Preview: Dunne leads early running heading to Brands Hatch
After a near-perfect weekend in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA at Donington Park, Alex Dunne arrives at Brands Hatch with a 37-point lead and as the early championship favourite. But he will need to be wary of the chasing pack behind…
Despite only confirming his seat at Hitech GP in the days prior to the season opener, the 16-year-old Irish talent was in superb form at the East Midlands venue, claiming a hat-trick of podiums, including two wins, to lay down a marker for the rest of the field.
His closest challengers, Carlin’s Oliver Gray and Argenti’s Aiden Neate, both enjoyed silverware-laden starts to their own respective campaigns, but a collision between the pair at Redgate in the reverse grid contest lost them crucial early ground in the title race. Just three points separates them in second and third outright, with a similar margin back to fourth-placed Ugo Ugochuwku (Carlin).
McLaren junior Ugochuwku lit up the timesheets in qualifying at Donington and was the only man to beat Dunne on one-lap pace, taking the inaugural Omologato Pole Position by just 0.02 seconds. He converted that into a maiden podium the following day and looks like ‘one to watch’ as the season – and his experience – develops.
Dunne’s two triumphs bookended a reverse grid win for Georgi Dimitrov, the JHR racer resisting pressure from team-mate Joseph Loake to take a fourth career victory in the reverse grid contest. The pair sit fifth and seventh in the standings, split by Eduardo Coseteng (Hitech), who undoubtedly had the pace to challenge further up the field at Donington, but still came away with three solid points finishes.
Edward Pearson heads up Michael Shin in an all-Virtuosi battle for eighth, with Mercedes junior Daniel Guinchard (Argenti) rounding out the top ten.
The battle for every point has been hard-fought so far in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series, and as a result five cars – Chris Dittmann Racing’s Joel Pearson, Oliver Stewart (Hitech), Noah Lisle (JHR), Adam Fitzgerald (Argenti) and Daniel Mavlyutov (Hitech) are blanketed by just two points in the standings.
This weekend also marks the debut of Louis Sharp, the Carlin racer finally old enough to compete on a race weekend. Sharp, backed by Rodin Cars like compatriot and F2 star Liam Lawson, has been quick in testing and will be looking to hit the ground running and make up for lost time.
Two practice sessions on Friday kick off the action around the 1.2-mile Indy circuit at 12:05 and 17:20 (BST) respectively, before an all-important qualifying session at 09:00 on Saturday morning.
It’s then racing action straight through to the end of the programme, with two races on Saturday afternoon (13:25 & 17:10), the second of which features the partially-reversed grid.
Sunday’s live, ITV-televised finale rounds out the action, scheduled to get underway at 13:20.