DeFrancesco and Goddard steal a march in F4 British Championship pre-race test

  • DeFrancesco stakes his claim for top honours at Croft.
  • Zane Goddard touted for success as everyone left talking about his ominous testing performance for Double R Racing.
  • Ford EcoBoost-powered field looks to be closer than ever.

CROFT 17 JUNE, 2016 – Devlin DeFrancesco topped the times for Carlin in testing at Croft in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford. The entire day was plagued by wind and fine drizzle, but that didn’t stop motorsport’s leading lights from brightening up the day with a fascinating pre-race test.

DeFrancesco’s best of the day came in the afternoon with just minutes to spare, as he elected to fit a set of new Hankook slicks to his Carlin-prepared racer and blitz the 2.125-mile track with a 1m 20.753s. It was another assured performance from a driver in the ascendancy, having taken two victories and two podiums in the last six races.

Said DeFrancesco: “The team has done a great job. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this weekend. There is a lot more to come. There are a few little bits to refine here and there, but we’re in good shape for qualifying.

“It would be nice to make it two pole positions in a row. I really like this circuit. It’s one of my favourites. It’s a real driver’s circuit. I would like to think it’s an ideal circuit for me.”

Whilst DeFrancesco grabbed the headlines, Double R Racing’s Zane Goddard had everyone talking. The Australian excelled in testing at the circuit just over a fortnight ago. Fast-forward to today and the Australian put in an ominous performance, the majority of which on old tyres.

He was fastest in the morning session with a 1m 20.931s and only just lost out on P1 in the afternoon having led the way for the majority; at one point by a margin of over six tenths of a second.

Explained Goddard: “Today went well. We had really good speed on old tyres. The conditions were a little bit different to when we were here last, but I felt like I got in the groove quickly. I was able to put together three very quick consecutive laps in the morning, but wasn’t quite able to hook up the perfect lap so there is still more time there.

“We didn’t put new tyres on when others did this afternoon, that’s why we didn’t finish P1 and that’s where the time was. When they were on new tyres we saw what their pace was and didn’t feel the need to go again. I’m confident ahead of tomorrow. There is still more to come.”

Frequent Friday star James Pull once again shone with a time good enough for P3. Despite juggling exam commitments he’s confident that his preparation for this weekend has put him in good stead for victory.

“It’s always difficult balancing things like this. I think education is very important, especially in a sport like this”, said Pull. “Compared to last time I was here this performance is a massive improvement. It’s so close out there and qualifying will be really important. That’s the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle for me.”

Max Fewtrell was another who had to contend with academic responsibilities, missing out on the morning’s running to sit an exam. However, he wasted no time getting into the groove when behind the wheel to go an impressive fifth fastest in the afternoon session.

Like compatriot Goddard, Red Bull Junior Luis Leeds did a stellar job flying the Australian flag. He wound up fourth, just three tenths off of top spot, suggesting he’s more than capable of bouncing back from a frustrating outing at Oulton Park two weeks ago.

Commented Leeds: “I’m looking to claw some points back in the championship. As I always I’ll be focusing on performing to the very best of my ability. It’s nice to see Zane up there and it would be great to have two Aussies on the podium.”

Fortec Motorsports’ Alex Quinn emerged triumphant in an almighty tussle for early Rookie class supremacy going fifth quickest overall; less than three one hundredths of a second clear of Jack Martin’s best. Meanwhile, Ayrton Simmons was a further seven one hundredths away from his rookie rivals.

Commented Quinn: “It was tricky out there with the weather. We will go through the data and I think we can hook a lap together to be right up there. The battle in the Rookie class is going to be so close and I want to come out on top.”

Added Martin: “It was difficult because it was rainy on my visor, but the track wasn’t actually wet. I feel there is more time in the bag. I think the team have done a great job setting up the car. It feels great through the corners and very stable under braking.”

Championship leader Petru Florescu had a relatively quiet day in ninth, but having topped the times last time the British F4 cohort was at this circuit, one cannot help but feel there’s plenty more pace up the Romanian’s sleeve.

The same can be said of JHR Developments. Sennan Fielding and Jack Butel struggled to shine, but are sure to be protagonists after pouring over the data to hone their setups.

Another team confident they have not shown their full potential is Fortec Motorsports, having disguised the pace of their runners. It indicates we should expect better showings in qualifying from Frank Bird, Nicolai Kjaergaard and new addition to the squad Jamie Caroline.

Said Fortec team manager Dan Mitchell: “Alex is up there. We are close. We are chipping away. Jamie has to get used to many new things. He isn’t as high up as he has been this season because he has got to take one step back to go two steps forward. Tomorrow morning he will be fine. We’re just taking him through a full system that we take all our drivers through. He will move forward and he will win races this year.”

Patrik Matthiesen was unlucky not to have ended the day inside the top ten for JTR, particularly after a strong showing in the morning when he tallied the most amount of laps. “The morning went well”, commented the Dane. “I was happy with that, but this afternoon the performance dropped a little. We know what we need to work on. Top ten is the aim because I want to have more points than I do at the moment.”

With the entire F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford field covered by almost a second, the grid is shaping up to be closer than ever. Official qualifying is scheduled for 1050 tomorrow and the first of the weekend’s races is set to follow at 1525.

F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford

Leading testing times Croft 17 June 2016 (am/pm)
1 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin 1:21.071 / 1:20.753
2 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R 1:20.931 / 1:21.033
3 James PULL / GBR / Carlin 1:21.005 / 1:21.446
4 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 1:21.351 / 1:21.060
5 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec 1:21.269 / 1:21.094
6 Jack MARTIN / GBR / Arden 1:21.123 / 1:21.292
7 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin No time set / 1:21.181
8 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden 1:21.283 / 1:21.193
9 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:21.350 / 1:21.401
10 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden 1:21.409 / 1:21.357 etc.

Full times