- Carlin’s James Pull comes out on top in super close-qualifying with the top five drivers covered by less than a tenth.
- Billy Monger nets brilliant race three pole for JHR.
ROCKINGHAM 27 AUGUST, 2016 – Carlin’s James Pull kept his cool in changeable conditions at Rockingham Motor Speedway to land pole in a thrilling qualifying session for the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford.
Pull took full advantage of the best of the conditions putting in an inch perfect lap, remaining glued to the dry line to avoid a slippery surface offline which caught a number of drivers out as they circulated the 1.94-mile Northamptonshire circuit.
Pull timed his final flyer perfectly recording a 1m 19.339s lap just as the rain increased in intensity. It prevented anyone from going quicker in the dying minutes of the session. The rain proved to be Pull’s saving grace as an issue with the right rear suspension of his car forced him back to the pits immediately after recording his fastest lap.
Said Pull: “It was a hard session. We have had our fair share of dramatic qualifying sessions this season. I came in at the wrong time at the start when it initially rained wanting to put wets on, but it stopped raining and I went out again [on slicks].
“The conditions in that session are my favourite. It’s always so close and it’s been even closer this weekend, but it does make it special to come out on top with this pole. We’ve been working so hard for this for so long.”
It was extremely tight at the top though, with the top five drivers covered by less than a tenth of a second. Devlin DeFrancesco was just 0.046s away from his team-mate after another top quality qualifying performance from the Canadian. However, he will start from 12th on the grid for this afternoon’s race due to a 10 place grid penalty carried over from Knockhill.
Added DeFrancesco: “Overall it was a good qualifying with P2. The car was good and it was great to go fast enough for the front row. A great job from my teammate James too. He’s worked hard all year and deserves this pole. I’m really looking forward to the races.
“I was very comfortable in the damp conditions. We were really quick. Going flat out around the banking on a set of slicks in the wet may leave the race suit a little brown for a little while though.”
DeFrancesco’s penalty means that Alex Quinn moves to the front row for Round 22 of the F4 British Championship, having ended up third fastest in qualifying. It was another standout performance for the rookie racer, who bounced back with his Fortec team after a tough time in testing yesterday.
Commented Quinn: “After yesterday I wasn’t so positive, but I’m really happy with how that went. The car felt good when it started to dry. That really helped a lot and I think the fact that we stayed out for the entire session helped us to get the tyre temperature up. It’s a little bit cooler today so that might have helped us too. When it matters now we always seem to be right up there so hopefully we can continue this into the race.”
“I’ve always been good in these conditions when karting. I always remember one race in Kadets. It was in the British Open Kartmasters Championship and it started raining really heavily on the grid, but I was four or five seconds a lap quicker than anyone else, so conditions like we had today bring back positive memories.”
Rafael Martins had his best qualifying session of the year for TRS Arden, just 0.062s off of pole; with a second victory of the season in his sights. Team-mate Ayrton Simmons followed up a strong showing in testing by breaking into the top 10 just ahead of Fortec’s Nicolai Kjaergaard and Frank Bird; whilst title contender Luis Leeds was unfortunate to suffer a spin on his quickest lap leaving him 13th fastest ahead of compatriot Zane Goddard (Double R Racing).
Sennan Fielding was quickest of the JHR runners and he is sure to be a serious threat to Carlin at the front. The Chesterfield racer clearly very happy with the balance of his car around Rockingham Motor Speedway.
Explained Fielding: “It was tricky session. I unfortunately had traffic on my quickest laps, but it’s just one of those things. I know one clean lap could have got me pole and I know I can race from fourth. The team have done a brilliant job to get the car feeling absolutely unbelievable and I would like to say thanks to them for giving me such an excellent car.
Fielding’s team-mate Monger also excelled in the tricky conditions frequently featuring at the top of the times. Monger’s precision and raw speed shone through as the session progressed; earning him a brilliant and well deserved pole for tomorrow’s live-televised finale courtesy of his second fastest lap time.
Commented Monger: “It was a strange session. It was so up and down with conditions. Luckily we got two good laps in and pole for race three. We are going to go all out for it and try to get our first win. We got qualifying right today and hopefully we can carry this on. The team is doing really well. I couldn’t ask for a better car at the moment. It’s set up perfectly.”
Jack Butel was unlucky not to be able to showcase the same pace as his team-mates, but is hopeful of a strong result in the races: “I think we could have got more out of the car. We know we have good race pace, especially in the rain. When it starts raining you have to think completely different to how it is in the dry and you have to focus on trying to find where the grip is.”
Championship leader Max Fewtrell, will line up just ahead of Monger in race one and continues to be consistently quick out on track regardless of the conditions, which is likely to pay dividends in a weekend when the weather forecast is looking incredibly unpredictable.
Meanwhile Petru Florescu will be looking to use all his guile and experience to bring home a strong points haul in a bid to regain the championship lead after recording a time good enough for the front row in race three.
Said Florescu: “Qualifying went alright. With the conditions like they were I thought the rain would be for about five minutes and then it would be dry. We start second in the third race and I think we can do really well from there for the championship.”
The first F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford race of the Rockingham weekend follows at 1415.
F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford
Provisional qualifying times Rockingham 27 August 2016
Grid order for Round 22
1 James PULL / GBR / Carlin 1:19.399
2 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec 1:19.448
3 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden 1:19.461
4 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1:19.482
5 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin 1:19.595
6 Bill MONGER / GBR / JHR 1:19.651
7 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:19.657
8 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden 1:19.921
9 Nicolai KJAERGAARD / DEN / Fortec 1:20.146
10 Frank BIRD / GBR / Fortec 1:20.393 etc.
Round 24 grid order (based on second-fastest times) Monger – Florescu – Fewtrell – Quinn – Martins – Fielding – DeFrancesco – Kjaergaard – Pull – Simmons