301; 4 Sennan Fielding 286; 5 Leist 266; 6 Daniel Ticktum 242; 7 Sandy Mitchell 165; 8 Ahmed 124; 9 Florescu 95; 10 James Pull 93 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 408; 2 Ahmed 358; 3 Mitchell 350; 4 Baybutt 327; 5 Florescu 319 etc