JHR Developments are looking ahead with optimism after promising pace in last weekends F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost triple-header at Donington Park.
The headline for the Derbyshire-based outfit at the 1.8-mile Leicestershire circuit was a maiden podium in the Ford EcoBoost-powered category for Josh Skelton, who bounced back in style from a frustrating season-opener with three solid finishes.
Things were slightly more mixed on Carter Williams’ side of the awning, the American unfortunately retiring amidst a three-way fight for the lead in the middle race, but regardless salvaged two solid seventh-place finishes as the pair sit seventh and eighth overall in the standings.
“We had a good dry set up all weekend. On Saturday we were quick, but we didn’t expect the track to dry as quickly as it did so towards the end Louis got past, but we had a podium,” explained Skelton.
“I made a mistake in race two and jumped the start but managed to get back to the pack and through to seventh, showing good pace again. I made up two places on the first lap in race three and after the Safety Car restart, I managed to catch the leaders and was battling for the lead into the last corner, but it didn’t quite pay off and I dropped back. The pack is really close and if something doesn’t pay off two or three cars come back past in one straight.”
Skelton also admitted returning for a second season in Ford’s winning formula has put him in better shape to fight for the title, with the 18-year old mindful of how long there is left to run in the season.
“I feel more at home now. I struggled a bit last year as it was a tough grid and I hadn’t done much testing, so it was straight in at the deep end. Now we’re back for a second year we’re looking strong. Obviously, we had a bad round at Brands but it’s good to get some points on the board – it’s a long season.”
For Williams, the overriding emotion was understandably frustration, but the Californian is taking some solace from their pace versus the competition and believes a title assault is still on the cards if they continue in this fashion.
“It was more disappointing than anything,” admitted Williams.
“We had some pace but struggled in the wet. I made a really bad mistake in race two and in race one so I apologised to the team as we could have had at least a podium if not even a win. Race three was good until the restart and we just seemed to have no straight-line speed – it felt like the brake was dragging.
“We know we can get the job done. I think if we could have taken all the advantages this weekend, we’d have had some decent points, but it is a long championship and if we keep showing the pace we have we’ll still have a good shot at the title. I feel comfortable in the car, in the dry it is phenomenal and in the wet it is just something little that we’re missing.”
For Team Principal Steven Hunter, the equation was simple: plenty of pace, but not quite the luck to match. He remains upbeat, however, believing experience as the season progresses will pay dividends for the team.
“Quite clearly we’ve had the pace in the dry but not the luck. You could see Josh coming through potentially into a lead position in race three and he’s already had a second place finish this weekend,” said Hunter.
“Unfortunately, we qualified in the wet and we didn’t have a good session with either car, so we’ve done a good job to get some points out of it. We’d have liked to have had a bit more, you can see both drivers are quick, they just need a bit of lick on their side.
“Carter at the moment is improving all the time. The error where he went off from third place was after going purple in three straight sectors so maybe he was pushing a bit too hard to get the win. The more experience both guys can get under their belts the quicker they will get, and the results will show that. On raw pace, lap for lap, they’re two of the quickest guys out there, they just need the rub of the green.”
The championship returns to action at Thruxton – the fastest circuit in the UK – over the weekend of 18th-19th May.