MALONEY GRABS A CLEAN SWEEP AT OULTON PARK IN BRITISH F4
Zane Maloney took a clean sweep of victories in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost at Oulton Park, extending his winning run to seven races and giving the Carlin racer a 54-point advantage going into the summer break.
That performance also nets Maloney the £10,000 Ford Triple Crown Award for becoming the first driver in the Ford EcoBoost-powered series’ history to win all three races on a single weekend.
The Barbadian racer’s charge since taking his maiden win at Thruxton in May has been meteoric, with a points swing of over 100 points versus erstwhile leader and chief title rival Louis Foster (Double R Racing) in the process.
A lightning start in the opening contest gave Maloney a lead he would not relinquish, with the main battle behind for second between JHR Developments’ Josh Skelton and Arden Motorsport’s Bart Horsten.
Skelton would hold on despite a late challenge from the Australian, with Sebastian Alvarez, birthday boy Joe Turney and Foster rounding out the top six. With Foster therefore on reverse-grid pole, it looked as though Maloney’s record-breaking winning run was set to come to an end.
Foster made no mistake off the line, storming into a 2.5-second lead after chaos behind including Turney, Alvarez and Horsten, the trio going three abreast into Old Hall. Contact was made, sending Horsten into the barriers (though he remarkably continued) and Alvarez across the grass.
Carter Williams made his way through the melee to assume second, ahead of Maloney and a recovering Turney. Foster’s advantage was wiped out in cruel fashion, however, with a gear selection issue dropping him back into the clutches of the chasing pack.
Some opportunistic overtaking by Maloney and Turney into the Island Hairpin gave them the advantage, and they duly powered clear to register a first 1-2 finish of the season for Carlin, their first since rejoining the category this year.
Williams would take the final spot on the rostrum, with Foster a frustrated sixth having recovered to full speed later on in the race.
That left Maloney in the enviable position of chasing a third win of the weekend – a feat last managed by his driver coach and 2017 champion Jamie Caroline at Thruxton two seasons ago – but with a frustrated Skelton alongside after race two dramas and Turney and Horsten immediately behind, it was going to be far from easy to complete the hat-trick.
And so it proved to be. In front of ITV4’s television cameras and a capacity crowd in Cheshire, Ford’s rising stars delivered yet another thrilling show.
This time Skelton was able to keep pace with Maloney from the start and applied the pressure early on, but the battle was neutralised after two incidents on the opening lap.
First, Foster and Turney ran side-by-side through Lodge with the Double R car on the outside. Contact was made, pitching Turney up and across the front of Foster’s car, before heading straight on into the barriers.
Moments later, Roberto Faria lunged up the inside of Tommy Foster at the Island Hairpin and looked to have secured the place, but the two collided on exit and speared off into the inside barrier. Foster was able to continue, albeit with marshal assistance and a new front wing, Faria was out.
That required the intervention of the safety car, and once the race got back underway, Maloney and Skelton’s fight resumed.
A handful of fastest laps in succession brought Skelton to within half a second of Maloney, but his first victory remained elusive as Maloney held on to complete a historic weekend.
Alvarez registered Double R’s sole podium of the weekend in third after a quiet race, with local hero Luke Browning a weekend-best fourth after edging out a near dead-heat finish with Louis Foster.
Elsewhere there were solid points hauls for Horsten, Tommy Foster, Alex Connor and Mariano Martinez, whilst Williams did well to salvage eleventh after being forced wide at Old Hall in the final race.
Championship newcomer Alex Walker (JHR) also put in a standout performance on his debut weekend, registering a double points finish including eighth in the final race, which also meant a first visit to the Rookie Cup podium for the Bedford-based driver.
Reema Juffali (Double R) also added to her points total in Cheshire, showing yet again how far she has come since the season-opener.
The net result of all three races is a 54-point championship lead for Maloney, who also now sits 88 markers clear in the Rookie Cup stakes.
The chasing pack will look to strike back and halt his charge, however, when the F4 British Championship returns to action at Snetterton over the weekend of 3rd-4th August.
Zane Maloney said, “That was an unbelievable weekend; definitely the best weekend of my life. The team have been doing an incredible job all weekend.
“I know I keep saying that, but no-one will know just how much they have been doing for me. I also want to thank Kokoro Performance as well who are coaching me.
“We got £10,000 for the Ford Triple Crown award, three wins and many championship points and so I’m going home very happy!”