- Carlin’s Petru Florescu claims thrilling last gasp pole.
- All four of Fortec Motorsports’ drivers star after team’s inspired decision to switch to slicks.
KNOCKHILL 13 AUGUST, 2016 – Championship leader Petru Florescu was in the right place at the right time at Knockhill thanks to an expertly judged last gasp switch to slicks to claim his sixth pole of the season in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford.
With a dry line beginning to emerge after a sudden downpour at the start of qualifying Carlin’s Florescu and Fortec Motorsports’ quartet of runners boldly elected to come into the pits to fit slick tyres with just minutes remaining. The battle for pole rapidly becoming all about who could get their slick tyres up to temperature and cross the line last before the chequered flag fell.
Florescu used every ounce of his experience and guile to time his run to perfection. Having crossed the line with one second to spare, he proceeded to light up the timing screens to steal pole from Fortec’s Alex Quinn with a 51.447s lap.
Said the poleman: “I managed to get two flying laps on the slicks and I almost went off on the second lap because I was pushing so hard. It was a good qualifying and now we’ll see what we can do in the race.
“I made the call to change the tyres. I saw a dry line forming, but I didn’t know how dry it was in the first sector. I thought it was still going to be wet, but I saw it was dry and just pushed.”
The Fortec Motorsports runners were the first to make the inspired switch which paid huge dividends. Racing Steps Foundation-backed star Alex Quinn going second quickest and netting pole for the final race of the weekend courtesy of his second fastest lap time.
Commented Quinn: “I’m so excited. It’s really good to be back at the front after Snetterton and I’m looking forward to the next races. To be on the front row for race one and pole for race three is what we wanted, although it would have been nice to have pole for race one but that’s how it goes sometimes.
“The track was drying and I was always wondering when it would be possible to go to slicks. It was quite difficult on the slicks in the first sector because it was so wet and it was hard to judge how much I could push because the track was drying so quickly. I think we did really well to get on top of that.”
Jamie Caroline looked like a real contender in the dying minutes, twice posting times good enough for provisional pole, only to have them removed for track limits. A clean lap finally arriving on his last attempt, but leaving Caroline ruing a case of what might have been compounded by a five place grid penalty carried over from Snetterton a fortnight ago.
Said Caroline: “It could have been even better. I didn’t have enough time to warm the tyres up properly and I feel that if I hadn’t been so close to Petru on my final lap I would have been able to get a really good time in.
“It was such a fine line between the dry line and the wet line out there. I understeered onto a wet patch on my final lap and thankfully I didn’t spin, but that moment cost me pole. I was loving it out there though on a damp track with slicks.”
Added Fortec Motorsports team manager Dan Mitchell: “We tested here last year in November and Alex had 20 minutes in the sort of conditions we had today so we knew the crossover time. As soon as we hit that time we brought the cars in for slicks.
“The mechanics did an awesome job changing the tyres. To change tyres on all four cars so quickly to get them out there and qualify so well is brilliant.”
Rafael Martins was quickest of the TRS Arden drivers ahead of Fortec’s Nicolai Kjaergaard and Frank Bird; the latter having by far his best qualifying of the season.
Explained Bird: “It feels really good and it’s a great result for the Fortec team. Hopefully we can carry this through into the race.
“I didn’t know how well I was doing out there because the lap times weren’t showing on my dashboard. When I pitted for slicks I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision, but then there was a dry line on the last few laps and it paid off.”
Championship protagonists Leeds, Fielding, Fewtrell and Pull remained on wet tyres and this proved to be their undoing as the track conditions went away from them. They will line up 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th respectively, but are sure to provide an entertaining spectacle as they try to fight through the field.
Fellow title contender Devlin DeFrancesco fared better in qualifying. He will start from the third row of the grid and look to take further points away from his rivals.
Double R Racing’s Zane Goddard’s ended up seventh fastest having been on provisional pole at various stages throughout the session. The slippery 1.27-mile track playing into the hands of Aussie who excelled in similar conditions during testing yesterday. Billy Monger also shone, at times also finding himself in P1. He will line up ninth in this afternoon’s race which gets underway at 1635.
F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford
Provisional qualifying times Knockhill 13 August 2016
Grid order for Round 19
1 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 51.447s
2 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec 51.871s
3 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden 52.664s
4 Nicolai KJAERGAARD / DEN / Fortec 52.722s
5 Frank BIRD / GBR / Fortec 53.048s
6 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin 53.223s
7 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R 53.561s
8 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Fortec 52.415s (5 Place Grid Penalty)
9 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR 53.627s
10 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 56.638s etc.
Round 21 grid order (based on second-fastest times): Quinn – Caroline – Leeds – Goddard – Fielding – Monger – Florescu – Fewtrell – Martins – Pull etc.