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Chase Owen scored a season-best second position this weekend at Donington Park for the final round of the 2017 BRDC Formula 3 Championship, concluding his campaign in seventh position in the overall classification.
The pre-weekend tests got underway on Thursday and Owen went second fastest during the only dry session of the day. Having already found a good set up during a private test earlier in the season, car and driver were quick straight out of the box on Thursday. Hillspeed's strong base set up on the car didn't require much changing throughout the weekend, which remained dry on Saturday and Sunday.
Qualifying went according to plan for the American, lining up P3 on the grid for Race 1 – his best qualifying position of the year – just three tenths of a second off Ben Hingeley who qualified on pole for Fortec. From P3, Owen could certainly mount a challenge for his first podium of the year.
Owen's chance of a podium in Race 1 was dashed right from the start, as too much wheel spin off the line resulted in him dropping positions. All three races became processional after the opening lap, so there was little opportunity for Owen to claw back lost places in Race 1. He finished in P6, which consequently placed him P3 for the start of the reversed grid Race 2. Owen managed a stronger getaway for Race 2, despite another rocket start by Jordan Cane for Douglas Motorsport. Both drivers avoided drama involving Cane's teammate Callum O'Keeffe who started from P2 behind Nicolai Kjaergaard, enabling Owen to seize upon the opportunity and move up into P2 behind Cane.
Owen commented following the podium ceremony:
"That was the luck we've been waiting for all year and it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, Jordan and I swapped places at the start at he had a really good start and was able to beat me off the line. So coming into the first corner, I dropped back a place behind him."
"We've had the car all weekend and we've definitely deserved it. The team deserves it and the car has been great all weekend. Jordan and I had a few jostling moments but nothing firm and I tried hard and was able to get him off line a few times, but nothing to make up the place I lost. We were quite close on the last lap. I had a look on the inside of him coming into one of the hairpins, but coming into the first corner after O'Keeffe and Kjaergaard went off, Jordan was able to put some distance on me O'Keeffe rejoined the track right in front of me which slowed me down a little bit. I was able to pass Callan going into the Old Hairpin, but by that time, Jordan was a second or two in front of me."
"If I can nail the start in the third race, I can make up at least one or two places, so I know I have the pace to keep up and probably beat the Carlins, so we're hoping for that in the next race."
Unfortunately, Race 3 was hampered from the start once more, this time by Alex Quinn forcing Owen off the circuit on the outside of Turn 1. Having set the third fastest time of the weekend, Owen started from P3 but ended the final race of the season P6.
Owen's manager Henry James said:
"It's been a great moment for all of the Owen team to see him on the podium this weekend. It's a well-merited result given that Chase has developed so quickly in a Formula 3 car. Finishing the series seventh overall is a huge accomplishment, especially when we consider that he has been competing against with race winning drivers in their second year of the BRDC F3."
"From here, we have a lot of work to do in the months ahead to prepare for Chase's 2018 season. He has a wide ranging number of opportunities and we will certainly be seeing Chase move into more advanced machinery in 2018."