Dunne races clear to victory in Oulton Park opener
Hitech GP’s Alex Dunne won the opening ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA race of the weekend at Oulton Park at a canter, the championship leader 7.4 seconds clear of the competition to wrap up a sixth victory of the season.
Although bested off the line by fellow front row starter Georgi Dimitrov (JHR), the Irish teenager, who claimed the Omologato Pole Position in qualifying earlier that day, recovered enough speed to maintain the inside line on the run through Old Hall, forcing Dimitrov to concede and slot in behind.
That then left the British-Bulgarian driver vulnerable to the attentions of Phinsys by Argenti’s Aiden Neate and Louis Sharp (Carlin), and he slipped back behind the pair to fourth.
Rodin Cars-backed racer Sharp was on a mission and pounced to take second from Neate at the Knickerbrook chicane. That battle raged on for the remainder of the 20-minute contest, however an opportunity for Neate to strike back never materialised.
They finished in second and third respectively behind Dunne, with Dimitrov and Rookie winner Daniel Guinchard (Argenti) rounding out the top five, the latter having leapfrogged fellow F1 junior Oliver Gray (Carlin).
For Dunne, however, it was another commanding drive, and one that extends his lead in the overall championship standings to 65 points.
“I’m really enjoying this track,” grins Dunne. “It’s probably one of my favourites throughout the year. So yeah, I’m feeling really comfortable out there.
“I think I made a little mistake at the start. I released the clutch a bit quickly, so I broke off the line and he managed that to get up alongside me, but I managed to hold him off into turn one. And then I could kind of see in my mirrors that that I was gradually pulling away. So, I tried to try to do my best to look after the tyres and keep that gap.
“We have to make the most of the pace we have right now and try to carry that on into the rest of the season.”
Sharp’s second place maintains his record of taking a podium finish at each race meeting, the Kiwi rising star clawing back more ground in the standings after being forced to sit out the opening event due to his age.
“We showed our pace at the start, I was able to get a really good start, and on the first lap I made up two positions, so I couldn’t really ask for much more than that for a first lap,” said Sharp in parc ferme.
“After that, I really just settled into the race and tried to put in consistent laps. I could tell Aiden behind me was a bit quicker, and especially towards the end we lost a bit of pace. I was able to just hold on for second.”
Neate was understandably frustrated to not be in a position to pass, but commended Sharp for keeping his cool in a frenetic battle between the pair.
“It was just difficult, to be honest with you,” he explains. “I didn’t get off the line very well; my fault really. From there, I just kept putting pressure on Louis, we were miles faster than him, but you can’t overtake around here, and fair play to him, he didn’t make a mistake.”
Joseph Loake (JHR) put in a battling drive on home soil, the Macclesfield-based racer moving through from the foot of the top ten to seventh. Oliver Stewart continued his steady climb through the ranks in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series, gaining four places amidst the opening exchanges to take eighth, and his fifth points finish in seven races.
Michael Shin was another driver on the move, the South Korean leading Virtuosi Racing’s charge with ninth spot. Eduardo Coseteng (Hitech) had started an uncharacteristic 15th but made consistent progress through the pack to round out the points scorers in tenth.
Noah Lisle picked up more Rookie silverware in 11th spot, 2.4 seconds clear of Edward Pearson (Virtuosi) in 12th. His namesake Joel Pearson was 13th for Chris Dittmann Racing and will carry the live on-board camera for tomorrow’s (12 June) ITV coverage.
Adam Fitzgerald (Argenti) and Daniel Mavlyutov (Hitech) rounded out the 15 finishers, with Ugo Ugochukwu (Carlin), Dunne’s closest rival at the championship summit, the only casualty after a wide moment at Old Hall dropped him back, and he later retired via the pit lane, one lap down.
Sunday features another double header of races around the Island circuit at Oulton Park. The first is the partially reversed grid race, which gets underway on ITV at 13:00 BST. The second, from which Dunne will again start from pole, is on ITV4 at 17:45.
To view the full race result, click here.