BRITISH F4 PREPARES FOR SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER AT OULTON PARK
With six different race winners and twelve podium finishers from the opening nine rounds, an enthralling title battle in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost is set to mark its next chapter at Oulton Park, Cheshire this weekend (31 Jul – 01 Aug).
The strength in depth of the competition amongst Ford’s rising stars has been arguably higher than ever before so far this season, but Fortec Motorsport’s James Hedley arrives with a 20-point lead in hand over closest rival Matthew Rees (JHR Developments).
Hedley’s early-season advantage has been gradually eroded by Rees over the last two events, first with a double victory at Snetterton and then by outscoring the BRDC Rising Star during an eventful trip to Brands Hatch last month.
A last-lap collision with Aiden Neate put Hedley out of the running in the reverse grid race, whilst Rees’ charge up ten positions netted him crucial ‘overtake points’, despite finishing second on the road to Hedley in a wet-dry-wet thriller the following day.
Rees out-scored Hedley again in Sunday’s finale – fourth and fifth at the flag respectively – to keep himself within striking distance at the 2.2-mile Cheshire circuit this time out.
Despite zoning in on Hedley in the outright stakes, Rees has been kept at arm’s length – just – by JHR teammate McKenzy Cresswell in the Rookie Cup so far, the gap between them still at a mere three points.
Cresswell has been one of the most consistent performers in the field to-date, with four podium finishes and points in all but one of his first nine contests in single seaters. A maiden pole position, breaking Rees’ dominant five-race streak, will also give the 15-year-old a further confident boost as he looks to build from third outright in the standings.
Phinsys by Argenti’s Matias Zagazeta took a well-received maiden victory in Kent last month to inject new life into his title bid, the Peruvian now fourth and looking to use that maiden triumph to kick on and close the deficit to the top three.
The same can be said for Abbi Pulling. After a difficult start to the campaign, the JHR racer took a much-needed podium brace at Brands, moving her up to sixth outright behind Fortec Motorsport’s Joel Granfors and on the comeback trail.
Granfors’ form is yet to hit the same heights as his pair of second-placed finishes at Thruxton, but the Swede is quietly accumulating points to keep himself in the equation at the sharp end of the standings.
Zak Taylor will be looking to back up his maiden win at Brands Hatch, Arden Motorsport’s first of the 2021 season, with another triumph. The Gloucestershire teenager is becoming something of a reverse-grid specialist, having scored a podium in each of the three thus far.
Just behind him is Oliver Gray in the final Fortec challenger. The Brit has shown serious pace across the opening three meetings and will be on a mission to validate that with his first silverware in Cheshire.
The top ten at this stage is rounded out by the final of JHR’s quartet of entries, Joseph Loake, and Carlin’s Kai Askey, who celebrated a first podium with third in the finale last time out.
Marcos Flack (Argenti) and Thomas Ikin (Arden) are next in 11th and 12th respectively, the pair separated by just three markers. Ikin added another outright podium to his tally behind Taylor to complete an Arden 1-2 in the reverse grid contest at Brands last time out, with the Brit’s attention now turning to a maiden victory of his own.
Dougie Bolger (Carlin) was oh-so-close to a first podium before losing out in a drag race to the chequered flag with Pulling in the Brands opener, but the Japanese racer has been chipping away at the gap and arrives at Oulton this weekend with every chance of finally taking that next step.
Roman Bilinski’s recent heroics in British F3 followed a season-best set of results last month, and the Polish racer will be aiming to use that momentum to give his title challenge a kick, having been among the favourites pre-season.
A hat-trick of retirements for Georgi Dimitrov in the sole Richardson Racing entry at Brands have dented his hopes, but the British-Bulgarian racer’s victory at Snetterton lives long in the memory, and he will be aiming for an immediate response.
Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak and Eduardo Coseteng have both troubled the top ten on a regular basis so far and sit one point apart, the runners completed by Aiden Neate after an impressive debut outing, and the ever-improving David Morales in the final of Arden’s ‘Red Arrows’.
The final race of the weekend at 14:00 (BST) on Sunday (01 Aug) will be broadcast live on ITV4.