8 MAY, 2016 – Rounds eight and nine of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford will long be remembered as some of the most scintillating in the history of junior-single seater racing.
Neither race was short of drama or wheel-to-wheel action. Luis Leeds claimed the spoils in round eight for TRS Arden and the Red Bull Junior programme with a flawless performance.
Spectators were then treated to a five-way battle for victory in round nine. It demonstrated why the UK’s official FIA F4 championship is arguably the most entertaining in the world, as motorsport’s stars of future showcased exceptional racecraft with Devlin DeFrancesco emerging triumphant for Carlin.
ROUND 8: RED BULL JUNIOR DRIVER LEEDS GIVEN WINGS AS HE FLIES TO MAIDEN BRITISH F4 VICTORY
- TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds takes historic first victory for himself and the Red Bull Junior driver programme in British F4.
- Caroline, Monger and Schreiner also starred with phenomenal drives through the pack.
- Aryton Simmons records first Rookie class win on debut race weekend.
Luis Leeds finally broke his victory duck in scintillating fashion in round eight of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford. It was TRS Arden’s first victory of the season and the first for the esteemed Red Bull Junior driver programme in the series. In a dramatic race, Jamie Caroline came home second, followed closely by Billy Monger and Carrie Schreiner – all three drivers putting in inspired performances to battle through the field.
Leeds took no prisoners from third on the grid during the opening lap, pulling off a daring move around the outside of pole man Jack Butel, having quickly dispatched James Pull.
With a handful of second place finishes to his name already this season, Leeds was determined not to be the bridesmaid again and never looked like relinquishing the lead. He was able to build an advantage out in front at both times of asking following two safety car restarts as the drama unfolded behind him.
JHR’s Billy Monger astounded spectators, climbing from 18th to fifth in the opening laps and then benefitted from DeFrancesco and Butel’s collision to move up to third and claim his first British F4 podium. He chased home Jamie Caroline who himself scythed his way from tenth on the grid to second, avoiding the chaos and expertly defended from Monger and Carrie Schreiner in the closing stages.
As the three of them duked it out, it afforded Leeds more breathing room out front on his way to the chequered flag and a win that could prove pivotal to his championship challenge.
Said an emotional Leeds: “I knew it was going to be close at the start and I knew if I was able to brake later into the first corner I could go around the outside to take the lead and that’s what happened really. I then focused on putting in good laps to try to build a gap. It was a little frustrating as the safety car kept on wiping out my gap to the cars behind, but I was still able to control the race.
“I’ve been working so hard and full credit to Arden for setting up the car and turning things around after a difficult qualifying. I hope this is the first win of many. My goal is the championship this year and a win like this helps a lot.
“Dr Marko has given me this incredible opportunity to compete in this series and be part of the Red Bull Junior driver programme. I’m doing my best every day to repay his faith and try to win races. I’ve dedicated my whole year to this. I’ve left all my friends and family in Australia to pursue what I want I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s Mother’s day in Australia so I think this is the best present for my Mum back home.”
Commented Jamun Racing’s Caroline: “I’ve always been at good at starts and on cold tyres. I learnt that in karting, so I’ve always had the upper hand on people in this aspect. I have so much confidence in myself and the car. I’m always pushing the limits and although there’s times when it might not come off that’s just me and I’ll keep trying. I managed to fend of Billy towards the end. It was a lot of fun with the two of us battling just like we used to in karting. I’ve had two second places this season so the win is definitely the aim now.”
Added Monger: “At the second restart Jamie made a slight mistake which allowed me to really challenge him. From then onwards it was all about the battle for second and third. This is a fantastic result though from 18th. It was a chaotic race. There was so much action. I made up a few places at the start and then stayed out of trouble as others made mistakes around me. I made a few really bold overtakes on the outside through Goodwood. I had to try to attack Jamie and defend from Carrie at the same time towards the end. It was difficult, but I’m ecstatic with the end result.”
The first appearance of the safety car occurred just four laps in to enable the recovery of Nicolai Kjaergaard’s beached car on the exit of Church corner. Prior to which Quinn out-braked himself trying to defend from Jamie Caroline, sending him into the back of James Pull. Both lived to fight another day, but they came together merely a lap later. An incident which saw Quinn receive a five place grid penalty for round nine.
With the safety car back in the pits at the end of lap six the drama resumed instantly. Whilst Leeds once again wasted no time in breaking away from the field, Carlin’s Devlin DeFrancesco collided with JHR’s Jack Butel in almost a carbon copy of the incident that saw Max Fewtrell roll spectacularly out of round seven.
By lap seven Florescu had made his way up to third place, but a technical problem saw him fall through the field. It forced him to relinquish his championship lead as he nursed his Carlin home.
On the penultimate lap Zane Goddard found a way past fellow Aussie Harry Hayek to claim fifth behind Double R team-mate Carrie Schreiner, by far the best result of the season for the Double R team. It was an exceptional performance from both drivers, with Zane climbing up from the last row of the grid and Schreiner from 13th.
Said Schreiner: “I was a bit lucky with other cars crashing out. It was a fun race and whenever I saw the chance to overtake someone I took it. In the last two laps third was a possibility, but I didn’t want to risk the fourth place finish. I’m really proud of this result.”
Having been overtaken by Goddard, Hayek was immediately in the firing line. Max Fewtrell was seeking redemption after yesterday’s DNF and fellow championship contender Sennan Fielding was also in maximum attack mode on the final lap. However, the trio came to grief at the Club chicane, Fielding miraculously maintaining momentum to finish sixth and Hayek in 12th.
It was a landmark race for Ayrton Simmons. In only his second competitive British F4 outing he finished inside the points and took a fantastic Rookie class win following team-mate Jack Martin’s exclusion from the results for an incident during the safety car period.
ROUND 9: DEFRANCESCO TRIUMPHS IN FIVE-WAY BRITISH F4 THRILLER
- Devlin DeFrancesco takes memorable maiden victory
- Super-close racing and a masterclass in wheel-to-wheel racing cements the Ford EcoBoost-powered series’ standing as the world’s toughest FIA F4 championship to win.
Round nine of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford will live long in the memory; with a five-way battle for the lead and wheel-to-wheel action throughout the field. It was Carlin’s Devlin DeFrancesco who triumphed, taking a popular victory ahead of Billy Monger, Max Fewtrell, James Pull and Sennan Fielding. The quintet’s battle for glory provided a spectacle which firmly puts British F4 on the map as arguably the most entertaining single-seater series in the world.
The start was all about Petru Florescu who leapt away from pole with JHR’s Fielding in his wheel tracks, getting the jump on Fewtrell to move into second. Fewtrell responded a lap later in tandem with Carlin team-mate DeFrancesco, as both drivers dived down the outside of Fielding along the back straight.
With the bit between his teeth DeFrancesco then proceeded to blast past Fewtrell on the subsequent lap and apply serious pressure to Florescu with the lead now firmly in his sights. It immediately took its toll on the Romanian, who made an uncharacteristic mistake by taking too much kerb on the exit of Club to see not only DeFrancesco, but also Fielding and Fewtrell go by.
The situation deteriorated further two laps later for the race one winner. A spin sending him down to ninth immediately after DeFrancesco out-braked himself into the final chicane allowing Fielding to take the lead.
The Canadian made amends the following lap, judging his braking perfectly into the same chicane to retake control at the head of the field. The battle at the front was soon joined Monger and Pull who closed up to Fielding and Fewtrell. It set up a captivating five-way showdown for the win and a masterclass in wheel-to-wheel racing as the quintet jockeyed for position lap after lap.
The highlight of which taking place on the penultimate lap, as DeFrancesco found his mirrors full of the JHR pairing of Fielding and Monger, as well as team-mate Fewtrell. The three drivers were three abreast across the pit straight and it was Monger who seized the initiative. He dared to brake latest into turn one to take second, with Fewtrell squeezing past Fielding, who moments later succumbed to Pull’s attack.
A jubilant DeFrancesco stated: “It feels unbelievable to get this win. What a race! What a fight at the front! There was so much respect amongst all the drivers, with good overtaking and clean moves. I cannot wait for what the rest of the season has in store. There were so many touch-and-go moments out on track and the key was just trying to keep focused.”
Said second place man Monger: “It’s not the top step, but we’re getting closer. I’m not here to make up the numbers. I wanted to prove to people that I deserve to be here and I think I have done that this weekend. We’ve had two podiums this weekend and I want to take this momentum into Oulton Park and get my first win. There was so much respect out there between all the drivers. It enabled such close racing. I think it’s the best racing in Europe and that’s why this is such a highly rated championship.
Whilst Fewtrell was in a philosophical mood after his Thruxton trials and tribulations: “To grab a podium after a really tough weekend and the big incidents in races one and two is a good confidence booster. I hung in there and kept going. I think that last race wasn’t really about pace because of the slipstream effect around here. It’s all about using that slipstream to your advantage and timing moves to perfection which is what I tried to do.”
Messrs Luis Leeds, Alex Quinn and Zane Goddard added further drama with a fantastic tussle for sixth. Quinn and Goddard went either side of Leeds as they hit the pit straight at the end of lap five leaving the crowd speechless; swallowing up his TRS Arden prepared racer following his slow exit from Club.
Race two victor Leeds responded by battling past Quinn as the race progressed and set-up a Ford EcoBoost-powered drag race for the finish line with compatriot Zane Goddard. The two drivers were separated by less than six hundredths of a second, while Quinn’s eighth place was enough to see him record an impressive sixth Rookie class win of the year.
Commented Quinn: “It could have been a lot better this weekend. We were a bit unfortunate, but I’m already looking forward to Oulton Park. It was really tough battling with Luis and Zane. We all drove really well and it was such a tough race. It just demonstrates how competitive British F4 is.”
Added Goddard: “I didn’t get the start I would have liked, but I came through and somehow got past Luis on the outside. At the last corner I locked up and the rear stepped out on me. I was just able to hold it together. It was such a close finish and it’s nice to get the Aussie bragging rights over Luis on this occasion.”
Patrik Matthiesen once again held on valiantly to finish in the last points paying position for JTR, just as he had in race two.
Meanwhile, a collision between Jack Butel and Rafael Martins in the closing stages left the former at the back of the field and brought an end to Martins’ race. A frustrating finish to a weekend that promised so much for both drivers, after strong showings in testing and Butel’s pole position start in the race two.
There was also disappointment for Jamie Caroline whose race was fated before the lights went out due to contact on the lap to the grid. He elected to start from the pit lane, giving his Jamun team the chance to repair a damaged front wing, but their efforts were in vain as Caroline was forced to retire with the wing hanging precariously from the nose of his car.
Despite both missing out on the podium in round nine, it is Fielding and Leeds who leave Thruxton tied at the top of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford standings. Carlin’s Fewtrell, Florescu and Pull lie within touching distance of the joint leaders however and as this weekend has proved there are sure to be plenty more surprises at Oulton Park in four weeks’ time.
F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford
Provisional results Round 8, Thruxton 8 May, 2016
12 laps / 28.27 miles
1 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 20m 06.547s / 84.35mph
2 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun +2.683s
3 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR +3.073s
4 Carrie SCHREINER / GER / Double R +3.325s
5 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R +4.722s
6 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +9.784s
7 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +9.261s
8 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden +9.920s
9 Ross MARTIN / GBR / Fortec +9.940s
10 Patrik MATTHIESEN / DEN / JTR +23.130s etc
Fastest lap Fielding 1m 15.304s / 112.63mph
Rookie class 1 Simmons ; 2 R Martin; 3 Quinn
Provisional results Round 9, Thruxton 8 May, 2016
16 laps / 37.69 miles
1 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin 20m 16.559s / 111.54mph
2 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR +1.476s
3 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin +1.659s
4 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +1.929s
5 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +2.187s
6 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R +4.366s
7 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden +4.420s
8 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec +5.818s
9 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin +6.910s
10 Patrik MATTHIESEN / DEN / JTR +7.095s etc
Fastest lap DeFrancesco 1m 14.713s / 113.52mph
Rookie class 1 Quinn; 2 R Martin; 3 J Martin; 4 Kjaergaard; 5 Simmons
Provisional championship standings
=1 Fielding 109 points; =1 Leeds 109 points; 3 Fewtrell 104; 4 Florescu 103; 5 Pull 95; 6 Quinn 71; 7 Caroline 65; 8 DeFrancesco 60; 9 Monger 47; 10 Martins 45 etc
Rookie Class 1 Quinn 201; 2 R Martin 130; 3 J Martin 112; 4 Kjaergaard 84; 5 Simmons 50