Preview: Stars of tomorrow ready for lakeside triple header
Hitech GP’s Alex Dunne remains the man to beat in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA as the motorsport stars of tomorrow head to Oulton Park for a lakeside triple-header.
A double victory last time out at Thruxton has cemented the 16-year-old Irishman’s status at the championship summit, although the headlines don’t quite tell the full story. In the opening contest around the high-speed Hampshire venue, Dunne was beaten off the line by a fast-starting Ugo Ugochukwu of Carlin, his nearest rival in the championship.
Ugochukwu led in controlled fashion until just before half-distance, when a bump at Seagrave sent him wide and allowed Dunne back through, and from there the Irishman stayed in control.
Phinsys by Argenti’s Aiden Neate capitalised on a late mistake at the Club chicane by team-mate Daniel Guinchard to take a maiden win in the reverse grid contest, the pair working their way through the pack using Thruxton’s notorious slipstreaming capabilities to move from the fourth row of the grid to the top two steps on the podium.
Back with the championship leaders, and Ugochukwu again looked to have the better run down to Allard in the ITV4-televised finale and the pair made light contact when Dunne ducked back to the inside line to defend the lead, but both continued unabated. Dunne duly registered a fifth win of the campaign ahead of the McLaren protégé, giving him the 37-point advantage he holds heading to Cheshire.
Following two practice sessions on Friday at Oulton Park, arguably the most crucial qualifying session of the season to-date kicks off the competitive action at 10:45 on Saturday. The Cheshire circuit’s narrow nature makes it a perfect venue for defensive driving, and the majority of victories in years gone by have been won from either the first or second row of the grid.
Racing action begins later that day at 14:55, with a further two races at 13:00 and 17:45 respectively on Sunday. The first will feature a partially reversed grid and will be live on ITV, with the second live on ITV4.
A solitary podium for Williams junior Ollie Gray at Thruxton keeps the Carlin driver in third, a further 11 markers back from Ugochukwu, with Neate now fourth after his maiden win.
Joseph Loake is fifth for JHR Developments and will enjoy a lot of local support this weekend, the teenager hailing from Macclesfield, just 25 miles east. Virtuosi Racing’s Michael Shin, JHR’s Georgi Dimitrov, Guinchard, Hitech GP’s Eduardo Coseteng and the other Virtuosi challenger of Edward Pearson complete the top ten, that group split by a mere 11 points.
Louis Sharp continues to scale the championship standings after joining a round late due to his age, and the Kiwi celebrated a second podium in successive meetings at Thruxton. Now just two markers shy of breaking into the top ten, the Rodin Cars-backed racer leads Joel Pearson (Chris Dittmann Racing) in the standings, the Leeds-based racer continuing to impress in his rookie single seater campaign.
Noah Lisle (JHR)’s maiden podium in the reverse grid race last time out has moved him to within striking range of Hitech’s Oliver Stewart in 13th and 14th respectively, but both will need to be wary of an ever-improving Adam Fitzgerald (Argenti) and Daniel Mavlyutov (Hitech) behind.
Ugochukwu currently holds Guinchard at arm’s length in the Rookie Cup battle, 45 points to the good, and remains the only driver in the class to have finished each of the nine races thus far in 2022 on the podium. His Carlin team are 27 points clear atop the Teams Cup standings from nearest challengers Hitech GP.