CROFT 19 JUNE, 2016 – The F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford title battle rolled onto Croft circuit in North Yorkshire and an array of motorsport’s brightest single-seater talents provided yet another fantastic spectacle for fans.
Round 15 was a TRS Arden and Aussie affair as Luis Leeds put in a masterful drive to claim both his and the Red Bull Junior driver programme’s second victory in the F4 British Championship. Jack Martin claimed top Rookie class honours for the second time of the weekend, only adding further excitement to the post-race TRS Arden celebrations. Whilst Zane Goddard followed his compatriot Leeds home to add valuable points to his tally for the season.
Drivers were put to the test in worsening conditions as the track became increasingly slippery during Round 14. The Ford EcoBoost-powered stars rose to the challenge with aplomb however, providing plenty of entertainment in the rain-hit finale to the weekend. It was Devlin DeFrancesco who emerged triumphant to claw back precious points in the standings.
In a bumper weekend for British F4’s leading Australian lights, namely Zane Goddard with a victory and two second places to his name, it is Carlin’s Max Fewtrell who will head into the summer break with the biggest smile. A trio of third place finishes combined with exceptionally consistent top-level driving have enabled him to regain the lead in the championship. It gives the Carlin racer a psychological advantage which could make all the difference in a title battle that will be so finely poised when action resumes in six weeks’ time.
ROUND 14: RED BULL JUNIOR LUIS LEEDS HEADS THE TRS ARDEN CHARGE TO BRITISH F4 VICTORY
- Red Bull Junior Luis Leeds soaks up pressure from Zane Goddard to take masterful win for TRS Arden.
- Chaotic first lap as front row starters Caroline and DeFrancesco crash out.
Luis Leeds was calm and composed out front to take a brilliant win for TRS Arden in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford. His second of the season and a huge shot in the arm for the Red Bull Junior driver’s title hopes. He took the chequered flag from this weekend’s form man Zane Goddard. Max Fewtrell crossed the line third, putting in yet another assured performance for Carlin to retake the lead in the standings.
There were fireworks on the opening lap. In a rare occurrence this season, customary fast starter Jamie Caroline struggled off the line from pole, whilst Devlin DeFrancesco flew from second.
Caroline kept DeFrancesco on his outside into turn one, but the Canadian bravely hung on to emerge out of Clervaux in the lead. It all ended in tears though as Caroline dived down the inside of DeFrancesco at Sunny – the two drivers colliding.
There was more contact further down the order as Alex Quinn and Frank Bird came together. It brought an unfortunate end to both of their races.
The safety car was swiftly deployed following the opening lap incidents and it was Luis Leeds who found himself at the front of the pack.
After several laps behind the safety car the Ford EcoBoost stars were unleased and as the race progressed Leeds came under pressure for compatriot Goddard, who pumped in a series of fastest laps on the hunt for his second win. Leeds was having none of it though. He responded brilliantly as Goddard upped the ante, able to match his pace and control the remainder of the race.
Said a jubilant Leeds: “It was a really interesting race with what happened at the start. I had to avoid the contact and tried to maintain my gap to Zane. I tried to pull out a gap in the first two laps and knew from there I could control the pace and save the tyres a bit for the last race.
“I thought I had a really big gap to Zane, but I didn’t. Zane is really quick around this track and you cannot underestimate that. He’s a fast driver.
“Full credit to Arden though. We had a tough time at Oulton Park so to turn it around is really positive. I’m finally back up there in the championship standings and now the plan is to keep this up.”
Added Double R’s Goddard: “I’m happy to be on the podium again with second. I got a really good launch to get past Fewtrell. It was unfortunate what happened to Devlin and Jamie. Luis was quick, but I tried to close the gap. I think we did the best we could with the car. I’m looking forward to the final race of the weekend where I hope to get the win from pole.”
Max Fewtrell was another driver who was all smiles after the race despite losing out to Goddard at the start. His second podium of the weekend enabling him to regain the lead in the championship. Fewtrell once again exhibiting the kind of metronomic consistency that will no doubt pay dividends in the title race.
Commented Fewtrell: “With it being a reverse grid race I knew there would be some chaos and I just made sure I was able to capitalise on that. The pace was really good in the middle of the race and towards the end I just relaxed a bit to bring home third.
“I’ll be looking to keep increasing my lead in the championship from here on out to ease the pressure. To be in the lead now is really good.”
It was a strong race for TRS Arden who have shown strong pace throughout the weekend. Rafael Martins followed up team-mate Leeds’s victory with an excellent fourth place and at times was inches away from working his magic to find a way past Fewtrell.
Young Racing Driver Academy members Jack Martin and Ayrton Simmons capped off TRS Arden’s top performance, locking out the top two places on the Rookie class podium; whilst Nicolai Kjaergaard provided consolation for Fortec Motorsports with third in the Rookie class.
“It’s good to get another Rookie class win this weekend”, said Martin. “I made a mistake which let Fielding through and that cost me sixth, but it was still a good race and I got decent championship points in seventh so I’m pretty happy.
“This circuit is very technical and that’s where I seem to be stronger than a lot of other drivers. I can get consistent lap times around a circuit like this and that allows me to battle at the front.”
Said TRS Arden team manager Ben Bloomfield: “We will take that result. That’s more points in the bag and another win under Luis’ belt. He’s back in the fight so watch this space.
“Jack is still very inexperienced and you can sometimes see that when he races against more experienced drivers, but he’s learning all the time and he’s got pace. It won’t be long until he’s really making his own mark. I’m pleased with his performance and I’m pleased with Ayrton too.”
TRS Arden team principal Garry Horner echoed Bloomfield’s sentiments: “I’m delighted to see Luis get another win. We’ve got good pace and the guys in the team have done a great job.”
Key title contenders Sennan Fielding and Petru Florescu proved their mettle by battling back through the field from 14th and 15th on the grid. Fielding sneaking past Martin for sixth down the main straight with three laps remaining.
Meanwhile Florescu’s drive through the field demonstrated that the Romanian was not going to let the championship lead slip from his grasp easily.
ROUND 15: FEARLESS DEFRANCESCO DOMINATES IN THE RAIN AT CROFT
- Carlin’s DeFrancesco superb in difficult conditions.
- Zane Goddard rounds off excellent weekend for Double R Racing.
- Max Fewtrell extends his lead in the championship.
- Fortec Motorsports’ Alex Quinn returns to top step of Rookie class podium.
Carlin’s Devlin DeFrancesco stormed his way to the third F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford victory of his career courtesy of a jaw-dropping move around the outside of Zane Goddard at Sunny on the opening lap. With a clear track ahead of him DeFrancesco pulled away from the field. The Canadian never put a foot wrong with an inch-perfect drive to the chequered flag; despite the inclement weather which had set in over the 2.125-mile North Yorkshire circuit.
Said the three-time race winner DeFrancesco: “In race two we were incredibly unlucky, but we came back strong in race three. I thought the start was going to be the key to everything and Zane made a really good start.
“I felt I had a lot of grip under me and a lot of confidence in the car. I braked a little later than I normally would into the corner and Zane braked a little earlier so happy days.
“Then I just kept focusing on myself and my inputs every lap, getting the gears right and going quicker and quicker.”
Although he lost the lead on the first lap, Double R’s Zane Goddard was still ecstatic after the race. Another second place to his name and yet another fastest lap. Goddard leaves Croft having scored more points than any other driver this weekend; the Australian clearly building upon his prodigious testing form at the circuit.
Commented Goddard: “I’m happy with second. The race was really good fun. I loved it out there. It was awesome being able to slide around a bit. I got a good start, but I didn’t really know where the grip was and I didn’t want to risk too much.
“Devlin did really well out front, but I thought I would push for fastest lap even if I couldn’t get the win. It’s been a great weekend with a first and two seconds so no complaints from me.
“For the first time this season I went into the races aiming for a podium and even the top step instead of top five. We achieved that so it’s a definite confidence boost. The team and I have made a step forward this weekend. The team have done a great job. I cannot fault the car.”
Max Fewtrell once again found himself on the podium and with it extended his newfound lead in the championship to 20 points from Carlin team-mate Petru Florescu. Fewtrell executed a race devoid of mistakes, his consistency and speed making him a formidable competitor on the track and in the standings.
Fourth place man and Rookie class winner Alex Quinn was all smiles, finally having a race where he was able to avoid mid-pack skirmishes. The Racing Steps Foundation driver made a great start in his Fortec Motorsports prepared racer and looked rock solid in the tricky wet conditions.
Explained Quinn: “This weekend has been really mixed. Two of the races didn’t go to plan and were taken out of our hands. I went into this race knowing I had to come out of strongly and I did that.
“It was difficult to get close to the car in front because it was so hard to see anything with all the spray. We’re definitely in a more positive place than we were after the second race.
“We showed that we can push the guys currently leading the championship. I’m looking forward to hitting back at Snetterton and having a good second half of the season.”
Jamie Caroline made what appeared to be yet another storming start from 14th on the grid, but all was not quite as it seemed. The Pirtek Racing backed star cutting the chicane on the opening lap. It earned him a 10.5s time penalty in the process which saw him fall back in the classification from fifth to eighth.
Behind him in the top 10 came championship contenders Petru Florescu and Round 14 winner Luis Leeds. Both were unable to make major inroads towards the front of the field in the rain.
Fellow championship protagonists Sennan Fielding (JHR Developments) and James Pull (Carlin) fared much better, showcasing their talent in the wet. The former gaining three places at the start and latter climbing five places, expertly scything his way through the field.
Nicolai Kjaergaard once again caught the eye for Fortec Motorsports, brilliantly finding a way past TRS Arden’s Ayrton Simmons and Jack Martin during the race.
F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford
Provisional results Round 14 Croft 19 June 2016
13 laps / 27.625 miles
1 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 20m 28.615s / 80.94mph
2 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R +0.547s
3 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin +2.072s
4 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden +2.955s
5 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +5.262s
6 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +6.789s
7 Jack MARTIN / GBR / Arden 1:21.131 +7.266s
8 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin +9.128s
9 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden +10.827s
10 Nicolai KJAERGAARD / DEN / Fortec + 13.402s etc.
Fastest lap Zane Goddard 1m 21.935s / 93.36mph
Rookie class 1 Martin, 2 Simmons, 3 Kjaergaard
Provisional results Round 15 Croft 19 June 2016
13 laps / 21.25 miles
1 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin 15m 54.569s / 80.14mph
2 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R +3.496s
3 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin +7.158s
4 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec +8.390s
5 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +14.893s
6 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +15.337s
7 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden +19.287s
8 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Fortec +19.785s
9 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin +20.130s
10 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden +23.223s
Fastest lap Zane Goddard 1m 30.435s / 84.59mph
Rookie class 1 Quinn, 2 Kjaergaard, 3 Martin, 4 Simmons
Provisional championship standings
1 Fewtrell 184, 2 Florescu 164, 3 Pull 153, 4 Leeds 152, 5 DeFrancesco 146, 6 Fielding 134, 7 Quinn 112, 8 Martins 110, 9 Caroline 109, 10 Goddard 102 etc.
1 Quinn 276, 2 J. Martin 228, 3 Kjaergaard 169, 4 Simmons 143, 5 R. Martin 130