Fortec Motorsport’s Oliver Gray soaked up race-long pressure at the front to win the final F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost race of the weekend at Thruxton.
The victory, his second in successive days, came after expertly managing the race start from pole position, and thereafter he fended off the best attempts of Matias Zagazeta (Phinsys by Argenti), Abbi Pulling (JHR Developments) and then finally team-mate Joel Granfors in turn to take his first victory ‘on the road’ by 0.962 seconds.
The result, which propels the world karting champion back into the thick of the title fight and cements Fortec’s position atop the Teams Cup standings, marks a hat-trick for the Daventry-based team around the high-speed, 2.35-mile Hampshire venue this weekend.
Granfors made a last-corner attempt at Club chicane to wrest the lead away, but the Swede clattered across the kerbs and skated over the grass on the inside, handing Zagazeta with a golden opportunity to pass for the runner-up spot in sight of the flag, which the Peruvian duly seized.
Zagazeta now sits just four markers shy of Matthew Rees (JHR) at the championship summit after another strong weekend, leapfrogging Carlin’s James Hedley, who rose from 11th on the grid to finish eighth.
Rees briefly joined the lead battle during the opening exchanges, but slipped back as the contest wore on and eventually finished fifth behind Phinsys by Argenti’s Aiden Neate, who scored a career-best fourth from ninth on the grid after a strong rise through the order.
That result also netted him the honours in the Rookie Cup stakes, the 15-year-old just 0.2 seconds shy of a maiden outright podium at the finish.
Behind Rees in sixth was Joseph Loake, who emerged unscathed from a heart-stopping moment at the Complex; battling side-by-side with JHR team-mate Pulling, the latter tagged the rear-right of Arden Motorsport’s Zak Taylor, who rolled over before coming to rest the right way up.
Taylor was unharmed, but with his car too badly damaged to continue under its own steam, the Ford Fiesta safety car was called for, bunching the pack up.
As Gray saw off a succession of challengers up front, that interruption also helped cultivate a thrilling battle for the final points-paying positions, eventually led home by Carlin trio Dougie Bolger, Hedley and Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak, the top ten completed by a recovering Pulling with damage to the front wing.
Marcos Flack (Argenti), Kai Askey (Carlin) and David Morales (Arden) all narrowly missed out on points and crossed the line blanketed by under two seconds, with Eduardo Coseteng (Argenti) and Taylor the retirees.
McKenzy Cresswell (JHR) withdrew from the race earlier in the day after damage sustained to the rear of his car during Round 17.
The F4 British Championship heads next to Croft, Yorkshire over the weekend of 18-19 September.