James Hedley held off a late charge from Casper Stevenson to seal victory in a tense opening F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost race at Thruxton.
Local hero Hedley led from lights-to-flag after a solid start, but Argenti racer Stevenson came back at him in the closing laps, coming up just short after a thrilling run to the chequered flag, the gap just 0.193 seconds at the finish.
Hedley’s victory marks another strong result for JHR Developments at the high-speed 2.3-mile Hampshire circuit, and propels the BRDC Rising Star back into the battle for third in the overall standings.
The pair made a level start from the front row, with Hedley’s team-mate Abbi Pulling slotting into third ahead of Arden’s Alex Connor. Title rivals Zak O’Sullivan (Carlin) and Luke Browning (Fortec) went side-by-side on the run through Allard for fifth, the latter coming out on top in the early skirmish.
Connor’s fourth place was next, Browning getting a better exit from Club chicane on the following tour and passing his fellow sophomore driver into Allard.
An early safety car intervention for retiree Matias Zagazeta (Carlin) kept the pack close together, and after Hedley’s textbook restart, Browning set about resuming his charge up the order.
Less than a lap after the restart, Browning relieved Pulling of the final podium spot, but couldn’t do anything about Hedley or Stevenson, the pair having disappeared up the road together.
Browning was therefore forced on the defensive for the rest of the contest, fending off Pulling, then Connor over a series of laps on the run up Woodham Hill and into the chicane.
Connor oh-so-nearly got the better of the current championship leader, but was denied in similar fashion to Stevenson, the gap on the line just 0.130 seconds. That result moves Browning 43 points clear of O’Sullivan at the championship summit.
A broken front wing for Pulling dropped her back to sixth behind O’Sullivan in the closing stages, the latter recovering back through the pack after an off across the kerbs at Club after the restart lost him ground on the battle at the front.
Crucially for O’Sullivan, he will now start the partially-reversed second race at 17:10 this afternoon from pole position, with the top five positions switched around, giving him a golden opportunity to close in on Browning.
Frederick Lubin (Arden) continued to close on Christian Mansell (Carlin) in the Rookie Cup stakes, the Arden Motorsport racer leading home team mate Roman Bilinski by 0.3 seconds in seventh and eighth respectively.
Mansell was classified tenth in the final points-paying position, losing out to Argenti’s Reema Juffali after a thrilling duel between the pair.
They made it a hat-trick of nail-biting finishes, crossing the line virtually together, just a tenth of a second separating them.
Rafael Villagomez rounded out the Rookie podium in eleventh outright, with Zagazeta the only non-finisher from the opening race of three.
Provisional Result – Round 13
|1||James HEDLEY||JHR Developments||14 laps|
|2||Casper STEVENSON||Argenti Motorsport||+0.193s|
|3||Luke BROWNING||Fortec Motorsport||+5.850s|
|4||Alex CONNOR||Arden Motorsport||+5.980s|
|6||Abbi PULLING||JHR Developments||+7.391s|
|7||Frederick LUBIN||Arden Motorsport||+7.665s|
|8||Roman BILINSKI||Arden Motorsport||+7.995s|
|9||Reema JUFFALI||Argenti Motorsport||+8.659s|
|11||Rafael VILLAGOMEZ||Fortec Motorsport||+16.030s|