Championship battle narrows on action-packed night at Silverstone
First-time winner Ted Bradbury and Peter Berryman shared the spoils as Silverstone marked a late twist in the ROKiT British F4 Esports Championship title race.
Two action-packed, 30-minute races around the world-famous circuit’s National layout mean it will be a three-way shootout for both the Team and Drivers’ titles at Brands Hatch live on iRacing’s YouTube channel next Friday (2 December).
To set the tone for what would be a typically hard-fought evening of competition, it was Apex Racing Team ace Berryman on pole, a slender 0.035 seconds clear of championship leader, Luke McKeown (Apex Academy).
Race 1: Berryman’s championship hopes boosted with victory
Despite falling to second at the start after an audacious triple pass on the brakes into Brooklands from Bradbury propelled him from fourth to the lead on the opening lap, Berryman kept his composure.
He seized his chance to return the favour at the same corner, two laps later, and from there led a three-car breakaway group at the front, with Bradbury and points leader McKeown for close company.
With slipstream such a vital element of being competitive around Silverstone’s National circuit, the trio opted to put their team divides aside and work together. Until the closing laps, that is.
With five minutes on the clock, Bradbury broke the stalemate with a bold move to the inside at Becketts. That earned him the race lead, but a lock-up at the same corner on the final lap handed the place back to Berryman, leaving no chance for the YRDA Arden racer to recover.
For Berryman, it was a fourth win of the campaign, leading home Bradbury by less than a tenth of a second, with McKeown third. The latter’s chief title rival Josh Lad was fourth, with Stanley Deslandes fifth in the other Apex Academy car.
Race 1: What they said
Berryman: “For us three at the front, it definitely wasn’t so crazy. We knew what was going on, we had a bit of a break away and worked together, and then as you saw, the last three laps we had a bit of a scrap for it. Thanks to Luke, playing the team game there, he could have fought for the win there. I knew it would be tough, but on the last lap there Ted lost his braking point a little bit into T3 and ended up handing it to me.”
Bradbury: “It was a great race. Obviously at the start I got a big slipstream, saw the gap and went for it. Peter Berryman is known to be very fast, as is Luke, so I decided to work with them. A silly mistake at the end cost me the win, but it was a good race. I’m representing my team in YRDA and I’m happy that we’re up there with the big esports teams.”
McKeown: “I think the main objective was to chill. It’s nice to have a break at the start so we didn’t have masses of fighting. There’s so few points between finishing second and third, I don’t want to take massive risks when I can sit there and gain points on Josh Lad still.”
Race 2: Bradbury strikes gold at the second attempt
Fired up after oh-so-nearly taking the honours in the opener, Bradbury was not to be denied in the partially reversed grid race to conclude the evening’s action.
Again, he showed great overtaking prowess after starting fourth, rising to third, and then subsequently to the race lead on the 10-minute mark, passing Lad at Becketts, then early race leader Berryman at Brooklands.
With a sense of déjà vu, the top three again elected to work together and strengthen their grip on the podium positions. This time it would be Williams Esports-backed star Lad on the charge in the closing stages, but he could only overhaul Berryman for second as Bradbury held on for his maiden win in the series.
With both ART and Apex Academy reduced to a car apiece in a dramatic contest, McKeown opted to play it safe, and was sixth, setting up a thrilling championship battle at Brands Hatch next week.
Race 2: What they said
Bradbury: “I had confidence in the setup, a good starting position, I was happy with the people around me too, they drove a great race. This is a big confidence boost for the team and myself, we’ve obviously found something in the setup and we’ve been able to catch Apex.”
Lad: “I could have maybe been a bit more aggressive on the last lap with Ted, but we’re not fighting for a championship with him, at the end of the day. Especially with one of each of the Apex cars being out of the points, it was good for our team’s championship bid.”
Berryman: “It was similar to the first race. At the start I was a bit worried, there were still four or five cars connected, but once it got down to three cars, it settled down a bit. A different ending for me, I’ve only got myself to blame for that. I tried to set up a good run out of the last corner and just touched the rear of Ted’s car, that gave me a big snap of oversteer and after that, my tyres were pretty much the temperature of the sun. Third isn’t too bad, having started fifth.”
All eyes on Brands for the championship decider
Brands Hatch’s iconic Grand Prix circuit hosts the season-concluding double header from 18:00 GMT next Friday (2 December) – and here’s how things stand in both championships:
In the headlining Teams’ Championship, Apex Racing Team now lead, but just 5 points blankets them, second-placed Munster Rugby Gaming and Apex Academy in third spot.
It’s a similar story in the Drivers’ stakes, with McKeown now a mere 9 points ahead of Lad. A strong haul of points for Berryman makes him the third – and last – driver still in contention, with a 19-point deficit to the championship summit.
Next week’s finale will be live on the iRacing, RaceSpot TV and British F4 YouTube channels.