British F4 Esports Championship Round 5: Mutch stars in Race 2 recovery drive
JHR by 29 eSports’ Gordie Mutch put in a sterling performance in Round 5 at Silverstone GP, helping maintain pressure on championship leader Peter Berryman.
This also meant the team moved 67 points clear of JHR by 29 eSports in the Teams’ championship, with Gordie Mutch emerging as Berryman’s closest Drivers’ championship challenger thanks to a brace of second places at the Cheshire venue.
Mutch was ably backed up by team-mate Stanley Deslandes, whose recent upturn in form also led to a pair of podiums at Oulton, with all four drivers avoiding incidents in a rather rambunctious affair.
Although Berryman headed into the second half of the season with a comfortable 29-point gap at the top, McKeown’s results have improved remarkably after bad luck in the opening rounds, making the defending champion a genuine title contender once again.
The wide-open expanses of Silverstone’s GP circuit should come as great relief to the British F4 Esports field after the tight confines of Oulton Park, but would results go the way of Stormforce Racing ART once again?
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Stormforce Racing locked out the front row in qualifying, with McKeown heading Berryman by just two-hundredths of a second. Just behind was the JHR by 29 eSports squad, with Mutch shading Deslandes to start third.
After a measured start, the front four worked together to build a gap to the chasing pack. Mensah Racing’s Elliot Pugh led the six-car peloton from fifth, holding off Ted Bradbury, Moreno Sirica and early championship leader – and FreeM UK driver – Josh Poulain. Contact in the pack allowed Pugh and Bradbury to make a break, with Bradbury eventually coming out on top.
Those hoping for a titanic battle from the top four in the final laps would be sorely disappointed, however, as positions remained static to the chequered flag. Berryman and Mutch appeared to time their attacks too late as McKeown drove confidently to take his third win of the campaign, making slight inroads on Berryman’s championship lead as a result.
Although Elliot Pugh lost out to Ted Bradbury for fifth in Race 1, he did manage to secure the reverse grid pole position for Race 2; no doubt eager to hold off the dominant performers from Race 1.
Pugh made a rapid getaway with Deslandes pressuring Bradbury for second. The Altus Esports driver also had to hold off the advances of Mutch, Berryman and McKeown close behind, all eager to prevent Pugh from building an insurmountable lead.
However, it didn’t take long before Deslandes scythed down the inside of Bradbury at Stowe, with team-mate Mutch capitalising in opportunistic fashion.
Deslandes, playing the team game, allowed Mutch into second, giving chase to Pugh ahead. Controversially, though, Pugh shoulder-barged Mutch off-track at Stowe, causing a slow-down penalty for the championship contender. Mutch tumbled down to eighth as a result and was seemingly out of contention for the win…
Bradbury, meanwhile, was mixing it with the dominant Stromforce Racing drivers and Deslandes, heroically fighting them off to consolidate second position. He dropped to third, however, after Berryman snuck through at the round’s favourite overtaking spot, Stowe, and set after Pugh.
Berryman launched attack after attack on the leader but Pugh was resolute in his defence, with Bradbury doing his best to join in as McKeown, Veloce VEXT’s Matt Emery and the recovering Mutch followed close behind.
In a pulsating final lap, Berryman boldly out-braked Pugh around the outside into Turn 2, and as the pair ran wide at Turn 3 Mutch snuck through into the lead, closely followed by McKeown.
Mutch held on to take the chequered flag ahead of McKeown, with Pugh’s defences holding out long enough to deny Berryman another podium and reduce the championship leader’s advantage in the standings.
“I just bided my time and an opportunity opened up,” said an elated Mutch post-race.
“I felt that Elliot’s defending was totally over-aggressive… but you need to get your head back in the game and put yourself back into a good position again because as soon as you’re dwelling on what’s just happened, that’s the point where you’re going to have an incident,” he said, commenting on his lively lead battle with Elliot Pugh.
Berryman still holds the championship lead heading into Round 6 at Knockhill, but with both Gordie Mutch and Luke McKeown hitting a purple patch of form the championship battle is becoming more intense.
Can Mutch make home advantage count as the British F4 Esports Championship heads to Fife? Find out next Wednesday in the live broadcast on RaceSpot TV’s YouTube channel.
UK FF1600 Esports Cup, Round 5
Henry Moore remained the man to beat in the UK FF1600 Esports Cup from Oulton Park, notching up a win and a second place after main rival Dan Amor faltered in the reverse-grid race.
Just like in Round 4, Amor took pole position ahead of Moore for Race 1, teeing up a close battle for race victory. Amor made the best start and led Moore into Turn 1, but the championship leader slipstreamed past on the long run to Stowe.
Amor elected to follow Moore for the remainder of the race and only drafted himself into the lead on the penultimate lap, with Jason Cooper and Ronnie Smith in close contention throughout.
Cooper led briefly before the top four descended on Stowe for the final time, Amor sensibly backing off as the top three collided. This left Amor to take a well-judged victory as Franek Sikorski came through the melee for a surprise second-place finish. It was damage limitation for Moore, however, as he skilfully recovered to third.
The reverse grid draw for Race 2 saw Amor start from eighth position, with Jordan Groves and Brandon Lowden first and second respectively.
Henry Moore narrowly avoided disaster on lap one after contact with Sikorski and was able to move up through the field with Amor in tow. Moore despatched Lowden and Groves in short order for second position, with Amor shadowing him all the way.
Jason Cooper led but he was quickly usurped by Moore before a half-spin allowed the chasing Amor into second. The dominant pair headed onto the final lap nose-to-tail and, in a dramatic sequence of corners filled with well-judged side-by-side action, Moore held off Amor by just 0.015s across the line.
Moore still holds a commanding lead in the championship, however, but Amor’s form should be a great fillip to his championship hopes as the FF1600 Esports Cup heads to Knockhill for Round 6 next week.
British F4 Esports Championship, Round 5 Silverstone GP Race 1 results
- Luke McKeown, Stormforce Racing ART
- Peter Berryman, Stormforce Racing ART, +0.158s
- Gordie Mutch, JHR by 29 eSports, +0.265s
- Stanley Deslandes, JHR by 29 eSports, +0.754s
- Ted Bradbury, Altus Esports +6.369s
British F4 Esports Championship, Round 5 Silverstone GP Race 2 results
- Gordie Mutch, JHR by 29 eSports
- Luke McKeown, Stormforce Racing ART, +0.215s
- Elliot Pugh, Mensah Racing, +1.036s
- Peter Berryman, Stormforce Racing ART, +1.473s
- Matt Emery, Veloce VEXT, +1.562s
Driver standings after Round 5
- Peter Berryman, Stormforce Racing ART, 157 points
- Gordie Mutch, JHR by 29 eSport, 139 points
- Luke McKeown, Stormforce Racing ART, 132 points
- Matt J Caruana, Kimura Racing, 85 points
- Remy Gilbert, GUILD Racing, 67 points
- Stanley Deslandes, JHR by 29 eSports, 63 points
- Moreno Sirica, Williams Esports, 57 points
- Josh Poulain, FreeM UK, 50 points
- Lucas Müller, Dörr Esports, 47 points
- Josh Lad, Williams Esports, 46 points
Team standings after Round 5
- Stormforce Racing ART, 289 points
- JHR by 29 eSports, 202 points
- Williams Esports, 103 points
- Kimura Racing, 88 points
- GUILD Racing, 67 points
Calendar: British F4 Esports Championship 2023
Media Day, Silverstone National, 20th September Round 1, Brands Hatch Indy, 27th September Round 2, Donington National, 4th October Round 3, Snetterton 300, 11th October Round 4, Oulton Park International, 25th October Round 5, Silverstone GP, 8th November
Round 6, Knockhill, 15th November
Round 7, Donington GP, 22nd November
Round 8, Brands Hatch GP, 29th November
Images courtesy of Rhys Caryl / RC Sim Photography.