Zane Maloney wins Knockhill opener to boost title aspirations

  • Carlin ace extends championship lead with victory from pole in Knockhill opener.
  • Skelton continues silverware-laden run, Alvarez limits damage to title hopes in third.
  • Carter Williams on reverse-grid pole with Horsten set to carry over 5-place grid penalty.

Zane Maloney put in a composed drive to convert pole position to victory in the opening F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost race of the weekend at Knockhill.

The win – which came despite two safety car restarts and consistent pressure behind – extends the Carlin racer’s advantage in the standings to 47 points over Sebastian Alvarez and puts Maloney within touching distance of the Rookie Cup crown.

Maloney and fellow BRDC Rising Star Louis Foster (Double R Racing) made a level start from the front row and ran nose-to-tail in the opening exchanges, before an uncharacteristic mistake from the latter at Arnold Clark Chicane demoted him to fourth and released JHR’s Josh Skelton and Foster’s team-mate Alvarez to give chase.

A second mistake from Foster at the same corner two tours of the 1.26-mile Fife circuit later brought out the safety car and gave the chasing pack the perfect opportunity to capitalise, but Maloney was unmoved and a textbook restart re-instated his advantage.

Thus the status quo remained until the safety car was forced out once more with six minutes on the clock, this time for Reema Juffali and Mariano Martinez’s stranded cars at the Arnold Clark Chicane and Taylor’s Hairpin respectively.

That set up a one-lap shootout at the front between Maloney, Skelton and Alvarez, the Bajan ace defending well and taking the chequered flag 0.6 seconds clear to score his first win since Oulton Park, and first podium in five races.

“Eighth win of the year, I can’t believe it,” said Maloney.

“It was a bit of a crazy race, which Knockhill always throws up. There was not much rhythm due to the safety cars, but we’ll see in the next race, hopefully there won’t be as many.

“I got two really, really good restarts. I was thinking about when I was going to go, and how am I going to trick them. But we got it done so it’s good.

“I think Louis just made a mistake behind me at the Chicane. It’s a really tricky corner so he went off there. I got a better start than him and maybe slowed down a bit too much at the second corner, which comes down to¬† experience I guess. I was a bit cautious, whereas in the next race I won’t be.

“I’m not focusing on the championship just yet, I just want to get another two wins this weekend.”

The runner-up spot marks a sixth podium on the bounce for Skelton, who leapfrogs the unfortunate Foster in third overall, with Alvarez limiting the damage to his title hopes in third.

Skelton’s team mate Carter Williams (JHR) ended a mixed day in a commendable fourth, with Fortec Motorsport’s Roberto Faria a season-best fifth after a superb drive.

Arden Motorsport’s Bart Horsten fought through the field well to claim sixth, which would have put him on reverse-grid pole position for the middle race tomorrow morning, but for his 5-place grid penalty set to be carried over as per the regulations.

That honour therefore goes to Carter Williams with the top five reversed from nine finishers.

The Australian’s initial attempt at passing Richardson Racing’s Luke Browning didn’t quite go to plan with a small trip through the gravel on the exit of Taylor’s, but he put a sublime move on the outside of Duffus Dip on the final lap to finally make the position his.

Browning therefore took seventh despite a slow puncture, with Tommy Foster and series newcomer Abbie Munro eighth and ninth as the only other classified finishers, handing the latter points on her championship debut.

Juffali, Martinez, Alex Connor (Arden) and Foster were the unfortunate retirees, but will no doubt look to strike back at 10:15 BST tomorrow.

Provisional Result – Race 1

Pos. Driver Team Time
1 Zane MALONEY (R) Carlin 19 laps
2 Josh SKELTON JHR Developments +0.678s
3 Sebastian ALVAREZ Double R Racing +1.176s
4 Carter WILLIAMS JHR Developments +2.110s
5 Roberto FARIA (R) Fortec Motorsport +2.682s
6 Bart HORSTEN Arden Motorsport +3.110s
7 Luke BROWNING Richardson Racing +4.700s
8 Tommy FOSTER Arden Motorsport +5.326s
9 Abbie MUNRO Arden Motorsport +6.185s
DNF Reema JUFFALI Double R Racing
DNF Mariano MARTINEZ Fortec Motorsport
DNF Alex CONNOR (R) Arden Motorsport
DNF Louis FOSTER Double R Racing