Matias Zagazeta took a provisional fourth win of the campaign after emerging on top of a thrilling battle up front with Oliver Gray in the opening F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost race at Thruxton.
However, his victory remains under review by officials after two separate incidents between the pair at the Club chicane.
The Phinsys by Argenti racer made a level start with Fortec Motorsport racer Gray on the front row, and managed to use a run through Allard to tee up a move through the Campbell-Cobb-Seagrave complex to wrest the lead away on the opening lap.
From there, Zagazeta might have made his escape, but an incident further down the pack at the end of the first tour between JHR Developments’ Joseph Loake and Carlin racer James Hedley left the pair in the barriers at the Club chicane, and necessitated a safety car intervention.
The chain reaction was started by contact between Loake and Dougie Bolger at the second apex, pitching the #84 into a 180-degree spin. Hedley, stuck on the left-hand side between car and barrier, was almost able to squeeze through unscathed, but was tagged in turn by the rear of Loake’s car and damaged his front-left suspension against the tyre wall.
When the race resumed, Zagazeta was able to initially gap Gray but the latter soon set about attempting to re-claim his lead, culminating in the pair running side-by-side into Club on lap ten.
With Gray on the inside, the two nearly made contact at the second apex, causing Zagazeta to skirt over the kerbs and remain out front, albeit temporarily. Gray got a better exit from the same chicane a few laps later and out-dragged the Peruvian to Allard, sending a move to the inside to resume top spot.
Their battle ebbed and flowed over the final two laps of the race, with Zagazeta attempting a last-corner move around the outside of Club. Again, the went off line to avoid one another, with Zagazeta emerging in front to take the chequered flag 0.5 seconds clear.
His victory, however, remains under review pending an investigation post-race by the Clerk of the Course. If it stands, Zagazeta will move into the championship lead over Matthew Rees (JHR), who scored a solitary point and the non-scoring Hedley.
Abbi Pulling rose through from the third row to complete the podium, but also remains under post-race investigation for an incident at Club. After an attempted pass on the outside of JHR team-mate McKenzy Cresswell the lap prior, Pulling was eventually able to annex the position on the inside on lap eight.
From there, her pace was quicker than race leaders Zagazeta and Gray, but the 18-year-old ultimately ran out of time to close the gap and attempt a pass. It marks her third trip to the podium this season, with Cresswell a steady fourth.
Aiden Neate (Argenti) and Dougie Bolger (Carlin) kept their cool amongst a chaotic scrap for the points-paying positions to move through from the lower reaches of the top ten to assume fifth and sixth respectively.
They were helped by two incidents for Eduardo Coseteng (Argenti), who had to pit to have grass removed from his machine at risk of overheating, and Rees who fell back to seventh on the opening lap and then became entangled with Joel Granfors’ Fortec challenger at Club.
The latter did exceptionally well across the grass to prevent contact with the barrier after a controlled slide, and duly recovered to finish eighth on the road behind an impressive drive from Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak (Carlin).
Rees dropped back to last at one stage following the incident, but put in a series of moves as the contest wore on to claim the final point in tenth behind Carlin’s Kai Askey, another mover from further back in the order.
David Morales was just shy of adding to his points total in 11th as the leading Arden Motorsport challenger, with team-mate Zak Taylor and Marcos Flack (Argenti) completing the finishers.
This article is a developing story and will be updated periodically as/when more information is available.
UPDATE – Dougie Bolger (#25) received a 5.0 second time penalty for causing a collision with #84 (Loake), who then in turn made contact with #67 (Hedley). Matias Zagazeta has also been awarded a 1.0 second time penalty for gaining an unfair advantage when attempting to pass Oliver Gray for the race lead, reversing the positions.