British F4 Esports Championship, Round 1: Mutch and Gilbert win as Poulain takes early points lead
The opening round of the 2023 British F4 Esports Championship saw action aplenty as Gordie Mutch and Remy Gilbert claimed victory, with Josh Poulain securing two podium finishes to lead the championship.
The British F4 Esports Championship returns for 2023 and it’s bigger than ever, with a grid stacked with real-world and virtual talent.
Stormforce Racing ART’s Luke McKeown was arguably the title favourite heading into Round 1, yet the defending champion faced a tough opening round at Brands Hatch Indy after two non-scores.
Instead, two newcomers to the series took top honours, with JHR by 29 eSports’ Gordie Mutch and Remy Gilbert of debutant esports behemoth Guild Esports sharing the honours.
Indeed, a high rate of attrition throughout the field took out several fancied drivers, with the likes of Race 1 pole position winner Josh Lad also enduring a pointless first round.
Through the wreckage came FreeM UK’s Josh Poulain, who notched up consecutive podium finishes to lead the standings heading into Round 2 at Donington Park’s National layout in a week’s time.
Lad led the way at the start of Race 1, with team-mates Peter Berryman and Luke McKeown in close contention. Gordie Mutch maintained a watching brief in fourth.
The leading group were nose-to-tail for much of the race, engaging in a cagey slipstreaming battle around the tight confines of Brands Hatch’s Indy circuit, with several drivers falling by the wayside after contact further back.
With around three-quarters of the race gone, Matt Caruana ran into the back of Berryman, sending the Northern Irishman into a spin. He re-joined neatly and recovered to ninth position by the race’s conclusion, however, minimising his points loss. This moved Mutch up the order; the Scotsman now right in the thick of the lead battle between Lad and McKeown.
Further back, Poulain quietly moved up the standings before unleashing his inner Yvan Muller with a delicious double overtake on Caruana and Moreno Sirica at Paddock Hill Bend – the Englishman moving from sixth to fourth in one fell swoop.
With only a few laps left, the race reached a controversial crescendo as McKeown launched an ambitious move down the inside at Paddock, climbing over the gearbox of Lad, ending both their chances of a win. Lad continued, albeit without any rear aero, but couldn’t hang on for points and finished outside the top 10.
The big beneficiary was Mutch, who held off the advances of Sirica and Poulain to take victory on his series debut.
Race 2 was to be a randomly-drawn reverse grid affair, with Remy Gilbert gifted pole position. Race 1 winner Mutch started down in eighth.
Guild Esports’ Remy Gilbert had a lively opening race, tagging SimRace Sweden eSports’ Isak Arvidsson into retirement in the initial stages, before working his way to a solid points finish.
Josh Poulain started sixth but boldly moved up to fourth on lap one, which quickly became third after he made a move on Ryan Micallef. Gilbert lost the lead to Veloce Vext’s Matt Emery and then dropped to third behind Poulain shortly after, showcasing Poulain’s race craft once again.
Poulain’s luck ran out with around eight minutes left on the clock, however, as he launched a move down the inside of Emery at Turn 1. Gilbert read the road ahead brilliantly and swept down the inside of both before the Druids hairpin. A watching Berryman also capitalised, slotting into second with some opportunistic driving. Poulain had gained one spot but lost two in two corners.
Micallef tagged the rear of Emery soon after, causing a chain reaction that would eliminate Josh Lad once again, causing damage to several other FIA F4 cars. Luke McKeown also fell by the wayside earlier in the race, capping off a disastrous start to his title defence.
Special mention must be made to Ted Bradbury, however, who started all the way down in 29th position. The Altus Esports driver made the most of the Race 2 carnage to climb all the way up to sixth at the finish.
Up front, despite a pulsatingly close battle, the front three raced respectfully to the chequered flag, neither Berryman nor Poulain able to wrest victory from the hands of Gilbert. The win was Guild Esports’ first in sim racing; a feat the team would like to emulate more throughout the season.
And Gilbert also enjoys being right in the thick of the championship battle, lying just one point behind the ultra-consistent Poulain in the driver standings, with Gordie Mutch and Peter Berryman in third and fourth respectively.
In the team standings, Poulain’s FreeM outfit lead after Round 1, enjoying to a two-point gap over Guild.
UK FF1600 Esports Cup, Round 1
The UK FF1600 Esports Cup is a new support category for the headline British F4 Esports Championship and sees 26 qualifiers go head-to-head using iRacing’s Ray FF1600 car.
And the action was as close as you’d expect from a de facto Formula Ford race, with pole-sitter Henry Moore taking victory in Race 1 by the narrowest of margins – 0.012s – from Siro Zambra.
In Race 2, another keenly contested race saw Dan Amor emerge victorious, with Moore recovering to snatch the final podium position, just behind Jason Cooper. The result leaves Henry Moore and Dan Amor with a handy gap over their championship rivals heading into Round 2 next week.
British F4 Esports Championship, Round 1 Brands Hatch Indy Race 1 results
- Gordie Mutch, JHR by 29 eSports
- Moreno Sirica, WIlliams Esports, +0.286s
- Josh Poulain, FreeM UK, + 1.018s
- Lucas Müller, Dörr Esports, +3.914s
- Tomas Simon, Veloce Vext, +4.066s
British F4 Esports Championship, Round 1 Brands Hatch Indy Race 2 results
- Remy Gilbert, GUILD Racing,
- Peter Berryman, Stormforce Racing ART, +0.065s
- Josh Poulain, FreeM UK, +0.294s
- Alexander Davidson, Puresims Esports, +4.325s
- Matt J Caruana, Kimura Racing, +4.346s
British F4 Esports Championship, driver standings after Round 1
- Josh Poulain, FreeM UK, 30 points
- Remy Gilbert, GUILD Racing, 29 points
- Gordie Mutch, JHR by 29 eSports, 26 points
- Peter Berryman, Stormforce Racing ART, 21 points
- Moreno Sirica, Williams Esports, 18 points
- Alexander Davidson, Puresims Esports, 12 points
- Lucas Müller, Dörr Esports, 12 points
- Matt J Caruana, Kimura Racing, 10 points
- Tamas Simon, VELOCE VEXT, 10 points
- Ryan Micallef, Kimura Racing, 8 points
British F4 Esports Championship, team standings after Round 1
- FreeM UK, 31 points
- GUILD Racing, 29 points
- JHR by 29 eSports, 26 points
- Stormforce Racing ART, 21 points
- Williams Esports, 18 points
This article originally appeared on traxion.gg.