A call to switch to wet tyres on the starting grid paid dividends for James Hedley as the Fortec Motorsport racer charged from tenth to victory in the second F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost race at Brands Hatch.
Spots of rain appeared around 20 minutes before the start of the race, prompting a flurry of action as the majority of the field – everyone bar front row starters Matthew Rees and McKenzy Cresswell, their team-mates Joseph Loake and Abbi Pulling, Carlin’s Roman Bilinski and Richardson’s Georgi Dimitrov – opted to switch their slicks out for wet compound tyres.
Initially, it looked to be the right call as Phinsys by Argenti’s Eduardo Coseteng made a strong start from fourth and swept around the outside of pole-sitter Rees at Paddock Hill Bend to take the lead, with Loake following him through into second spot.
An attempt by Loake to wrestle top spot away at Druids opened the door for Coseteng’s fast-starting team-mate Matias Zagazeta to pounce, the Peruvian sending a bold move around the outside of Graham Hill, before the lead changed hands between the sparring Argenti challengers at Druids on the next tour.
Behind, Hedley was on another charge, gaining four places in the opening lap scramble before gradually picking off the competition one-by-one to run second behind Zagazeta approaching half distance.
He then made a pass on the inside at Clearways on the brakes to annex the race lead, and from there set about making an escape as the slick-shod runners started to come back into the contest.
Led by Rees, that group gradually rose through the order, the Welsh racer reeling in Hedley before making a move on the grippier inside line at Paddock with six minutes left on the clock.
He looked to be on course for a third victory of the campaign, but the conditions worsened again mere moments later, giving Hedley a golden opportunity to strike back, one the BRDC Rising Star did not pass up, before building a 6.1-second lead in the closing stages to take the chequered flag and register his third triumph, boosting his lead over Rees in the standings back out to 22 points in the process.
Abbi Pulling put in arguably the drive of the race, rising through after dropping to the back in the opening laps to secure the final spot on the podium – a second in succession for the JHR Developments racer.
The 18-year-old sent the first indication the slicks were coming back ‘in’ with the then-fastest lap of the race on the fifth tour, before dispatching half the field in the space of five laps around the 1.2-mile Indy circuit to run inside the top ten.
From there, she shadowed her fellow slick runners as they made progress through the points-scorers, before passing Bilinski at Graham Hill and finally Cresswell at Clearways to annex third spot, despite a late recovery from Zagazeta.
The Peruvian was eventually fourth, with Bilinski a season-best fifth spot in the leading Carlin challenger. Cresswell was sixth, with a bonus point for setting the Motul Fastest Lap, and will start on pole position for the final race live on ITV3 at 13:50 today courtesy of second-best times from qualifying.
Bilinski’s team-mate Kai Askey was a solid seventh at the flag, with Joel Granfors maintaining his run of eighth-placed finishes this weekend behind. The final Fortec challenger of Oliver Gray was ninth, with Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak eventually rounding out the ten fastest runners.
Erstwhile race leader Coseteng eventually finished just outside the points in 11th, just four tenths clear of Carlin’s Dougie Bolger, the Japanese racer making steady progress through the midfield on wets.
Marcos Flack started 13th and kept that spot, beating Arden duo David Morales and Thomas Ikin behind. The final Red Arrow of Zak Taylor – yesterday’s race winner – was the final finisher in 17th behind Aiden Neate (Argenti), who spun at Graham Hill on the opening lap.
Loake and Dimitrov were both forced to pit with problems and did not finish the race.
Provisional Result – Round 8:
|1||James HEDLEY||Fortec Motorsport||23 laps|
|2||Matthew REES||JHR Developments||+6.140s|
|3||Abbi PULLING||JHR Developments||+7.360s|
|4||Matias ZAGAZETA||Phinsys by Argenti||+8.113s|
|6||McKenzy CRESSWELL||JHR Developments||+15.137s|
|8||Joel GRANFORS||Fortec Motorsport||+25.229s|
|9||Oliver GRAY||Fortec Motorsport||+25.560s|
|11||Eduardo COSETENG||Phinsys by Argenti||+39.092s|
|13||Marcos FLACK||Phinsys by Argenti||+42.607s|
|14||David MORALES||Arden Motorsport||+49.192s|
|15||Thomas IKIN||Arden Motorsport||+49.748s|
|16||Aiden NEATE||Phinsys by Argenti||+50.910s|
|17||Zak TAYLOR||Arden Motorsport||+53.446s|
|DNF||Joseph LOAKE||JHR Developments||+6 laps|
|DNF||Georgi DIMITROV||Richardson Racing||+10 laps|