Kiern Jewiss began his sophomore season in BRDC British F3 in fine fashion by claiming three top-five results in four races - including a victory in the opening event - to leave Oulton Park second in the drivers' standings.
As the weekend began with qualifying, Kiern was very much in the hunt for a strong set of results, lapping consistently within the top-four positions. As the session entered the final five minutes, the field was split by the slimmest of margins - just 0.4s separating the top ten - with Kiern sat in P4, less than three tenths behind Foster in P1.
With the session drawing to a close, the top three all chose to pit with few drivers making any improvements on the timing screens. Kiern stayed out and began to set personal best sectors throughout the lap, finishing the session by remaining P4, 0.245s off pole position. His second fastest lap was also good enough to line up P8 for race three, securing two top-ten starts.
“We knew we had some work to do coming off of Friday’s test sessions so I was more than happy to line up P4 and P8. We worked hard to improve the performance across the weekend and those results show we did just that and left us in a good position as we headed into the races.”
With a starting spot of fourth for the opening race, Kiern was in the best place possible to capitalise on the drama that unfolded in front. As both Foster and Frederick appeared to make false starts, Kiern swooped past Azman to run third on the road confident in the knowledge his two rivals ahead would fall foul of the botched starting procedure with Foster receiving a penalty mid-race.
Knowing the Oulton Park circuit is a difficult track to follow and overtake on, Kiern held firm in third place strategising to keep his nose clean and bring the car safely home for a guaranteed podium finish.
Shortly after the race, results were amended further as Frederick also received a 10-second penalty for a false start, promoting Kiern to the race win - his second in the BRDC British F3 Championship.
“That was a really good result for us. Seeing the two ahead jump the start, it was pretty clear they weren’t going to stay there so it was just about keeping myself there or thereabouts. I couldn't get too close to Foster, following is tricky round here and the tyres were just too hot. With the extra race this weekend, you have to prepare for that as well with how they set the grid so I needed a fast lap for that too.”
Starting in P14 for the reverse-grid race, it would always be a struggle for Kiern to gain places around the tight and twisty Oulton Park circuit.
It was a closely fought affair as Kiern kept within 1.5s of Azman ahead of him in thirteenth, ready to pounce should the Malaysian make any mistakes. Despite the close running, all 17 drivers held fair with Kiern only being promoted one position owing to a retirement further ahead.
With calmness and consistency the order of the day, Kiern brought the car home in thirteenth place to secure another three valuable points to add to his tally.
“We were always going to be up against it in the reverse-grid. Everyone had learnt their lesson from the first race and kept it all tidy off the start so we were just following one another for the whole race pretty much, tricky to follow closely and even harder to overtake - especially when the tyres start to heat up and you lose the grip from the front-end.”
Heading into Sunday, Kiern lined up P8 on the grid for the third race of the weekend. A sublime opening tour of the Cheshire circuit allowed the 18-year-old to climb to fifth place and set about challenging for fourth.
Latched to the gearbox of Foster ahead, Kiern kept the pressure on for much of the race but struggled to find a way past the series debutant.
Kiern crossed the line in fifth place - only 0.45s behind Foster as the chequered flag flew - but further amendments to the race result raised Kiern to a fourth place finish, his second top-four result in three races.
“The third race was a lot more fun, we made some good ground up on that first lap. I challenged Foster as much as I could but again it’s just so difficult to pass around here. Still, to eventually get fourth is another good result and more points on the board."
With the unknown quantities of a fourth race scheduled for the weekend, Kiern prepared well for the extra event with a top-ten grid slot of seventh.
Utilising another excellent opening lap, Kiern climbed a position to sixth place and quickly set about challenging Azman in front. As the race progressed, Kiern kept within striking distance of his rival but was unable to find a way past.
With ten minutes of the race left to run, Kiern was promoted to fifth following an accident for Bart Horsten that saw the Australian slide off the road and into an early retirement. From there, it was another clean end to the race for Kiern to secure another 19 points in the championship.
“We had a good race to end the weekend. Our pace was strong and I managed to make a couple of places up. To be in the top-five pretty much all weekend is a great start to the season, particularly to come away from the weekend with a win and to hold second in the championship. We’ve got a great base to build on as we head to Donington.”
Kiern will be back in action on the weekend of the 15/16 August as the BRDC British F3 Championship heads to northwards to Donington Park, where Kiern claimed three podium finishes at last year's visits plus a further podium and race win during his title-winning British F4 campaign.
Image courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography.