Luke Browning survived last-lap contact with Alex Connor at Cascades to win a thrilling second F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost race of the weekend at Oulton Park.
The Fortec Motorsport racer made a strong start from sixth in his favoured wet conditions, passing both JHR’s James Hedley and Argenti’s Casper Stevenson on the opening tour of the 2.26-mile Cheshire circuit, the latter around the outside at Island Hairpin to run third behind front row starters Connor and pole-sitter Frederick Lubin (both Arden).
Connor, who had seized the lead on the exit of Old Hall at the start, took advantage of Lubin defending from Browning to stretch his advantage at the front to a second, but once Browning cleared Lubin the gap between them began to shrink lap-on-lap.
Their battle reached a crescendo on the final lap as Browning attempted to repeat his race one-winning manoeuvre around the outside of Old Hall. That put him on the inside heading down The Avenue and into Cascades, but contact between the pair sent Connor off-circuit and into the barriers and left Browning with a broken front wing.
He nursed the car back around to take the chequered flag 4.471 seconds clear of Stevenson and Arden’s Roman Bilinski in second and third, the latter taking his maiden podium finish in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series.
Browning’s victory, which cleared a post-race investigation by officials, opens up a 12-point lead over Carlin’s Zak O’Sullivan in the standings, who bogged down off the line and could only recover to ninth via a spin at Island Hairpin at half-distance.
Stevenson and Bilinski’s battle proved every bit as intense as the fight for the lead; the Polish racer initially seized the upper hand (then for fourth) with a sublime move to the outside of Lodge.
Both cars then cleared Lubin at Cascades and Knickerbrook respectively to elevate themselves into third and fourth on the road, before a last-lap reversal of the positions – coupled with Connor’s misfortune – gave Stevenson the upper hand at the flag.
That result also moves Stevenson into third overall in the standings ahead of Connor.
JHR’s James Hedley started strong but fell back as the race wore on, but kept a comfortable ten-second margin to team mate Abbi Pulling behind in fifth.
Lubin would eventually hang on to sixth to mark his 16th birthday with a second Rookie Cup victory of the weekend. He came under pressure at half-distance from class standings leader Christian Mansell (Carlin), but a mistake from the Australian saw him go straight on at Island and forced him to take the International loop to rejoin at the back.
That aided a storming recovery drive from Roberto Faria; the Brazilian started from the back of the field after yesterday’s incident with Bilinski and pitted for a new front wing after going off on the green-flag lap, but cut his way through the order to bank valuable points in seventh.
Nico Pino and Reema Juffali made it all three Argenti cars in the top ten, the pair finishing eighth and tenth either side of erstwhile championship leader O’Sullivan.
Nathanael Hodgkiss (JHR) survived a scare at Cascades to take eleventh, the Brit dipping two wheels on the grass and sliding off-circuit at Cascades whilst defending from Pulling early on, and held off Mansell and Matias Zagazeta (also Carlin), who was also forced to take the escape road at Island after an off and rounds out the finishers.
The final race of the weekend at Oulton Park is scheduled to get underway at 17:45 (BST).
Race Result – Round 08
|1||Luke BROWNING||Fortec Motorsport||10 laps|
|2||Casper STEVENSON||Argenti Motorsport||+4.487s|
|3||Roman BILINSKI||Arden Motorsport||+5.600s|
|4||James HEDLEY||JHR Developments||+8.624s|
|5||Abbi PULLING||JHR Developments||+18.345s|
|6||Frederick LUBIN||Arden Motorsport||+19.622s|
|7||Roberto FARIA||Fortec Motorsport||+19.774s|
|8||Nico PINO||Argenti Motorsport||+29.189s|
|10||Reema JUFFALI||Argenti Motorsport||+33.574s|
|11||Nathanael HODGKISS||JHR Developments||+36.183s|
|DNF||Alex CONNOR||Arden Motorsport|