Event Review: JHR make it a hat-trick on return to Thruxton

  • Carter Williams takes maiden victories in Ford EcoBoost-powered series at the UK’s fastest circuit, Josh Skelton makes it a triple for JHR.
  • Sebastian Alvarez continues to chip away at Zane Maloney’s points lead, the gap now down to 37 markers with nine races to go.
  • Impressive Rookie Cup showing from Maloney leaves Carlin racer on the brink of success in the class stakes.

JHR Developments took an emphatic hat-trick of victories – including a maiden triumph for Carter Williams – as the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost returned to the UK’s fastest circuit, Thruxton.

The Derbyshire-based outfit were on another level in race trim in Hampshire. After besting polesitter Luke Browning (Richardson Racing) at Cobb in the opener, the Californian set about extending a 3.5-second lead at the chequered flag, registering a maiden victory in Ford’s winning formula.

He then doubled his tally in the ITV4-televised finale on Sunday, sweeping past Browning through the high-speed right-hander at Allard on the opening lap. Williams’ team-mate Josh Skelton followed him through into second, and the two established a comfortable margin before battling it out for victory.

Williams would hold Skelton off, but Motorsport UK Academy member Skelton leaves Hampshire satisfied after a hat-trick of podiums, including victory in the reverse-grid race after a dramatic move at the final chicane on Arden Motorsport’s Tommy Foster.

In terms of the championship, Sebastian Alvarez (Double R Racing) claimed a brace of podiums to narrow Zane Maloney’s lead in the standings to 37 markers with nine races left to run, but the Carlin racer stands on the brink of Rookie Cup success.

Another hat-trick of wins in that regard, and three top six-finishes overall, mean the Bajan racer has a 163.5-point advantage over Arden’s Alex Connor and could theoretically secure the Rookie title as soon as the next meeting at Knockhill in mid-September.

Maloney did win the second race on the road from pole position, but an unfortunate penalty for a false start dropped him back to sixth in the corrected result.

Alvarez’s team-mate Louis Foster also ended a podium drought on home soil, ending a tough weekend on a high with third in the final race to keep his own title hopes alive.

For Browning, it proved to be a character-building weekend, but a first-ever pole position in the Ford EcoBoost-powered series – and a double one at that – proved the outfit are still capable of fighting at the very front on a given weekend.

A pair of fourth-placed finishes proved to be the highlight for the Cheshire-based racer, who now needs to be wary of Williams in the battle for sixth overall.

Arden’s Foster did well to back up his Snetterton success with more silverware; likewise team-mate Alex Connor who picks up another brace of solid points finishes.

The leading Red Arrow in terms of overall points, Bart Horsten, fought back well from two frustrating retirements to showcase his speed in race three, with fourth the reward.

Fortec Motorsport’s pairing of Roberto Faria and Mariano Martinez provided some thrilling racing to the capacity crowd along with JHR’s Alex Walker and Double R’s Reema Juffali over the final points-paying positions.

All four took a share of the spoils across the weekend, with Juffali a notable star after taking a career-best eighth in race two.

The F4 British Championship makes its annual pilgrimage north of the Scottish border to Knockhill, Fife, when the series resumes on 14-15 September.

Carter Williams (#55) said, “It’s been mega: a fantastic weekend for us and the team. We had insane pace in practice and took second in qualifying for races one and three. In race one I got a good start, it worked out for me, and I got a gap and managed it. It felt really good to get that first win.

“I had a little mishap which was my fault trying to go around the outside of the chicane in the second race. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but I drove well to get back to sixth where I started, so no harm, no foul.

“In race three the team started second and third, so we had a plan going in and delivered. JHR has done really well this weekend. Josh and I learnt off each other all the time and to get another perspective in the team from Alex has helped. He’s really quick in the sim and was fantastic this weekend.”

Josh Skelton (#43) said, “It’s been a great weekend, not perfect but not far from it, and a podium in every race means it has been the best one so far. Croft was a win but was only half points so I was a bit disappointed, but this time I fought hard. It came down to the last lap and last corner and I was a bit overwhelmed with it really.

“I got a massive run out of Church and was late on the brakes. I left Tommy [Foster] enough room though we did have a little contact which meant we both cut the chicane, but nothing came of it because it was just avoiding action.

“I would never try not to win a race, so I wasn’t going to let Carter have it easy in race three. I had a really good start, we broke the gap to those behind and pulled out an advantage to have a little fight at the end of the race.

“I tried a few things which didn’t work but I’m really happy to bring home a one-two for the team. They have been working hard to perfect everything and it is paying off. We’re pushing each other hard on the sim in the week and it’s all coming together.”