JHR Developments’ Joseph Loake claimed a maiden victory in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost after soaking up race-long pressure from team-mate McKenzy Cresswell in a wet-weather thriller at Thruxton.
A strong start allowed Loake to sweep around the outside of pole-sitter Matthew Rees (JHR) at Allard to assume the race lead, with Cresswell following through into second spot at the Complex on the opening lap.
Although Rees initially stayed with the pair, they broke clear as the race went on. Although Cresswell kept Loake honest in the tricky conditions, an opportunity to pass never came and Loake duly took the chequered flag 0.9 seconds clear to register his first win in single seaters, with Cresswell the victor in the Rookie stakes.
That followed a one-hour stoppage after a four car pile-up at Club chicane on the first attempt to start the race – in dry conditions – necessitated a red flag and a delay to the action, during which time the heavens opened.
The incident, triggered by a moment for double race-winner James Hedley (Fortec) over the kerbs resulted in contact with Kai Askey (Carlin), and both Matias Zagazeta (Argenti) and Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak (Carlin) found themselves with nowhere to go as the four hit the barriers.
Remarkably, they all made it out for the restarted race just an hour later, in a true testament to the skill and level of professionalism amongst their respective teams.
Hedley made forward progress for the third race in succession, steadily climbing through the field and eventually besting Rees for the final spot on the podium on the outside at Campbell on the final lap.
Team-mate Oliver Gray, who had earlier kept Hedley behind, then followed him through to assume fourth, with Rees rounding out the top five.
Carlin’s Dougie Bolger had put up a valiant defence earlier in the contest and kept Gray and Hedley behind until later in the race, but a move to the outside at Campbell for Hedley and a switchback on the exit of Seagrave for Gray allowed both past.
Bolger, however, banks a weekend-best sixth spot on a solid first weekend in the category.
Roman Bilinski cut his way through from the back row of the grid to finish seventh on the road and was able to continue despite first-lap contact with Joel Granfors (Fortec) at the chicane; both survived, with Granfors eventually eighth.
Kai Askey took ninth in his repaired challenger, just ahead of Inthraphuvasak, who rounds out the points finishers.
Marcos Flack led home Phinsys by Argenti team-mate Eduardo Coseteng for 11th and 12th respectively. Abbi Pulling ran up at the front in the opening laps in the final JHR car, but eventually finished 13th.
Thomas Ikin was next, with Arden team-mate Zak Taylor rounding out the 15 finishers after picking up a knock in that early incident at Club. Matias Zagazeta’s repaired car took the second start, but was forced to retire.
The next stop on the 2021 calendar is Snetterton’s 300 circuit in Norfolk on 12-13 June.
Click here for the full race result.