Thruxton set to host pivotal weekend in British F4 title chase
The F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost heads back to Thruxton, Hampshire this weekend (28-29 August) for what could prove to be a pivotal weekend in this season’s title race.
Both championship leader Matthew Rees (JHR Developments) and chief rival James Hedley (Fortec Motorsport) will make the trip to the high-speed, 2.35-mile circuit in confident form, having secured a double pole position and brace of race victories respectively at the season opener there in May.
Rees currently leads the charge by five markers, having deposed Hedley on a nightmare trip to Knockhill last time out for the BRDC Rising Star, taking just a solitary point to Rees’ pair of podium finishes.
But Hedley’s form around Thruxton is intimidating for the competition, to say the least, the local hero having scored five wins, plus a further podium, from his six starts there in single seaters thus far.
However, three of those were for Rees’ JHR squad, often the ‘team to beat’ in Hampshire, and the 15-year-old has been nearly un-matched in qualifying trim, so bets are off as to which way the pendulum will swing between the pair this weekend.
Both will need to have one eye on the chasing pack behind, however, with a host of Ford-powered rising stars angling for a return to the championship picture.
Chief among those in Phinsys by Argenti’s Matias Zagazeta, the Peruvian winning twice in Scotland to re-ignite his title charge. Zagazeta’s composure under pressure has been impressive this term, a factor that usually comes into play around Thruxton on a circuit where slipstreaming – and overtaking – are arguably at their easiest of any venue on the calendar.
Rees’ JHR team-mate McKenzy Cresswell has been let down by his qualifying performance over the last two meetings, but on both occasions proved the race pace is there with two reverse grid wins.
Cresswell also has the Rookie Cup to think about, as well as his fourth position outright in the standings, and will be aiming to make a dent in Rees’ 36-point class advantage this time out.
Joel Granfors (Fortec Motorsport) made a welcome return to the rostrum in Fife, the Swede moving back into the top five overall. Granfors took a brace of silverware on his debut weekend in single seaters at Thruxton in May, and the repeat visit might be just what the 15-year-old needs to give his championship hopes another boost.
JHR Developments’ Joseph Loake sits a further five markers back in sixth, the Macclesfield-based racer returning to the scene of his wet-weather triumph over Cresswell earlier in the campaign, then the reigning Fiesta Junior champion’s maiden win.
Momentum is a key factor over a 10-event, 30-race calendar and, for a whole host of the series’ rising stars, Thruxton also marks a crucial opportunity to start re-invigorating their own respective bids to be crowned at the end of the current campaign.
Abbi Pulling (JHR) is one such driver. A maiden victory is definitely overdue, and long-since earned for the 18-year-old; but for the changeable weather conditions in May, arguably she would already have it. That will fuel her optimism ahead of her return to Hampshire, on a weekend that could make or break her title ambitions.
The ultra-consistent Ollie Gray (Fortec), Zak Taylor (Arden) and Kai Askey (Carlin) complete the top ten, the trio blanketed by a mere 8 points in the standings.
Taylor and Askey both secured a podium apiece in the reverse grid contest at Knockhill, whilst Gray, consistently up front, is still waiting for the luck to turn as he chases a first outright visit to the rostrum.
Dougie Bolger (Carlin) has enjoyed a real surge in form of late, the Japanese racer narrowly missing out on his first podium again in Scotland. More Rookie silverware will be some comfort, but the 15-year-old is continually knocking on the door for an overall podium – will this be the weekend he gets it?
With Roman Bilinski (Carlin) and Thomas Ikin (Arden) both absent, Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak (Carlin) effectively leads Argenti trio Eduardo Coseteng, Marcos Flack and Aiden Neate next in the standings.
Richardson Racing’s Georgi Dimitrov was forced to sit out the triple header in Fife with an injury, but the British-Bulgarian racer returns at Thruxton keen to get back to winning ways, his last trip to the top step having come at Snetterton in June.
Arden Motorsport’s David Morales rounds out the 17-car strong field, the US racer riding the crest of a wave after his first points in the category last time out.
Settle back and get ready for one of the category’s white-knuckle rides. Thruxton never disappoints – and in this case, it could have serious ramifications for the destiny of this season’s title fight.
Remember – Sunday’s action will be live on ITV4 in the UK at 14:55 on Sunday (29 August).