DeFrancesco and Carlin top the times in super-competitive Rockingham test

  • Carlin quartet leads the way with DeFrancesco quickest.
  • Top 15 covered by less than a second at Rockingham Motor Speedway.

ROCKINGHAM 26 AUGUST, 2016 – Devlin DeFrancesco headed a Carlin 1-2-3-4 at the top of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford timesheets today in pre-race testing at Rockingham Motor Speedway. The Canadian saved his best until late on with a lap of 1m 19.034s to put him two tenths clear of team-mate James Pull whose time of 1m 19.245s looked like it might not be beaten.

Said DeFrancesco: “I’m looking forward to the rest of this weekend. We’ve done a lot of testing here. James was my benchmark after the first session and I found a few little bits and pieces which we have now sorted on the car so everything is gelling together.

“I really need to maximise qualifying with the ten place grid penalty I have going into this weekend. We had some very good overtakes at Knockhill, especially in race one, so let’s see what we can do here [fighting through the field tomorrow].”

Added Pull: “I think the win is definitely on the cards. Knockhill was a messy weekend for everyone and at Snetterton we were unlucky too. Although at Snetterton we fixed our issues in qualifying so hopefully everything stays normal and I can do well.

“Rockingham is really hard because the surface is so different to any other track. On old tyres the time is a lot slower than usual and on new tyres it’s a lot faster, but it only really lasts for about three laps so that’s going to be important in qualifying.”

As the sun began to set on the 1.94-mile Northamptonshire circuit in the second session; teams elected to do qualifying simulations on new tyres and unsurprisingly many drivers recorded their best times of the day in thrilling fashion as the clock ticked down.

Petru Florescu ended the day third fastest overall courtesy of a very late flyer whilst championship leader Max Fewtrell looked as rock solid as ever out ending up P4.

Despite Carlin grabbing the headlines at the top, they were by no means easily clear of the field, with the majority of drivers less than a second off DeFrancesco’s time.

Chief among Carlin’s challengers was JHR Developments’ Sennan Fielding. Like Pull, his fastest time came in the first session and after making a setup breakthrough over the summer around this circuit the Chesterfield racer is sure to be a contender for top honours.

Rafael Martins and Ayrton Simmons also shone for TRS Arden, posting the sixth and seventh fastest times respectively. The latter looking particularly impressive on track as the quickest Rookie driver and is on the cusp of his first ever overall podium.

Commented Simmons: “I’m really happy. I think I could have been right up there with DeFrancesco. I’m really happy with the job that the team has done so fingers crossed for tomorrow.

“I’ve found that things have really clicked with the team, so every change we do to the car results in an improvement which is great. I think myself and the car have been outstanding today. All we need to do is carry this on.”

Aussies Zane Goddard (Double R) and Luis Leeds (TRS Arden) lit up Knockhill a fortnight ago and found themselves in eighth and ninth at the close of play. Both drivers are likely to get in on the act given their pace in testing.

Said Leeds: “Session one was good. We had a lot of pace. It’s positive because all the Arden cars had a lot of pace and we were all quicker than each other in different areas so we can build from each other’s sessions. This weekend should be pretty fun with eight of us in the championship hunt. It’s getting real.”

JTR’s Patrik Matthiesen was another driver to finish within a second of the day’s fastest time and is hopeful of building on his pace throughout the weekend: “It’s nice to be back in the car, especially as a lot of my sponsors are here this weekend. The pace is there. We need to focus on improving in the first sector. We’re aiming for a strong qualifying. We want to get into the top ten and stay there. After that we will see how the races go.”

Fielding’s JHR team-mates Billy Monger and Jack Butel had hoped to show more in testing, having finished outside the top ten. Butel suffered from technical gremlins which prevented him from mixing it towards the front, but having missed out on Knockhill one senses that a clearly physically fitter and more focused Butel is on the hunt for some big point scores this weekend.

Alex Quinn was quickest of the Fortec Motorsports runners; breaking into the top ten late on, but it’s likely to have come as little consolation for a team who had a relatively quiet day’s running. Something that was all the more surprising given Jamie Caroline’s flashes of speed during the first session.

Explained Caroline: “We went out too early on the newer tyres in the first session when the track was still rubbering in. We then went out on old tyres in the second session and had alright pace. We then went quicker on new tyres, but everyone had a second set and found loads of time whereas we only had one set of new tyres for that session. It’s meant to be wet tomorrow and I hope it will be because I always go well in those conditions.”

Carrie Schreiner ended the day 17th for Double R, clearly still getting reacquainted with her Ford EcoBoost-powered racer, having last competed in the series in May. There is sure to be more to come from the German starlet, as is the case with Richardson Racing’s Alexandra Marinescu.

Official qualifying is set for 1020 tomorrow ahead of the 1415 start for Round 22 of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford. There are two further races on Sunday, the second of which will be screened live on ITV4 at 1552.

F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford

Leading testing times Rockingham 26 August 2016 (session 1/session 2)
1 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin 1:19.501 / 1:19.034
2 James PULL / GBR / Carlin 1:19.245 / 1:19.354
3 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:19.619 / 1:19.250
4 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin 1:19.385 / 1:19.257
5 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1:19.266 / 1:19.330
6 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden 1:19.729 / 1:19.294
7 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden 1:19.410 / 1:19.309
8 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R 1:19.569 / 1:19.352
9 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 1:19.528 / 1:19.421
10 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec 1:19.872 / 1:19.498 etc.

Full times