- Carlin puts in ominous pre-race testing performance at Oulton Park.
- Romanian Petru Florescu ends the day top of the pile.
OULTON PARK 3 JUNE, 2016 – Carlin got its Oulton Park race weekend off to the perfect start by dominating both practice sessions. All four of their drivers locked out the top spots on the timing sheets. Of the Carlin quartet it was Petru Florescu and James Pull who really stole the show, the former recording the fastest time of the day.
Having spent free practice one experimenting with his setup, it was in the second session where Florescu set out to dial his car in for qualifying. An entertaining skirmish at the top of times ensued between himself and Pull who had been the morning’s standout performer with the quickest time.
At the halfway stage of free practice two it was Pull who led proceedings, but with just over 10 minutes remaining Florescu set about reeling in his team-mate; eventually getting within seven hundredths of Pull. However, Pull responded by increasing his margin at the top with a 1m 22.685s, only for Florescu to flash across the line moments later with a 1m 22.615s lap to put him top of the pile.
Said pacesetter Florescu: “In the morning I tried some different setups. I’m really happy with my pace and to be P1. I really like this track and I’m pleased that I was able to put a lot of fast, consistent laps together. I’ve worked so hard over the last year and the car feels so good out on track. For the rest of the weekend the key will be to concentrate and not make any mistakes.”
Commented Pull: “It’s been a really good day. I love the track. It suits my driving style and Carlin are so dominant here. I didn’t optimise my best run of the day because I did a couple of mistakes on my new tyres so I know there is more in the bag for qualifying. It’s so close at the front and that’s what makes British F4 so exciting.”
Devlin DeFrancesco, rounded out Carlin’s fantastic four at the top, just over a tenth slower than Max Fewtrell. Racing Steps Foundation star Alex Quinn was next up in fifth. The Fortec Motorsports driver not only finding himself in his customary position of quickest rookie, but also quickest of the non-Carlin runners and confident of taking the fight to the reigning champion team.
Meanwhile, TRS Arden’s Ayrton Simmons was all smiles having posted a top 10 lap time and showing the kind of pace which suggests he could challenge Quinn in the Rookie class this weekend.
“We were quite quick. The car feels really good and I improved throughout the day. We’ll analyse the data tonight to make another step forward,” explained Simmons.“It’s nice that we are battling at the front of the Rookie class, but we are focused on what we are doing and trying to get the best out of the car. The results will come. We’re up against some of the best drivers in the UK so to be high up the order shows that the hard work is paying off.”
Championship leader Sennan Fielding had a solid day in his JHR Developments car; posting the seventh fastest time around the circuit where he recorded his maiden British F4 victory in 2015. He finished just two tenths off of championship rival Luis Leeds.
Aussies Leeds and Goddard were both pleased with their performances as they got to grips with the 2.2 mile Cheshire track for the first time. Said Goddard: “I’ve been really looking forward to this weekend. Today has been all about getting used to a new track, but I’m happy. There are little aspects we need to improve upon, but they will come.”
Pirtek Racing Jamun’s Jamie Caroline wound up closest to the Carlin runners in the morning, only to fall away in FP2. “I’m unable to get the most out of the new tyres at the moment and I don’t know why. On old tyres our pace is really good, but we’re just not finding the lap time gain on new tyres. I think the track will be less rubbered in tomorrow for qualifying so there will be less grip which plays to my strengths and our race pace is absolutely mega.”
With the top 10 drivers from today’s F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford pre-race test covered by less than a second, Carlin are unlikely to have things their own way. All the signs suggest that there will be a fiercely contested Ford EcoBoost-powered battle for both pole and the podium places tomorrow.
F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford
Leading testing times Oulton Park 3 June 2016 (FP1/FP2)
1 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:23.441 / 1:22.615
2 James PULL / GBR / Carlin 1:23.259 / 1:22.685
3 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin 1:23.283 / 1:22.830
4 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin 1:23.445 / 1:22.974
5 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec 1:23.653 / 1:23.049
6 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 1:24.068 / 1:23.206
7 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1:24.077 / 1:23.453
8 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun 1:23.509 / 1:23.465
9 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden 1:23.684 / 1:23.488
10 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R 1:24.165 / 1:23.493 etc.