Alex Connor opened the 2020 F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost campaign in stellar fashion, rising through from fifth on the grid to claim a maiden victory at Donington Park.
A strong start put the Arden Motorsport protegee up into fourth past Carlin’s Zak O’Sullivan, and he dispatched both Fortec Motorsport team mates Luke Browning and Roberto Faria on the second tour of the 1.97-mile National circuit to put himself directly behind pole man James Hedley (JHR).
Hedley put up a good defence, but a better run out of the Old Hairpin gave Connor the advantage up the hill, through Schwantz Curve and into McLeans, where a brave move around the outside promoted him to a race lead, and from there he went unchallenged.
“It was really good, I wasn’t expecting that,” admitted Connor.
“It was just a good drive, from fifth to first. Last year was my first race here, so to improve on that was really good.
“I was just trying to get past in any way possible. You can go around the outside there [McLeans] and I think my tyres were on quite early, which was good and I could use that to my advantage. I just hung around the outside and then it happened!
“I was very consistent the whole race, which always helps. For the last couple of laps I saw it raining and didn’t want to take any risks, so I just eased off a little bit. I knew my gap was quite big, so I had the opportunity to do that.”
With Connor away into the distance and building his eventual 1.6-second winning margin, attention switched to an equally thrilling battle for the runner-up spot behind.
Both Faria and Browning followed Connor through to re-assume second and third on the road, before an intriguing inter-team scrap over the final few laps.
A bold move into the Roberts Chicane after chipping away at the gap put Browning into second with a little under five minutes left on the clock, and from there the top three positions remained the same.
O’Sullivan’s pace in the closing stages impressed, the Carlin racer also getting a move completed at Roberts to take fourth from Hedley. Although he set about closing in on Faria, time ultimately prevented him from progressing any further.
Hedley rounded out the top five on his single-seater debut ahead of a charging Rafael Villagomez, the Mexican cutting through the field from 11th to finish sixth and claim victory in the Rookie Cup stakes.
Argenti Motorsport’s Casper Stevenson took seventh, and will start the reverse grid race tomorrow morning from pole position.
Roman Bilinski and Frederick Lubin made it a hat-trick of points finishes for Arden in eighth and ninth, the latter just holding off Nico Pino (Argenti), who rounded out the points finishers on his first race in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series.
Nathanael Hodgkiss (JHR) was eleventh, ahead of Christian Mansell (Carlin) who dropped back with a jump-start penalty and Matias Zagazeta.
Reema Juffali rounded out the finishers on the lead lap, with Abbi Pulling (JHR) last after pitting for a new front wing after contact with Villagomez at Roberts.
The weekend continues with race two at 09:40 tomorrow [2nd August].
Round 1 – Classification
|1||Alex CONNOR||Arden Motorsport||18 laps|
|2||Luke BROWNING||Fortec Motorsport||+1.669s|
|3||Roberto FARIA||Fortec Motorsport||+4.982s|
|5||James HEDLEY||JHR Developments||+5.716s|
|6||Rafael VILLAGOMEZ||Fortec Motorsport||+10.428s|
|7||Casper STEVENSON||Argenti Motorsport||+11.135s|
|8||Roman BILINSKI||Arden Motorsport||+14.640s|
|9||Frederick LUBIN||Arden Motorsport||+16.056s|
|10||Nico PINO||Argenti Motorsport||+16.199s|
|11||Nathanael HODGKISS||JHR Developments||+20.988s|
|14||Reema JUFFALI||Argenti Motorsport||+28.015s|
|15||Abbi PULLING||JHR Developments||+1 lap|