Maiden BRDC Formula 4 success for Omar Ismail on Snetterton Saturday

Omar Ismail claimed a lights-to-flag victory in the first Duo BRDC Formula 4 race of the weekend at Snetterton today (Saturday) to take his maiden win in the series, despite this being only his second race weekend in the championship. The 16-year-old resisted heavy pressure from championship leader Will Palmer to take the chequered flag 1.351s ahead of the HHC Motorsport driver, having started from pole position. Palmer’s team-mate Harri Newey rounded out the podium in third.

Ismail, who hails from Solihull, had earlier taken pole position in an intriguing qualifying session, which took place in glorious sunshine on the Snetterton 300 circuit in Norfolk. Ismail was the first to complete a competitive lap and held on to provisional pole position in the early stages.

Harri Newey took top spot briefly before the Chris Dittmann Racing machine of Ismail reclaimed the fastest lap, a 1m49.520s being 0.596s quicker than Newey’s time. Will Palmer then set his personal best time to move into second, falling an agonising tenth of a second short of overhauling Ismail. The red-and-yellow car of Ismail went quicker once more however and opened up the gap to 0.210s, with a lap time of 1m49.147s.

With five minutes left on the clock, personal bests became rarer and soon the red flags were flying around the circuit, due to the stricken 23 Racing car of James Reveler. With two and a half minutes remaining, the chequered flag dropped to bring a premature end to qualifying and enable Omar Ismail to secure his maiden BRDC Formula 4 pole position, with Palmer second and Newey third.

Ismail made a good getaway at the start of race one and fended off the challenge of Palmer into Riches. Further back, Palmer’s team-mate Newey couldn’t hold on to his grid position of third and was relegated to fourth by Ismail’s team-mate Tom Jackson.

Behind the front four, a number of incidents occurred, with Sisa Ngebulana running into the side of Ciaran Haggerty, resulting in bodywork damage for the young Scot. Further ahead, the Lanan Racing pair of Chris Mealin and Jack Bartholomew both suffered damage, along with Fernando Urrutia who had started fifth. Bartholomew and Urrutia exited the race with terminal issues whilst Mealin resumed a few laps later.

Newey quickly regained his third position with a move on Jackson as Will Palmer began to close on to the back of the Chris Dittmann Racing machine of Omar Ismail, the gap being reduced to just 0.346s after four laps. The 18-year-old began looking for a way past but Ismail defended stoutly.

Tom Jackson in fourth suffered an unfortunate puncture which required a pit-stop, promoting others up the order. Jordan Albert moved into sixth, from 12th on the grid, and then managed to make his way past South African Sisa Ngebulana for fifth.

With two laps remaining, Ismail opened up his lead to over one second and Palmer was soon forced to glance in his mirrors, wary of the challenge of his HHC Motorsport team-mate Newey behind. The front three held station for the final tour and it was Ismail that saw the chequered flag first to secure his maiden BRDC Formula 4 triumph. The trophies were handed out to the trio by Lotus F1 Team Third and Reserve Driver Jolyon Palmer, with the 2014 GP2 Champion also receiving a painting on the podium to commemorate his title-winning season last year.

Speaking on the podium, Ismail said: “The race was a lot tougher than what I was hoping for. I was aiming to just pull away and build a gap but Will drove a really good race and kept the gap really close. I had to defend a number of times but I managed to hang on to the win. Luckily, Harri was catching Will up but I kept pushing as I know how quick those guys are. A massive thanks to (driver coach) Kieran Clark and the Chris Dittmann Racing team for providing such a great car.”

Other impressive drives in the field including 23 Racing’s James Reveler, who claimed his best finish of the season with 10th, and the debut pairing of Marc Gonzalez and Joe Stables who drove well to finish 11th and 13th respectively. Following the race, Sisa Ngebulana was handed a 30-second penalty for avoidable contact and was classified as finishing 15th.

Will Palmer now leads the championship standings on 222 points, 24 points clear of Lanan Racing’s Rodrigo Fonseca in second.

Akhil Rabindra, by virtue of his eighth place finish will start from pole in tomorrow’s second race and he will be joined on the front row by Ecurie Ecosse Young Driver Ciaran Haggerty.

Races two and three take place on Sunday beginning at 10:25am and 15:10pm respectively.

2015 Duo BRDC F4 Race One result, Snetterton

1. Omar Ismail, Chris Dittmann Racing, 10 Laps
2. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport, +1.351s
3. Harri Newey, HHC Motorsport, +1.872s
4. Michael O’Brien, Chris Dittmann Racing, +23.965s
5. Jordan Albert, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +25.782s
6. Rodrigo Fonseca, Lanan Racing, +42.473s
7. Ciaran Haggerty, Ecurie Ecosse/GBR, +42.933s
8. Akhil Rabindra, Douglas Motorsport, +44.020s
9. Faisal Al Zubair, Hillspeed, +44.848s
10. James Reveler, 23 Racing, +46.108s
11. Marc Gonzalez, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +48.181s
12. Ameya Vaidyanathan, Hillspeed, +48.679s
13. Joe Stables, JR Racing, +51.394s
14. Jack Lang, Lang Sport/Gorse Motors, +52.756s
15. Sisa Ngebulana, HHC Motorsport, +57.434s*
16. Tom Jackson, Chris Dittmann Racing, +1 Lap
DNF. Zubair Hoque, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +3 Laps
NC. Chris Mealin, Lanan Racing, +3 Laps
DNF. Fernando Urrutia, Douglas Motorsport, 0 Laps
DNF. Jack Bartholomew, Lanan Racing, 0 Laps

*Awarded a 30-second time penalty after the race

2015 Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship standings after race 10 of 24

1. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport, 222 points
2. Rodrigo Fonseca, Lanan Racing, 198 points
3. Chris Mealin, Lanan Racing, 162 points
=. Jordan Albert, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, 162 points
5. Tom Jackson, Chris Dittmann Racing, 157 points
6. Harri Newey, HHC Motorsport, 152 points
7. Jack Bartholomew, Lanan Racing, 141 points
8. Ciaran Haggerty, Ecurie Ecosse/GBR, 133 points
9. Michael O’Brien, Chris Dittmann Racing, 114 points
10. Zubair Hoque, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, 101 points
11. Akhil Rabindra, Douglas Motorsport, 97 points
12. Sisa Ngebulana, HHC Motorsport, 94 points
13. Sebastian Lanzetti, Hillspeed, 89 points
14. Fernando Urrutia, Douglas Motorsport, 86 points
15. Jack Lang, Lang Sport/Gorse Motors, 82 points
16. Ameya Vaidyanathan, Hillspeed, 78 points
17. Faisal Al Zubair, Hillspeed, 66 points
18. James Reveler, 23 Racing, 58 points
19. Omar Ismail, Chris Dittmann Racing, 55 points
20. Hernan Fallas, Mark Godwin Racing, 35 points
21. Paul Sieljes, Chris Dittmann Racing, 34 points
22. Marc Gonzalez, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, 10 points
23. Joe Stables, JR Racing, 8 points