Arden Motorsport’s Alex Connor managed the gap back to Zak O’Sullivan – and tricky damp conditions – to secure his return to the winner’s circle in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost at Silverstone.
Connor made a level start with fellow front-row starter Casper Stevenson (Argenti) to lead on the run through Copse, and thereafter built a half-second advantage over Stevenson and Carlin racer O’Sullivan in the opening laps.
That gap thinned slightly after a lock up into Becketts at half-distance, but the only threat to Connor’s lead came at Luffield on the final tour, O’Sullivan capitalising on a moment in the dampening conditions to edge alongside the Arden racer.
Connor would not be denied, however, securing his second victory of the season by just 0.199 seconds to give his championship hopes a boost.
Stevenson rounds out the podium – his fifth in a row – and after just 8 cars finished a challenging race around the 1.6-mile National circuit, he’ll line up on the front row once again for the reverse grid race tomorrow morning, with points leader Luke Browning (Fortec) on pole.
Despite losing touch with the top three as the race unfolded, Browning’s run to fourth place was far from uneventful.
Initially, he was forced on the defensive as both James Hedley and Abbi Pulling tried to no avail to pass; the battle up until that point between both JHR cars had been thrilling, the position initially changing hands on the Wellington Straight after a better exit from Becketts for Pulling.
Hedley responded, the BRDC Rising Star re-taking the position on the inside into Luffield, but Pulling’s next attempt to seize fifth would end in a spin at Copse as the pair ran side-by-side through the high-speed right hander.
That contest gave Browning some welcome breathing space, and he duly stayed on course to finish fourth and minimise the damage to his points lead with O’Sullivan up the road, the gap between them now 51 markers.
Hedley survived to take fifth, 4.6 seconds back from Browning, with Matias Zagazeta (Carlin) sixth – and the winner among the Rookie Cup entries.
Off-circuit moments for Frederick Lubin (Arden) and Christian Mansell (Carlin) whilst battling for position put both out of the race alongside Pulling, having both led the class stakes at different stages of the race.
Lubin held the advantage initially, but Mansell surged through as the Brit went into battle with Arden team mate Roman Bilinski in the opening laps; their late-race incidents gave Zagazeta the opportunity to come through and claim his first class victory since the season opener at Donington Park.
Bilinski had finished sixth on the road, but a 5-second time penalty for exceeding track limits drops him to seventh in the final reckoning, with Argenti’s Reema Juffali eighth, and unlucky not to be celebrating a career-best result after a superb race.
The Saudi Arabian capitalised on all the battling in the midfield to move through the order, running as high as sixth before being delayed in an incident at Copse on the penultimate lap.
The second race of the weekend at Silverstone gets underway at 12:07 (BST) tomorrow – live on ITV2.
Provisional Result – Round 16
|1||Alex CONNOR||Arden Motorsport||21 laps|
|3||Casper STEVENSON||Argenti Motorsport||+3.289s|
|4||Luke BROWNING||Fortec Motorsport||+10.148s|
|5||James HEDLEY||JHR Developments||+14.784s|
|7||Roman BILINSKI||Arden Motorsport||+24.261s|
|8||Reema JUFFALI||Argenti Motorsport||+26.763s|
|DNF||Christian MANSELL||Carlin||+2 laps|
|DNF||Frederick LUBIN||Arden Motorsport||+5 laps|
|DNF||Abbi PULLING||JHR Developments||+6 laps|