Florescu strikes back at Thruxton with Ford EcoBoost-powered British F4 win

  • Lights to flag victory for Carlin’s Petru Florescu.
  • DeFrancesco finishes second after race-long battle with Fielding.
  • Max Fewtrell relinquishes lead in the championship following spectacular crash.

THRUXTON 7 MAY, 2016 – Petru Florescu got off to a flyer this weekend at Thruxton with a dominant lights to flag victory on the back of an emphatic pole in qualifying. The win sees him reclaim the lead in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford standings. Meanwhile Carlin team-mate Devlin DeFrancesco came out on top after a thrilling tussle with JHR’s Sennan Fielding and Alex Quinn took yet another Rookie class win.

Florescu made a textbook getaway from pole and never looked back, pulling away from the field with ease and setting fastest lap in the process. It was an assured performance from the 17-year-old who came into the weekend with two Ford EcoBoost-powered wins already to his name.

Said the winner: “I pushed to pull away from the field as everyone was fighting for position behind me. The car is really quick and although I didn’t test here last month, I did some work in the simulator and was able to be on the pace from the start. Donington was a difficult weekend where we did the best we could, but to be back at the front here is great. I’m so happy we’re back!”

Although it was plain sailing out front for Florescu, it was anything but behind, with the race becoming something of a war of attrition at times.

Eyes were on DeFrancesco and Sennan Fielding throughout as they diced it out lap after lap. It was Fielding who managed to slip past DeFrancesco on the opening lap, but he could not escape the Canadian’s clutches; forcing to the JHR Developments driver to resort to some resolute defensive driving. DeFrancesco finally broke through on lap 12 with a perfectly judged move into Club.

Fielding was unrelenting and attempted to return the favour on the last lap, but was thwarted by DeFrancesco’s robust defence, triggering Fielding to clatter his way over the kerbs at the final chicane and forcing him into a drag race for the line with Alex Quinn.

A thrilled DeFrancesco explained: “It was a really good fight with Sennan. It was so exciting with lots of overtakes. I finally managed to make a move stick and it was nice to finish second. The last lap was nerve racking, especially at the last chicane. I think both of us demonstrated just how good the level of race craft is in the British F4 Championship.”

Added Fielding: “It was a hectic race. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on at some points. I would have like to have been two steps higher, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I think we’ve got a little bit of work to do with the car to really take on Carlin. It was a great race though. This is one of the hardest circuits to defend at in the world so I’m proud I was able to hold Devlin back for so long.”

Customary fast starter Jamie Caroline made up several places on the opening lap, only to make a mistake a lap later undoing much of his hard work. He would have to settle for tenth with Patrik Matthiesen putting in his best display of the year in eighth ahead of Ross Martin.

The Club chicane claimed many victims, proving to be the location for much of the race’s drama. TRS Arden’s Rafael Martins and Zane Goddard were the first to succumb, with the former running into the back of the Double R Racer under braking on lap two.

On lap eight Nicolai Kjaergaard carried too much speed into the chicane trying to pass Matthiesen and as he re-joined the track he clipped the left rear of Jack Martin ending both of their races.

However, Club’s most high profile victim was that of Max Fewtrell who had gone into the race as the championship leader. Having lost out to Fielding on the opening lap, Fewtrell had to contend with team-mate Pull all over his gearbox, the latter pulling off a move on lap seven.

Fewtrell was not prepared to let Pull out of his sight, but on lap nine the battle ended in tears as they collided at the chicane, sending Fewtrell airborne with his Carlin prepared racer ultimately ending up perched on top of the tyre barrier. Fewtrell walked away unscathed testament to the safety of his Ford EcoBoost-powered racer and its Mygale chassis.

Remarkably Pull incurred minimal damage and was able to salvage sixth place, whilst Jack Butel crossed the line seventh to claim his best result of the year and with it the reverse grid pole for race two.

Billy Monger’s race was thwarted by debris on lap five, which brought a premature end to his battle with Alex Quinn. The latter kept his cool despite all the drama to bring home his fifth Rookie class win of the year with TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds recovering well from a difficult qualifying to make up five places.

Said Monger: “I hit some debris going through the first chicane which cut through the brake lines and meant I couldn’t stop the car properly. At 120 miles per hour it was pretty lively to say the least. We definitely had the pace to progress up the order and finish fourth so it’s a shame, but we’ll try and get some points on the board in race two this weekend and then the win is the target from fifth on the grid in race three.”

Added Quinn: “We had really good pace and if the race was a little bit longer we could have had third or second. It confirms the pace that we had in qualifying and I got a great start too. I need to thank the team because the car has been brilliant.”

Another rookie who caught the eye was Ayrton Simmons, the youngest driver on the grid, who claimed a maiden Rookie class podium on his British F4 debut: “It was so intense out there. My main goal was to stay out of trouble and bring the car home. To come away with my first Rookie podium is great and I thought my race craft was very good. We’ll learn from today and come back stronger tomorrow.”

Lights go out for round eight of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford at 1255 when Jack Butel and James Pull will both be vying for their first wins of the season from the front row. At 1630 round nine gets underway live on ITV4, with Florescu looking to add yet another win to his victory tally and extend his championship lead.

Provisional results Round 7, Thruxton 7 May, 2016
16 laps / 37.69 miles
1 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 20m 09.010s / 112.24mph
2 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin +8.804s
3 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +10.316s
4 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec +10.442s
5 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden +11.828s
6 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +13.203s
7 Jack BUTEL / GBR / JHR +17.599s
8 Patrik MATTHIESEN / DEN / JTR +27.993s
9 Ross MARTIN / GBR / Fortec +28.381s
10 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun +30.634s etc

Fastest lap Florescu 1m 14.878s / 113.27mph

Rookie class 1 Quinn; 2 R Martin; 3 Simmons

Full results

Provisional championship standings
1 Florescu 101 points; 2 Fielding 91; 3 Fewtrell 89; 4 Leeds 78; 5 Pull 77; 6 Quinn 67; 7 Caroline 47; 8 Martins 45; 9 DeFrancesco 35; 10 R Martin 19 etc

Rookie Class 1 Quinn 161; 2 J Martin 97; 3 R Martin 94; 4 Kjaergaard 72; 5 Simmons 15